Question: Who doesn’t love a good action movie? Better question: Who doesn’t love taking their girlfriend to a good action movie? Even better question: Who doesn’t love taking their girlfriend to a good action movie on Valentine’s Day?
It’s probably safe to say the good people at 20th Century Fox asked themselves these very same things when they set a February 14th release date for “A Good Day to Die Hard”, the latest installment of Bruce Willis’ 25 year-old shoot ‘em up franchise. After all, what better way to remember you have a heart than to see one shot out of somebody’s chest on the big screen?
I had high hopes for this one seeing as this is probably John McClane’s final hurrah. It started out good enough with McClane receiving news that sends him on a flight to Moscow which in turn leads to the best car chase through a Russian city since Pierce Brosnan commandeered a tank for a leisurely drive through St. Petersburg in “Goldeneye”. He is reunited with his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who’s in the country for reasons revealed to us later. The McClanes then do what McClanes do best and that’s give insurance companies a headache. They proceed to wreck shop across the city and to another famous, or infamous if you prefer, part of the country all the while being pursued.
Unfortunately for me, it kinda went downhill after that initial car chase. The stunts were neat and fun but got pretty outrageous. Kind of along the lines of the 18-wheeler vs. F35 in “Live Free or Die Hard”. It always seems like any new director feels he has to outdo the previous films with action and explosions and instead makes the story suffer which is what made “Die Hard” and “Die Hard with a Vengeance” good. Also you’re kept in the dark for most of the movie as to why the villain is doing what their doing which can be a good thing (such as in “The Usual Suspects” or the first “Die Hard”) but here it’s just mostly confusing and then when it’s revealed, I kinda thought, “That’s it?”. There is however a neat final showdown in a really cool location between the McClane’s and their nemesis.
Willis and Courtney play off each other fairly well but there was just something missing in their chemistry that I couldn’t put my finger on. Courtney sure seems like he could be Willis’ kid in looks though. I like Bruce but his McClane quips weren’t up to the standards of the earlier films and started to get stale and repetitive about halfway through. They both pull off the action scenes well, even Willis at 57 years old. (How John McClane keeps getting health insurance is beyond me, and I’m sure his life insurance rates are through the roof.) Just like in “The Expendables 2″ Willis shows that no matter how old you get, you never forget how to to take out the bad guy using whatever weapon you have available.
As with any good action movie you need a memorable villain and unfortunately AGDTDH doesn’t have one. Maybe I just always remember Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) because he was the first “Die Hard” villain or maybe it’s his lines like, “Talk to me, where are my detonators? Where are they, or shall I shoot another one? Sooner or later, I might get to someone you *do* care about!” that make him a ruthless, calculating villain. Rickman (Hans) and Jeremy Irons (Simon Gruber) from “Die Hard With a Vengeance” are my two favorite villains from the series because of their cool, calculating demeanors. I just saw AGDTDH last night and I can’t remember the villain’s name. That’s not good.
All in all I’d have to rank the Die Hard’s in this order: 1, 3, 4&5, 2. AGDTDH is worth seeing in the theater. It’s always fun to watch Bruce with his wry sense of humor and he’s great at eliciting a chuckle from the audience with just an expression. The move has lots of action and explosions (Duh, it’s a Die Hard movie) but they could of done better in my opinion with the story. This movie would of been better suited coming out to kick off the Summer movie season rather than being released around Valentine’s Day. I give it 2 Yippee-Ki-Yays out of 4.