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Review: A Good Day to Die Hard (JimmyO's take)

Feb. 15, 2013by: JimmyO
NOTE: I've been reviewing each of the previous films from this franchise all week long, any of which you can read here: DIE HARD, DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD.

PLOT:When John McClanes son Jack is arrested in Russia, the detective gets on a plane in hopes to help his troubled spawn. Once he arrives he soon comes to the realization his his boy is a CIA operative looking to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist.

REVIEW: DIE HARD is hands down my favorite action franchise. The first film is simply a classic and for the most part the sequels were much better than they had any right to be. So going into A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, my excitement level was pretty high. While director John Moore beats you down with explosions, gun fire and one insane freeway chase, he continues the trend started with LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD of turning Bruce Willis iconic character into a larger-than-life superhero with a chip on his shoulder. Honestly, the first time I caught the latest installment I enjoyed the hell out of it in a guilty pleasure sort of way. It was 97 minutes of amped up thrills with little substance aside from things that go boom.

Over the past few weeks, Ive been reliving this franchise thanks to the re-release of the DIE HARD Blu-ray collection. That was after watching the latest film of course, and as I reconnected with the entire history, the issues with A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD became very apparent when I decided to give it another watch. This is a flawed yet enjoyable generic action flick. You could certainly compare it to LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD as McClane continues to morph into an entirely different character. And with a couple of viewings under my belt and a chance to give the entire series a fresh look I found myself at this conclusion as a die hard fan of DIE HARD it was an entertaining enough ride that doesn't live up to the previous films.

The flaws here are obvious as the series is straying farther and farther away from what it once was. Bruce Willis fighting bad guys under impossible odds is the basic outline and a good one at that. It can be argued that a character which has held up after twenty-five years should change with the times. However McClanes tenacity is beyond anything you could ever imagine. Considering he is just a New York cop and a few years older I might add it seems that he has a harder time to die than ever before. Willis clearly is still having fun with the iconic John McClane and there is a sense that he may continue to return to this character. The question is with this direction, will he be some sort of freaking TERMINATOR at the end of it all?

In the latest adventure, the once reluctant hero finds himself on route to Russia to help his son Jack (Jai Courtney) who has been arrested for a pretty darn serious offense. It doesnt take long for dear old dad to discover what is really going on and to aid his son on his mission. I dont want to go into the plot too much here but the thieves this time around are looking to steal nuclear-weapons which would suck for everybody. That and it seems that Jack has followed in his fathers footsteps more than his father had imagined. At one point McClane asks his son if he wants a hug, Jack responds simply with, Were not a hugging family. There is a lot of truth to that as there isnt a lot of heart in this ammunition fueled flick.

The best thing about A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is the relationship with Courtney and Willis. Watching them together was a lot of fun and for me the two actors make an explosive duo. A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD would be a great day for DIE HARD fans if it leads to these two actors working together in another film along with Bonnie Bedelia (DIE HARD, DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) Winstead shows up for a cameo here. The broken relationship in this family for another Christmas themed flick might be a good place to start. It would also be terrific to see another great DIE HARD movie that features a strong villain.

Speaking of villains, that is one of the problems with this latest installment. Firstly it would be difficult to really talk in-depth about them as it might give too much away. Secondly, most of them are not all that memorable. They die quite well and they are perfect fodder for father and son to shoot down and/or blow up depending on the specific situation. Not a one of these folks really stand out in any way and this includes the main nemesis that remains shrouded in mystery for most of the feature. Isnt there another pissed off Gruber somewhere?

Director John Moore really went into this full steam ahead. The action is over-the-top with massive car chases with countless vehicles being destroyed. He even takes the action to Chernobyl in one of the biggest and loudest action set pieces Ive seen recently. There are a number of eye-popping moments throughout and that sure helps the movie run its course quick enough. Still the cartoonish nature of all of this tends to feel a little clunky and beyond logic defying. Of course you cant take all this very seriously especially when the McClane duo is smashing through a number of windows without a scratch. A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is a bombastic action flick, nothing more. With a flat script by Skip Woods and John Moore at the helm, that is what you get. For some viewers, this may not be such a bad thing.

