Before enduring the relentlessly stupid and aggressively dull A Good Day to Die Hard, it might be wise to partake of Die Hard 2. Why? To get a glimpse of how the film generally considered the worst of the franchise is still far superior to this junk. At least Die Hard 2 seemed to have an idea of what made everyman cop hero John McClane cool. He was a regular guy, who used his blue-collar skills and wits to overcome incredible odds, saving people in the process. But now, there's no problem that can't be solved by simply picking up a bigger gun and spraying a room full of bullets. This...IS Die Hard, right?
You might find yourself asking that question pretty early on, wondering if the film had been replaced with one of those dumb ass action flicks from a Luc Besson protégé or something. No, it's the right movie, unfortunately. The series has been in decline ever since 2007's feeble Live Free or Die Hard, but there was a notable lack of interest in improvement from the moment this one was announced. Die Hard doesn't require an overly complicated plot, and apparently proven-lousy screenwriter Skip Woods (X-men Origins: Wolverine) decided merely putting McClane in Russia was more than enough. The next step on the road to inferiority was the hiring of John Moore, whose claim-to-fame is directing such action gems as Behind Enemy Lines and Max Payne. So we're not exactly talking John McTiernan, are we? We're not even talking Len Wiseman.
Note that we haven't even gotten to Bruce Willis yet, and part of the reason is he looks as old and disinterested as ever. He lumbers his way through with all the enthusiasm of a high-priced athlete with a hangnail, and it's really hard to blame him. This McClane is totally unrecognizable. He's a whining, complaining, but utterly invincible old man who survives crashes from unbelievable heights and outruns helicopter bullets. It'd be one thing if he had a few clever one-liners to lighten the mood, but the script is completely lacking in humor. By the time McClane moans for the fifth time about being on vacation, you know the well has completely run dry.
Utterly pointless from the very beginning, what passes for a story has McClane jetting off to Russia to attend the trial of his son, Jack (the stiff and charisma-free Jai Courtney). What's he in trouble for? He shot some dude in a nightclub. Why? Who knows? Who are all the nameless, faceless Russian thugs who have the populace up in arms? No idea. It doesn't really matter. Everybody's pretty much a walking MacGuffin, and that's before we get to the actual MacGuffin. Jack, it turns out, is actually undercover and must protect some guy who has access to a top secret file. We know it's important because they spend so much time telling us about it. Oh wait, no they don't. Father and son haven't seen one another in years. There's obviously some heated tension because Jack won't call him "Dad".
Without much rhyme or reason, we get an overlong car chase through the city streets, which would be awesome if directed by anyone of note. The same goes for much of the major set pieces, which are big and noisy and poorly staged. Die Hard has never been so loud or more boring. There are no villains worth mentioning, little dynamic between Willis and Courtney, and the whole thing just feels like a weak attempt to keep the franchise going. Even the trademark "Yippee kai-yay" is an afterthought.
Willis recently came out and revealed that a sixth film is in the works. It's not a surprise, really. In fact, it only supports that it no longer matters the quality of the movies themselves. These are money printing operations and nothing more. We'd all be better served if Die Hard would simply die already.