A Good Day to Die Hard

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Moscow, Russia, Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov), a high-ranking but corrupt Russian official, plans on incriminating political prisoner, former billionaire and government whistleblower Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) without a fair trial when Komarov refuses to hand over a secret file believed to have convicting evidence against Chagarin. In a separate incident, Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) is arrested as a result of an assassination but agrees to testify against Komarov for a shorter sentence.

John McClane (Bruce Willis), who has not been in touch with his son for years, learns of Jack’s situation and travels to Russia to help. When McClane arrives and approaches the courthouse that holds Jack and Komarov on trial, an explosion orchestrated by Chagarin and his henchmen occurs in the courthouse, and Jack breaks free with Komarov. Seeing his son, McClane confronts him, but their dispute is cut short when the henchmen, led by Alik (Radivoje Bukvić), chase them on the streets of Moscow. McClane, Jack, and Komarov escape.

Hiding in a safe house, McClane finds out that Jack has been a CIA officer in an undercover operation for the past three years. Collins (Cole Hauser), Jack’s partner, demands the file’s location from Komarov so that the CIA can bring Chagarin down, but Collins is soon shot by Chagarin’s men and dies, as McClane, Jack, and Komarov survive subsequent heavy gunfire and escape again. The trio then make their way to a hotel in the city to find the key to a vault containing the file. There, they meet Komarov’s daughter, Irina (Yuliya Snigir), whom they earlier planned on joining with, but McClane grows suspicious of her, which is proven correct when Alik and his men crash in and tie McClane and Jack up, while Komarov is taken as a hostage, and Irina confesses to snitching on them for the “millions of dollars” to be gained. Jack breaks free of his ties and kills the nearest guards using a Russian gun-knife allowing the two to kill most of the men. Alik and the rest of the henchmen come back on a Mil Mi-24 and try to kill them, but the two manage to escape.

That night, the two steal a car full of firearms and drive to Chernobyl, Ukraine, the location of the vault that houses the file. When they arrive, they find that Komarov, Irina, and Alik have already arrived, but what they don’t know is that on their way there, it was revealed that there was never a file in existence, and that the drawer with the file inside was actually the secret passage to a vault containing a large amount of weapons-grade uranium. Komarov kills Alik and calls Chagarin to tell him that he and Irina had manipulated the entire sequence of events since the beginning in an attempt to obtain the uranium and get revenge on Chagarin. Chagarin is then killed by a subordinate of Komarov.

At this point, McClane and Jack enter the vault, discover Komarov’s true plot, and capture him. Irina, with another henchman, comes to her father’s aid, but before they can escape, Jack goes after Komarov, while McClane goes after Irina, who is escaping on a Mil Mi-26 helicopter. Irina tries to protect her father by firing the helicopter’s cannons at Jack, but McClane is able to bring the helicopter out of balance by driving a truck in the hangar section, still shackled by a chain, out of the open rear ramp of the helicopter. Komarov remarks that Jack will get to watch his father die, which enrages Jack to hurl him off the rooftop into the path of the spinning helicopter’s rotors, killing him. McClane is thrown off the helicopter and reunites with Jack on the building. Wanting to avenge her father, Irina rams the helicopter into the building in a suicide attack, but both father and son survive by leaping off the building and into a large pool of water as the helicopter crashes and explodes, killing Irina.

Having mended their relationship, McClane and Jack return to New York, reuniting with Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), McClane’s oldest child and Jack’s sister.

REVIEW:

John McClane is back again and this time it is A Good Day to Die Hard for him. Ok…ok…that wasn’t exactly the best intro, but it is the best I could come up with at this late hour. This is a film that returns to its roots, both in tone and the R rating, but do we really need a 5th entry in this franchise?

What is this about?

New York cop John McClane goes to war with powerful criminal forces one more time when his son gets caught up in a rebel Russian’s prison escape. Operating on foreign soil, McClane tries to free his son but soon has a much bigger fight on his hands.

What did I like?

Action. A little action goes a long way, especially if it is all in good fun. As can be expected from any film in this franchise, except for that not so memorable Live Free or Die Hard. From beginning to end, this is everything you would want in an action film, including some scenes that make you go WTF?!?

Varro. Jai Courtney is not a bad actor, as can be seen in the first season of Spartacus. I was watching him here and I got to thinking…if they wanted to continue this franchise with a new hero, he would be a good choice, especially since he’s playing McClane’s son. He doesn’t quite have the charisma of Bruce Willis but, at the same time, they are different characters. The guy definitely has the build for an action star and has one of the best fights in the film, especially the way it ends. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say it could have been a fatality in a Mortal Kombat game.

Violent. As I mentioned earlier, this film returns to its R-rated roots and with all the blood we see in more than a few places. In an earlier post, I mentioned how most films nowadays are shying away from the R-rating just to make more money, thus sanitizing the final product. This film proves, as it made more than 3 times its budget, that R-rated action films make money just as well as PG and PG-13 films, maybe even better. Does no one remember that most films of this genre from the 80s were violent and bloody as hell, and made a ton of money!

What didn’t I like?

Chemistry. There didn’t seem to be any chemistry between Willis and Courtney. Granted, they are playing a father and his estranged son, but it didn’t come off that way. As a matter of fact, it felt like a bitter old man who was just in the way and the CIA agent who he kept getting in the way of. If they were going to play it that way, it could have been done more for laughs than a sad attempt at a subplot.

Family affair. Furthering that point, for a good chunk of the movie, the McClane men were at each other’s throats and then, out of nowhere, they seem to make up and all is forgiven. Perhaps this is something that ended up on the cutting room floor, but I would have liked to have known what happened or what was said to mend the broken fences between the two. It must have been something pretty major. Also, what was the point of having Mary Elizabeth Winstead reprise her role if she was nothing more than a cameo. Did no one see her kick Mae Whitman’s ass in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? She can hold her own when the time comes.

Antagonist. Films of this nature need a strong antagonist to serve as a focal point for everything that happens. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t really have one. With all the deception surrounding who the real villain is and the plot, it is hard to tell who’s who. I don’t have a problem with the all the switching, but rather the fact that no one settled in as the primary antagonist, which made it difficult to root against someone.

It is quite obvious that Bruce Willis’ heart wasn’t really in A Good Day to Die Hard. He seems tired, out of it, and appears to have only showed up to get a paycheck. However, this is not a totally horrible film. It has moments that are quite enjoyable, but if you’re looking for something to live up to the legacy of the original Die Hard, this isn’t it. Do I recommend it? Not strongly, but you won’t feel like you’ve wasted 97 minutes of your time.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “A Good Day to Die Hard”

  1. Solid review. The story was too weak, and didn’t even seem like a Die Hard film anymore. Although the actions may satisfy, it still failed to impress.

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