3.78 out of 10
This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. I am a huge “Die Hard” and Bruce Willis fan. I was very worried when they announced they were making a fourth film after so much time had passed. I actually really like “Live Free or Die Hard”. It is one of the better examples of revisiting an older franchise. But, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is a poor, poor follow-up. Almost every single thing that made the “Die Hard” franchise great is missing from this latest film. John McClane feels like a different character, the action does not fit the formula and everything just feels forced and phoned in. There is some enjoyment to be had strictly as an over-the-top action movie, but beyond that, “Good Day” is very disappointing.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” is a forced sequel and a poor attempt to keep the momentum of the franchise going.
Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” opens in Baltimore on Feb. 14, 2012.
If you were to take this film out of the “Die Hard” franchise and use different characters, then it would rate a lot higher as a fun action flick. There is plenty of shooting, explosions and fun dialogue. It could have been a lot like “Dredd 3D” if it was a singular film, or even a remake of an older action film.
There are a few nice head nods to the original film.
Let’s change things up a bit and do this section by bullet points so it is easier to see how many things they got wrong.
First, the minor goofs:
- Way too much ‘shaky cam’. This is getting out of control in Hollywood. The chase scene at the beginning of the film gave me a headache.
- Not sure what the joke about ‘1986’ meant, because the original “Die Hard” released in 1988 (this could be something I just missed).
- The audio mixing was poorly done. There are a number of times where it is hard to make out the dialogue.
- Some of the subtitles left the screen too quickly.
- Many lines and scenes were changed from the trailer (this is not normally ‘bad’, but I liked all the trailer bits better than what they were changed to).
Now to the major goofs:
- The John McClane character is completely different. What made him great was he was just a normal cop caught in the wrong place at the right time to step it up and miraculously become a hero. Most of his jokes seemed more like a guy breaking the tension to ease the nerves when he knew he was in a situation way over his head. In “Good Day” he comes off more as a guy trying to be a bad-ass telling jokes to sound hard. This made all the jokes feel forced, like “Oh, we better make McClane tell a joke here.”
- Likewise, the plot did not work at all. John McClane goes to Russia to see his son. His son gets into a situation McClane does not understand. McClane just decides to start breaking dozens of international laws to help out his son. From the very first moment McClane is forcing himself into the action. He actually follows it to stay involved! Then, when the guys hit a proverbial wall he gives his son a pep talk and convinces him to get back into the action. This plot is nothing like the other “Die Hard” films and just feels ridiculous the whole time.
- The action was over-the-top for over-the-top sake. Even when “Live Free or Die Hard” got over-the-top with the jet scene, at least the entire film built up to that one ridiculous scene. “Good Day” is basically a montage of ridiculous scenes with no flow or realism at any point. A friend of mine put it beautifully when he said, “that movie was like a 90-minute trailer. I’m still waiting for the actual movie to begin.”
- The movie couldn’t decide if it was serious or campy. Sometimes it is perfectly acceptable for a film to just make fun of itself. Sometimes a late sequel can just be campy and pay tribute to the franchise by having a laugh at its own expense. “Good Day” couldn’t make up its mind and fumbled somewhere in the middle. At times the jokes and scenes were campy head nods. At times the action tried to set up a serious plot and tried to convince us it fit in the series. Going back and forth between styles is just annoying.
- There were a lot of missed opportunities. The filmmakers assume you are very familiar with the franchise (another mistake). This allowed the movie to pay tribute to the older films. So, if you are going to go that route, go all in. Where is the “Shoot the glass” line? Why can’t John say, “What is it with all these crazy bitches”? How about, “First Germans, now Russians!”? Seriously, I thought of at least 20 good lines and gimmicks that could have been thrown in there if the point was to make a fun throwback film. Most of them could have replaced much weaker ones that actually made the final cut.
- The whole film felt forced and phoned in. It was like no one even tried.
The Bottom Line
“A Good Day to Die Hard” may be an ok 90-minute action romp. However, since it is part of an iconic action franchise the poor effort cannot be overlooked. My friend also put it well when he renamed this film: “Die Hard 5: Yeah, It’s a Paycheck”. The John McClane character is completely different. The plot does not fit the franchise. The stylistic portions of the film are all bad choices. The action is absurd just to be absurd. Fans of the “Die Hard” series will be very disappointed with this one. I know; you have to see it. I did too. But, trust me; you’ll be less annoyed if you only spend $1.25 at the RedBox instead of $12 at the theater. Don’t show Hollywood any love for this film. They killed the franchise. Let them know it is time to let it rest in peace.