For 50 years, six different actors have brought British super spy James Bond to life over 23 films creating one of the screen’s most iconic characters and filmdom’s greatest franchise. On this side of the pond, Bruce Willis reinvented the action hero and has thrilled us for 25 years as New York City detective John McClane, the American equivalent of Bond, in now five films. If only he had stopped at four.
1988’s “Die Hard” was, is, and shall remain the greatest cop-out-of-water action movie ever made. Two big, exciting top notch sequels followed to make it a solid trilogy. Then 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard” did the seemingly impossible by making McClane’s “Timex in a digital world” still the only man to save the day in a mammoth action flick that rivaled its previous sequels. The newest release, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” brings that momentum to a dead halt with a poor offering embarrassingly unworthy of its franchise name.
After a substandard opening involving some shady characters and protests in Russia, a scruffy looking somber McClane learns his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is imprisoned there. So daddy’s off to Russia to try and somehow free his son. He arrives and literally runs into Jack amidst explosions and shooting and tears off after him in a long absurdly over the top car chase that even has him take a phone call from his daughter during all the insanity. He then finds himself involved in an international mess with everybody supposedly after some mysterious files.
There’s an enormous amount of vehicular and property destruction, tons of flying bullets, earth shaking fireball explosions, some references to James Bond and even a dancing, carrot munching accented villain in a dark suit. Sadly absent are the sly wit and overall intelligence that are hallmarks of the “Die Hard” series. Also missing is the tired, here-we-go-again with sense of purpose John McClane we know and love. What we get is simply Bruce Willis driving, punching and shooting his way through a bad script.
“A Good Day to Day Hard” by any other name would still be a poor movie. As an entry into a beloved franchise, it goes beyond disappointing. It’s an early candidate for the year’s worst film.