Willis still works for me and unlike some I found Courtney to be a strong action hero on his own the plan is clearly to hand over the franchise reins to Jack. After some really pleasant time revisiting the first four flicks, I was reminded how much more this series is than mindless action. The first three DIE HARD films are near perfect examples of how great a film like this can be especially the first which may very well be my favorite film in this genre. Optimistic as it may be, I was able to still see glimmers of that in A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD even if it is just a mindless action flick. I had a decent time but Im hoping next time we get a little bit of that old reliable John McClane back... and yes, I hope there is a next time.

Extra Tidbit: Should this be the end of the DIE HARD franchise?
Source: JoBlo.com

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5:31AM on 02/26/2013

i hope

the next one will be the last, and also a great movie. this was a POS.
the next one will be the last, and also a great movie. this was a POS.
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12:20PM on 02/18/2013

DISAGREE. BIG.

I don't know what all the reviewers and critics are talkin' about when the shoot down this movie. My brother and I went to see it Friday night -- he read a few reviews thumbin' it down, I hear/read nothin' -- and we GOT IT. We understood the whole film from start to end. One key element to the character of John McClane, living in 2013, is that he's not the wiseass New York cop trying to stay alive in LA in 1988. He's an old, tough, wiseass New York cop who DOESN'T CARE anymore... at least in
I don't know what all the reviewers and critics are talkin' about when the shoot down this movie. My brother and I went to see it Friday night -- he read a few reviews thumbin' it down, I hear/read nothin' -- and we GOT IT. We understood the whole film from start to end. One key element to the character of John McClane, living in 2013, is that he's not the wiseass New York cop trying to stay alive in LA in 1988. He's an old, tough, wiseass New York cop who DOESN'T CARE anymore... at least in the sense that he's spent the last 25 years, practically, either BLOWING SOMEONE UP or GETTING BLOWN UP. Other than the occasional "JESUS!" (I counted six, I believe.. and one from Jack), this is another day at the office for him. This is who John McClane is, and he's accepted that threats, explosions, pain, gunfire, brushes with death... all part of the job. In fact, you know how they say if you keep calm and loose, you can survive an impact/fall better than tensing up? I'd go so far as to say that loosens him up enough to literally take the heavy blows and survive like any veteran stuntman, soldier, or superhero because THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE IS. He's the frickin' BATMAN, folks. He'll live enough for three or four more films until he's a dementia-ridden octogenarian (taking place mostly in his head, when we get to see the much-wished Alan Rickman/Jeremy Irons return as the late Gruber boys) but the only way he's dyin' in liver failure or cancer like the Duke. Yippe-Kay-Yay, motherfucker.
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9:21PM on 02/15/2013

Had a blast!

Had a blast with A Good Day to Die Hard! Don't get all the hate. Maybe it's because after the meh Part 4, I gave up on Die Hard ever being like the OG trilogy again or maybe cause all I craved was a fun, fast paced and mindless action film with funny lines, engaging chemistry between the two leads and sleek money shots. Either way, although not near the class of the original trilogy (the editing was way too tight BTW), it was a groovy ride! Yippee ki yay! Bring on Part 6!
Had a blast with A Good Day to Die Hard! Don't get all the hate. Maybe it's because after the meh Part 4, I gave up on Die Hard ever being like the OG trilogy again or maybe cause all I craved was a fun, fast paced and mindless action film with funny lines, engaging chemistry between the two leads and sleek money shots. Either way, although not near the class of the original trilogy (the editing was way too tight BTW), it was a groovy ride! Yippee ki yay! Bring on Part 6!
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12:42PM on 02/15/2013
The movie is just terrible. The plot is non existent, the editing is ridiculously bad... It feels like a really shitty action script that they shoehorned Bruce Willis in to make it a Die Hard. The dialog is a joke... John reminds Jack "I'm your father!" about fifteen times. It's literally almost half way through the movie before we are told what is happening... They're looking for a "file" that is important to national security. What's in this file, why it's important, etc.... Never revealed.
The movie is just terrible. The plot is non existent, the editing is ridiculously bad... It feels like a really shitty action script that they shoehorned Bruce Willis in to make it a Die Hard. The dialog is a joke... John reminds Jack "I'm your father!" about fifteen times. It's literally almost half way through the movie before we are told what is happening... They're looking for a "file" that is important to national security. What's in this file, why it's important, etc.... Never revealed. Just ugh I could go on all day about this it's just awful.
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10:31AM on 02/15/2013

I liked it...

