The series that refuses to die…
The H-Bomb:Â Bruce Willis makes a shockingly un-triumphant return as John McClane, the hero cop who always seems to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.Â This time, that place is Russia, where his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), has been arrested for murder.Â Mere moments after McClane arrives at the courthouse where his son is scheduled to appear, the place is rocked by a giant explosion, as some heavily armed goons swarm in looking to take out Jack as well as Komarov (Sebastian Koch), an ex-billionaire who apparently has some damning file on a Russian bigwig hidden away somewhere. [H-Man Note: This movie's plot somehow manages to be both paper thin and ridiculously convoluted at the same time.Â I shall do my best]
After the explosion, Jack grabs Komarov, jumps into a van, and hightails it out of there, with the bad guys in hot pursuit, and a confused as fuck McClane following behind all of them.Â This leads to an outrageously over-the-top, yet curiously dull, chase that practically destroys half of Moscow.Â Once they leave the bad guy’s in the dust, McClane learns his son’s secret . . . that he’s a deep cover CIA operative . . . yeah . . . how’s that for a contrivance?
Jack is trying to get Komarov out of the country in exchange for whatever this file is, and he doesn’t appreciate his cowboy father showing up and nearly blowing the whole operation.Â But, as Jack will soon find out, his dad is about to come in handy, as the bad guys will soon be back, in force, to get this Komarov fellow, one way, or another.Â From there, we get a stream of double crosses, triple crosses, gun battles, an insanely ridiculous amount of explosions, and some father/son bonding as the McClanes dodge bullets all the way from Moscow to Chernobyl.Â As all this is happening, the senior McClane is left wondering, “Why does this shit always happen when I go on vacation?”
Yippie Ki Yay, Mother Russia . . . or not.
The original Die Hard, released in 1988, is undeniably an action movie classic.Â It was exciting, suspenseful, had a fantastic villain, and its lead character, John McClane, was a hero who was as human and vulnerable as he was bad ass, which made him far more relate-able than most other action stars of the era.Â Die Hard 2 was a decent sequel, if perhaps a bit too close to the original in its story and structure.Â Die Hard with a Vengeance I fucking love.Â It was the one I watched over and over again as a kid, and having just recently re-screened it for the first time in years, I can say it’s easily the best of the Die Hard sequels.
Then, after a twelve year hiatus, we got Live Free or Die Hard, and this is where the series started its downward spiral.Â Directed by Len Wiseman, who recently graced us with his oh-so-necessary Total Recall redud, this one wasn’t terrible, but the action was cartoonish, CGI-saturated, sanitized, and worst of all, neutered for the PG-13 masses.Â It just didn’t look or feel like a Die Hard movie, and the title was fucking lame, to boot.
Now, as much shit as I might give Len Wiseman, he is fucking Christopher Nolan compared to John Moore, the uber-fucking-hack who helmed the shit-tastic Max Payne, and who is now spraying his fail all over the Die Hard series with A Good Day to Die Hard.Â A movie as Goddamn dreary as its Russian setting, this is proof positive that, unlike the Bond films, the Die Hard series is not meant to go on forever.Â The action scenes are nothing more than an endless, senseless series of bangs and booms, the editing and camera work are appallingly shoddy, and the pacing is just terrible (for an action flick running only 90 minutes, I was a hell of a lot more bored than I should have been).Â Worst of all is the ass wipe screenplay by Skip Woods, which is astoundingly inept, with a confusing as fuck story, no memorable dialogue, and characters made of cardboard.
And on the subject of characters, this is a series that once gave us such deliciously evil villains played by the likes of Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, and William Sadler.Â This time, the identity of the villain changes so many times that when the true head baddie is finally revealed, you’ll have long stopped caring.Â It doesn’t help that they’re all just a bunch of clichĂ©d, interchangeable euro-trash thugs who are not even remotely menacing or distinct.
Then there’s Jack, who, as played by the spectacularly bland Courtney, is just a belligerent little butt-face who I kept hoping John would just sock in the mouth.Â See, in this movie’s limp dick attempt at character development, McClane Jr. and Sr. are not on speaking terms at the film’s start, but, predictably, will come together through the carnage and reconcile by the film’s end.Â It could’ve worked, if Jack didn’t come off as such a whiny little bitch boy with daddy issues.Â Through the whole movie, he moans about how John was “never there for him,” and calls him by his first name, instead of dad.Â This is supposed to pay off in the end, when he finally does call him dad.Â It would’ve been a big moment, if only I gave the slightest shit about this snot-nosed douche rag .
And finally, I must touch on McClane himself, who was once a relate-able, everyman hero who displayed such human qualities as fear, anger, and pain.Â Remember that great scene in the original, where he had to pick all that broken glass out of his feet, and then could barely walk after that?Â That flesh and blood McClane no longer exists.Â This new McClane is a laid back superman who takes everything in stride and reacts to life threatening situations with an attitude so blasĂ© it’s almost Zen-like.Â Maybe McClane actually became a Zen Buddhist at some point, that would explain the bald head, but I digress.Â This super-McClane can fall down several stories of scaffolding, and then simply stand up, dust himself off, and walk away, which I must admit, is pretty impressive for a guy pushing 60!Â And I won’t even get into his wandering around Chernobyl without a radiation suit.
The only way in which this John McClane even remotely resembles the one from 25 years ago, is his penchant for cracking wise.Â That’s pretty much it.Â The reason for this, of course, is Bruce Willis himself.Â He brings to A Good Day to Die Hard the same attitude he brought to Cop Out, the “I don’t give a flying fart, I’m just in this for the money” attitude.Â He sleepwalks through this mess from beginning to end, and to see him, with this truly half-assed performance, show such callous disregard for the series that made him a movie star is simply a depressing sight to behold.
In fact, all of A Good Day to Die Hard was a depressing sight to behold, to see a once great series reduced to such a sloppy and downright joyless product.Â Yes, this is a product, not a movie.Â It’s most definitely not a Die Hard movie, just a generic action junker that just happens to star Bruce Willis playing a generic, underwritten character who just happens to be named John McClane.Â If I were to hope for another entry in this series, it would only be so it wouldn’t have to end on such a shitty note, otherwise, I say it’s time for this franchise to just fuck off and die . . . hard.