BRUCE WILLIS   JAI COURTNEY   

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

 The most appreciative thing I can say about the 5th Die Hard film is that Bruce Willis continues to prove that he is a relevant action star, even at 57. At this point Willis isn’t the testy action star he was in the previous films that date all the way back to 1988 when he had a little bit of hair; these films are more about the celebration of the brand. Willis, unlike many of his fellow actors of the 80’s and 90’s, has managed to sustain his career. He is likely more popular now than he ever was with sequels to Red and Sin City coming out. The franchise, however, has seen much better days. Like a marble dropped through wet toilet paper, this script doesn’t hold any amount of weight or even excitement.

Former hot shot detective John McClaine (Willis) takes a vacation to get his son Jack (Courtney) out of whatever trouble he has gotten into. When he arrives in Moscow, he quickly realizes that the trouble is his job as a spy. Like father, like son, the two gun toting men must protect a man wanted by the government for the secret file he has hidden, exposing lethal secrets. “I’m on vacation!” McClaine yells throughout his time in Russia. The two hot heads must put aside their differences if they want to survive. In a short amount of time, the McClaine duo manage to nearly destroy Moscow and what’s left of Chernobyl.

The James Bond series (which arguably has more to lose) had to make a significant change in order to stay relevant and continue its long running franchise. Die Hard, however, has chosen to stick with the same predictable formula that fails to reenergize a flailing, once popular franchise. Instead of a suspense thriller where circumstance matters, A Good Day to Die Hard is more of a destruction comedy. As boring and redundant as it is, without the repetitive car, truck, helicopter and building smashing, this action film would be a slow paced drama.

Australian actor Jai Courtney makes his second big feature film appearance, and this one isn’t much better than Jack Reacher. Courtney’s muscle and brawn standing next to Willis makes him appear one step closer to retirement. Yet that snarky smile Willis is known for assures us he is still very much in control of the situation. The son of John McClaine was featured in the original film, so that does give some credit to the character. However, after having the daughter (who is again played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in peril in the previous film, it makes you wonder what family member will appear in the next one.

 Final Thought – A good place to retire.

Grade D+

By: Dustin Chase W.


Dr. Donna Copeland’s

2nd OPINION

 It is difficult for me to see how stringing along a series of absurd car chases and crashes, gun fights, and explosions can make a movie.  Oh, yes, there are these tiny little segments of father-son communication and a couple of father-daughter exchanges in this film, but there are precious few, and what is there is poorly written and inappropriate for the situation most of the time.  Bruce Willis is the name draw who plays John McClane traveling to Russia(!) to have a reconciliation with his son Jack (Jai Courtney).  In addition to the absurdities above, this is still another aspect of the movie that doesn’t make sense.  Not only is his trip stupid, but he interrupts his son in what is obviously an important endeavor and gums up the works.  Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to redeem himself big time.

 Like its recent predecessors (The Last Stand and Parker, e.g.), scenes are set up purely to make the star look superhuman or to set up a car chase or create massive destruction.  As soon as I saw the ballroom with crystal chandeliers, I knew they would all be destroyed in a clanking mess.  And somehow, these guys run through torrents of bullets and explosions and crash into and over dozens of cars, escaping only with scratches. Of course, they leave dozens of dead bodies in their wake.  

 Absolutely the only part of this movie that has any interest or humor is Willis’ taxi ride into Moscow and the driver singing Frank Sinatra songs off-key.  That was a clever touch, and the McClane character’s sardonic reaction is a demonstration of his fine acting skills.  The wonderment is why he would be in such a badly written and produced film.     

By: Donna Copeland


Grade:  F