...I saw it last night and I think it has a lot more going for it than against it. I loved Live Free but in this one we get more of the classic smart aleck McClane and I loved that. The two things I'm not understanding from a lot of reviews I've been reading are 1 - the film not having any heart and 2 - the McClane boys not getting scratched up. First of all there's actually a lot of emotion and heart between father and son, especially before they go into the final battle and there's
...I saw it last night and I think it has a lot more going for it than against it. I loved Live Free but in this one we get more of the classic smart aleck McClane and I loved that. The two things I'm not understanding from a lot of reviews I've been reading are 1 - the film not having any heart and 2 - the McClane boys not getting scratched up. First of all there's actually a lot of emotion and heart between father and son, especially before they go into the final battle and there's definitely development there. Secondly, halfway through the movie both our heroes are already battered and bruised especially the son and by the end the elder McClane is covered in blood so I'm tired of hearing this sentiment that they go through the movie unharmed because it's bullshit.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie and would love to see a sixth film with just Willis and maybe a sidekick in the vain of Reginald VelJohnson from the first movie but have the kids and definitely Holly making cameos.
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+4
9:06AM on 02/15/2013
I thought this film was more of a "grown up" action flick than the last, with Bruce bringing a lot more humor to the role than in the previous installment. He and Jai made a good team, and the action set pieces were well executed. Even if I would've preferred more classic cinematography to the shaky-cam used here. And I thought there was a decent amount of heart as well. You could tell that there was even more that father and son wanted to say to each other, but were maybe too "masculine" to do
I thought this film was more of a "grown up" action flick than the last, with Bruce bringing a lot more humor to the role than in the previous installment. He and Jai made a good team, and the action set pieces were well executed. Even if I would've preferred more classic cinematography to the shaky-cam used here. And I thought there was a decent amount of heart as well. You could tell that there was even more that father and son wanted to say to each other, but were maybe too "masculine" to do so. "Guys don't talk about their feelings", as they say. Also kind of liked the McTiernan lense flares and what sounded like the original Die Hard score. So I hope there is one more DH to wrap everything up in a nice way for the entire McClane family, Holly included.
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8:47AM on 02/15/2013
One of the problems I foresee is that making his sun some superhero soldier really takes away from what Willis says in the 4rth film to what's his face in the car. The whole "I'm no hero, divorced, kids hate me, but I am the only guy that can do this right now so I do it" or however the quote goes. They basically took away a certain humanity that made the first 3 Die Hard'ss great. His son being a super spy just makes him less relatable and the whole "Wrong place, wrong time" pointless.
I
One of the problems I foresee is that making his sun some superhero soldier really takes away from what Willis says in the 4rth film to what's his face in the car. The whole "I'm no hero, divorced, kids hate me, but I am the only guy that can do this right now so I do it" or however the quote goes. They basically took away a certain humanity that made the first 3 Die Hard'ss great. His son being a super spy just makes him less relatable and the whole "Wrong place, wrong time" pointless.
I love the first 3, even like most of the 4rth but this I will have to wait till it's either really cheap to buy or netflix or something cause I have no desire to see this anytime soon.
The only way to save the heart of the series is putting new Mclane in situations similar to the first series, LESS unrealistic fights and more realism. Keep the film grounded.
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+3
7:38AM on 02/15/2013

I'm not sure whether or not I'll give this one a shot...

