January 27, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 32°F


Review: ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ misfires with action gimmicks

Bruce Willis reprises his role as John McClane in the fifth installment of the “Die Hard” franchise. It is 25 years since the original “Die Hard” release, and new director John Moore should have admitted the franchise’s defeat after the fourth installment’s flop in 2007.

McClane, a retired cop, flies to Moscow to stop a nuclear weapons heist. When he arrives, he runs into his son Jack (Jai Courtney), a CIA agent on the same mission. McClane is hesitant to enter a world of danger and risk his son’s life until he realizes his son has more power to save his out-of-shape dad.

The father-son relationship is the only genuine element to the otherwise slow script, and the actors make it believable. Though they may not resemble each other perfectly, it is their stubborn personalities that show they both stem from the same family tree. As McClane looks after Jack, it is revealed that each character will risk his own life for the other. Their back-to-back banter adds comedy to the film, and their ability to fight side-by-side to save the day drives the action.

The cinematography and explosions help keep the audience awake and alert. While the slow script makes the film hard to follow, the action guides viewers in the right direction. Whether Willis is jumping atop a building or crashing through glass with Courtney, the visual effects keep up the entertainment. The portrayal of McClane in this film is not as powerful as in past “Die Hard” films. Although crashing through glass and escaping an explosion may look intense, in the majority of the film, his character usually shoots his gun standing still while his son takes on the bad guys.

The setting of the film, Moscow, could have made the movie more aesthetically pleasing without the addition of so many special effects. Unlike in films such as “Taken 2,” which was set in Istanbul, the setting isn’t used to develop the story. Moore should have used the Russian setting to develop the script and make the characters more relatable. The director missed the opportunity to show the father and son struggling to fit into the Russian culture, which could have helped the audience connect with the characters.

The amplified sound effects intensify the action but can come across as obnoxious. Every character in the film seems to have unlimited gun ammunition, which hinders the potential suspense of the film. The shootouts and car chases are repetitive, and there is no clear moment that leaves viewers on the edge of their seat. The repeated explosions of bombs drag the film and come off as boring.

The film had potential to recreate the action and drama from the original films, but the franchise was meant to just be a trilogy. Moore should have taken a lesson from Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy and let the film go out with a bang while the franchise was still on top. Willis is a brilliant actor, but he is nothing more than an old man with a gun in this film. His character may seem invincible in the film, but it is time for this franchise to die.

2 stars

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney star in “Die Hard” revival.