TV Review: Die Hart starring Kevin Hart and John Travolta

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

TV Review, review, Die Hart, John Travolta, nathalie emmanuel, Kevin Hart, comedy, Quibi

Synopsis: Kevin Hart plays a fictionalized version of himself who’s tired of being the comedic sidekick. He gets his wish when a famous director offers him his dream – to be a leading man action star – but there’s a catch: Kevin must first train at the world’s greatest action star school, run by a lunatic. Pushed to his limits by this action school coach and a tough-minded rival student, Kevin must survive a series of hilarious, over-the-top action sequences and face his fears if he wants to achieve his dream and land the role of a lifetime. 

TV Review, review, Die Hart, John Travolta, nathalie emmanuel, Kevin Hart, comedy, Quibi

Review: Quibi has yet to really release a series or film that has been worthy of the subscription price. I have enjoyed several options on the service, but none have come close to rivalling what the other streamers have to offer. When Die Hart was first announced, I assumed it was a feature film. When Quibi acquired it, I assumed it was a TV show. The reality is that it is a blend of both. Released in chapters, Die Hart is truly a movie experience in bite-sized episodes. With Kevin Hart playing his typical role and John Travolta definitely not, this is a hilarious comedy that deserves to be watched by a wide audience. Clocking in at under 90 minutes, Die Hart is quick, funny, and an absolute blast.

Kevin Hart's fictionalized character is, like the real actor, a comedy star who frequently stars alongside Dwayne Johnson. But, this Kevin yearns to be a leading man in action films. After an offer from a renowned action director (THE PROFESSIONAL's Jean Reno), Kevin enrolls in a boot camp run by Ron Wilcox (John Travolta). Wilcox is responsible for making all of the best action starts from Jackie Chan and Dolph Lundgren to Matt Damon and Chuck Norris into the superstars they are today. Wilcox is, of course, a bit demented as you can see in the trailers but there is a method to his madness. Kevin struggles to adjust even when he is joined by a classmate (Nathalie Emmanuel). What follows is a series of misadventures as Kevin tries to figure out what the hell is really going on at Ron Wilcox's school.

Created by Tripper Clancy (STUBER) and Derek Kolstad (JOHN WICK), Die Hart sends up all of the cliches and hallmarks of action movies today as well as classics from the 1980s and 1990s. There is a lot here to love as each episode is quick and full of memorable moments both comedic and action-oriented. All 10 episodes were directed by Eric Appel, best known for his work on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Silicon Valley. Having seen the first three episodes (available now via Quibi), I can say that it is fast paced like a feature film but contained within perfectly segmented chapters. Had Die Hart been released on a traditional platform, it would have easily earned an R rating for violence and profanity. This is definitely mature Kevin Hart and not safe, family-friendly Kevin Hart. An acquired taste for many, Kevin Hart shows a lot of personality here and is not afraid to mock himself and his notorious fear of certain animals.

But, while his name may be in the title, this series is not just a showcase for Kevin Hart. John Travolta delivers one of the best performances he has had in twenty years, not counting his great turn in American Crime Story on FX. Travolta has great comedic timing and fully inhabits Ron Wilcox by giving him odd ticks and weird quirks that allow Kevin Hart to often play the straight man opposite him. There are a lot of funny parts of this series but most of them belong to Travolta rather than Hart. With his head shaved sporting a scruffy beard, John Travolta looks like a different actor than we have been accustomed to and it gives him a new energy. Hopefully this propels him into an entirely new phase of his career rather than appearing in countless Redbox flicks and throwaway VOD offerings.

TV Review, review, Die Hart, John Travolta, nathalie emmanuel, Kevin Hart, comedy, Quibi

Nathalie Emmanuel also gets another nice role to compliment her resume since the end of Game of Thrones. Here she plays a sitcom actress trying to break free from being typecast and offers a non-traditional love interest for Hart. The two play well off of each other and Emmanuel's experience on GoT and the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise comes in handy here. Josh Hartnett also has a great role as a veteran of Ron Wilcox's school. Everyone here is fully invested, none more than Hart himself. Clearly he is playing this concept for laughs, but after seeing Die Hart I can see Kevin Hart in an action role. This is definitely not it and I am thankful for that.

Die Hart is a comedy through and through but on that works as a standalone film released in chapters. Unlike other Quibi productions, this one was presented in a traditional widescreen format. but it really doesn't need a schtick to work and works well on the service's bite-sized platform. Die Hart is a funny movie and one that will have you grinning as you watch it. From Kevin Hart versus a squirrel to John Travolta's prized necklace, Die Hart is chock full of quotable lines and is very rewatchable.

Die Hart premieres July 20th on Quibi with new chapters released daily.

TV Review: Die Hart starring Kevin Hart and John Travolta

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Source: JoBlo.com

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.