Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Series: Die Hard #5
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic
Director: John Moore
Release Date: 14 February 2013
Length: 97 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: Movie Theatre
When John McClane (Bruce Willis) hears that his son, Jack (Jai Courtney) is in prison in Moscow, Russia, he hurries overseas to try to help out, only to unwittingly foil a CIA plan to rescue scientist Yuri Kamarov (Sebastian Koch) that was three years in the making. Now it is up to John and Jack to obtain the top-secret file that Yuri hid years ago that will expose the current secretary of defense’s (Radivoje Bukvic) Chernobyl crimes.
It appears that most of the feedback on the fifth movie in the Die Hard franchise is negative. I was a bit surprised as I enjoyed the film and have recommended it to several friends. I watch a lot of action movies and, after a while, the action all blurs together. It is the really good and really bad characters that stand out in my mind and the character of John McClane, as played by Bruce Willis is one of my hands-down favorites. Bruce Willis’s acting takes any movie in the Die Hard series to a higher rating, in my opinion, than most action movies out there. That said, the plot was a bit convoluted and seemed unnecessarily complicated with double and triple crosses, but forget about it being completely implausible and just enjoy the ride.
A Good Day to Die Hard begins with a killer car chase. Jack and Yuri are being chased by a bunch of bad guys in some kind of tank-like vehicle that seems virtually indestructible. John is chasing the bad guys in various vehicles and these three cars are wreaking havoc on Moscow traffic! Cars are crushed, driven over, pushed off of overpasses, spun out, crunched in between good and bad guys, knocked about as the vehicles go barreling down narrow streets and there is a lot of damage! The movie ends with in the truly creepy setting of Chernobyl. The city is still standing just as it was when 50,000 people were evacuated overnight. Papers, personal effects and other items are left on desks waiting for workers to return. There are plenty of hiding places, as well as the threat of radiation to prickle the skin on the back of your neck as you wait to see how John and Jack will take down the bad guys and save the world. There are some other cool sequences, but I felt that the Moscow location was a bit underutilized and would have liked to see some more iconic locations or get a better feel for the Russian setting. Luckily, the beginning and end of the movie were strong and left me feeling that the movie was stronger than it really is.
Bruce Willis dominates the movie. The little quirk to his mouth when he is amused and his dead-pan delivery of funny lines in the midst of serious situations make the John McClane character something special. This movie is better than most of the action movies out there because of the humor. You feel guilty for laughing in the middle of some pretty intense fight sequences, but you just can’t help it – they are too funny! Bruce Willis’s character, John McClane, makes constant reference to being on vacation and not understanding anything that is said to him. There are lots of little funny sequences if you are on the lookout for them. It starts off with John accidentally asking for a bag of hair on his way to the courthouse as he tries to use his “Idiot’s Travel Guide.” It peaks in the middle when John McClane (Bruce Willis), his son, Jack (Jai Courtney) and the scientist, Yuri (Sebastian Koch) are riding in an elevator with “The Girl from Ipanema” muzak playing on their way up. Most of the gags are not really verbal, but quiet moments that will give you a chance to giggle and lighten up on the intense fighting sequences that are happening all of the time. For me, these moments are what set the Die Hard franchise apart from the other action movies out there. They don’t appear to take themselves too seriously so I can just relax and enjoy myself as I wait to see how Bruce Willis is going to save the day – again.
I thought the acting was solid, though some of the bad guys were a bit too over-the-top. Jai Courtney held his own with Bruce Willis and I felt that these two had good synergy together. If they are planning on a hand off on the franchise, they could do worse. John McClane’s daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is featured at the beginning and end of the movie in the USA so I am not sure if they are trying to set up both son and daughter taking over for their father or what. That would be a refreshing change and quite a bit of fun, actually. Here’s hoping that we will see all three McClanes in the next movie!
If you are looking to be hypercritical of this movie, there is a lot to criticize. There are the usual impossible-to-escape-that-many-bullets-moments, some badly done CGI and a lot of location jumping with little to link it. McClane’s character seems a bit like a fish-out-of-water in Russia and I was not quite sure why they took him out of the USA (other than the chance to say “Yippee-ki-yay Mother Russia!”), but I was okay with it. Also, I had no idea that McClane had a son at all, but then, we just recently learned that he had a daughter in movie #4 (Live Free or Die Hard) so there you go. Coincidences and luck play a large part in this movie, but none of this bothered me at all. I was not in the movies to see something realistic, I was there to be entertained! And I was.
This movie contains violence and death. Characters are killed in many ways, but mostly shot with guns. There is a lot of blood and dead bodies. Explosions, helicopter blades and knives are also used to kill people. The bad guys use the “f” word a lot and there is some other strong language. Recommended for ages 18 and up.