I absolutely loved the original trilogy, and while I really enjoyed Live Free for what it was (a mindless popcorn flick,) it didn't feel like a Die Hard whatsoever. Set aside the fact that these roles were either not written for McClaine, or that the screenwriters had never seen a Die Hard, we've turned Willis into our plain clothes bald headed Superman. It's almost like he thinks the director doesn't expect a performance from him, just shoot this, bomb that, surf this dumptruck, kill the
I absolutely loved the original trilogy, and while I really enjoyed Live Free for what it was (a mindless popcorn flick,) it didn't feel like a Die Hard whatsoever. Set aside the fact that these roles were either not written for McClaine, or that the screenwriters had never seen a Die Hard, we've turned Willis into our plain clothes bald headed Superman. It's almost like he thinks the director doesn't expect a performance from him, just shoot this, bomb that, surf this dumptruck, kill the miscast villain... We haven't actually gotten a good performance from him since Unbreakable (which doesn't exactly help the whole superhero thing) because the directors are either too young to notice he's just playing Bruce Willis, or their too distracted with what the scene will look like when the CGI is done rendering. I honestly think they best acting I've seen from him in the last 10 years, was when he was playing himself in What Just Happened.
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10:12AM on 02/15/2013
Willis was great in Moonrise Kingdom and Looper. I actually thought he stole Moonrise Kingdom with his performance which is saying a lot since you also have Murray and Norton in the cast.
Willis was great in Moonrise Kingdom and Looper. I actually thought he stole Moonrise Kingdom with his performance which is saying a lot since you also have Murray and Norton in the cast.
+12
6:50AM on 02/15/2013
This was on par with the last one. Very disappointing. Like the last one, a very entertaining Bruce Willis action movie, but not Die Hard. I think the only way to really save the franchise is to make one final film, preferably with John Mctiernan directing (obviously after he is released from prison), and bring it all back to the roots of the series. Bring back a lot of familiar faces, have it take place around Christmas time again and even throw in an interesting plot twist involving the
This was on par with the last one. Very disappointing. Like the last one, a very entertaining Bruce Willis action movie, but not Die Hard. I think the only way to really save the franchise is to make one final film, preferably with John Mctiernan directing (obviously after he is released from prison), and bring it all back to the roots of the series. Bring back a lot of familiar faces, have it take place around Christmas time again and even throw in an interesting plot twist involving the Nakatomi corporation (or something along those lines). It's just gotten to the point where it doesn't feel like Die Hard anymore, which is rather depressing.
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5:47AM on 02/15/2013

Bah, the series is officially dead.

The movie was so horrible. The director of Max Payne just needs to never work in the industry again. The next one needs to be much smaller, John McClane needs to work alone (or get samuel l jackson back) take place in a single setting (like 1-2) and be much smaller in scale. No more superhero bullshit. They made him too invincible and it takes away the charm of the original trilogy.
The movie was so horrible. The director of Max Payne just needs to never work in the industry again. The next one needs to be much smaller, John McClane needs to work alone (or get samuel l jackson back) take place in a single setting (like 1-2) and be much smaller in scale. No more superhero bullshit. They made him too invincible and it takes away the charm of the original trilogy.
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3:12AM on 02/15/2013

Pretty much agree

It's nowhere near the old ones but it was some solid mindless action that wouldn't be hated if it was stand alone. While I didn't hate it I agree with the masses they need to bring mcclane down to earth and maybe do another confined movie and none of this him saving the world stuff.
It's nowhere near the old ones but it was some solid mindless action that wouldn't be hated if it was stand alone. While I didn't hate it I agree with the masses they need to bring mcclane down to earth and maybe do another confined movie and none of this him saving the world stuff.
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+4
1:51AM on 02/15/2013
Guess I'll wait for the dvd. I was hoping this wouldn't be as bad as everyone thought it would be, but it seems that everything behind this film, from the short time length to the pedigree behind the camera has led to making a generic actioneer out of one of the best action film franchises in the history of cinema. Hopefully they make a sixth (and final) film, but end it the way everyone wants to see and not what the studio thinks people want to see.
Guess I'll wait for the dvd. I was hoping this wouldn't be as bad as everyone thought it would be, but it seems that everything behind this film, from the short time length to the pedigree behind the camera has led to making a generic actioneer out of one of the best action film franchises in the history of cinema. Hopefully they make a sixth (and final) film, but end it the way everyone wants to see and not what the studio thinks people want to see.
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1:10AM on 02/15/2013
I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would and I happened to enjoy this entry more than Live Free and Die Hard. Did it have it's problems? Sure, like the fact that the villain was weak and not very memorable, and that the movie was too short ( I feel that there will be an extended edition when it hits blu ray). I did enjoy the fact that it took place in another country, the relationship between John and Jack was great with some heartfelt, hilarious moments, and I thought the action was
I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would and I happened to enjoy this entry more than Live Free and Die Hard. Did it have it's problems? Sure, like the fact that the villain was weak and not very memorable, and that the movie was too short ( I feel that there will be an extended edition when it hits blu ray). I did enjoy the fact that it took place in another country, the relationship between John and Jack was great with some heartfelt, hilarious moments, and I thought the action was better this time around than in Live Free or Die Hard. Overall, the film is fun and one shouldn't think too much when going to see the film.

I would also be up for one more film that brings the franchise full circle somehow.
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