Sunday, February 17, 2013

Movie Review: A Good Day To Die Hard

The last installment of the Die Hard franchise, 2007's Live Free or Die Hard was preposterous, outlandish, over-the-top, excessively loud and, quite simply, absurd.

It was also loads of fun.

In the space of 129 minutes, Bruce Willis' indestructible beat-cop John McClane drove through walls, leaped from buildings, flung a patrol car at a helicopter and, yes, surfed on top of a crashing fighter jet, all while cracking wise in the pursuit of a gleefully wicket Timothy Oliphant with a happless Justin Long in tow.

The latest incarnation, A Good Day To Die Hard, which is set to explode into a megaplex near you this Valentine's Day, is just as loud, fast and improbable as you would expect (perhaps more so) but is also devoid of anything resembling emotion, tension or reason.

The film zips us into what you could describe as a plot, as John learns his son is in trouble in Russia, goes to Russia and seemingly walks off the plane into a high-stakes car chase. Why, you might ask, is this American tourist out of his jurisdiction stealing cars and destroying private property despite having no information about what's going on? "BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME!" director John Moore seems to scream at you through the screen as debris falls from the sky.

Plenty of movies wear the "non-stop action" badge with pride on their sleeve, but in AGDTDH the scenes bleed into each other with such wanton abandon for character develop and even plot narration that you find yourself at the climax of the film wondering when the story is going to start. The film's 97-minute running time feels like a quick half-hour television special as you patiently wait for exposition that never really seems to materializes.

Most tragically, Die Hard has a tradition of employing highly-entertaining and quotable bond-type Villains as a foil to the sarcastic McClane, from Hanz Gruber in DH1 to Oliphant's Thomas Gabriel in DH4. But in this latest attempt, it's hard to root for the McClane father and son because there's really no big baddie to root against, which makes the films BIG (predicatble) REVEAL all the more unnecessary. When the true mastermind steps out from the shadows it's simply too little too late.

I love Bruce Willis. Sure, he doesn't posses Day-Lewis levels of acting versatility, but he also brings the pain like few other American action stars can and, when given good material like the recent Looper or Red, puts on one heckuva show. To say that Willis "phones it in" for Die Hard 5 puts too much of the blame on the actor alone when in truth, the whole movie seems to have been conference-called by everyone from the director and writers to the craft services team.

So, Die Hard 5 is preposterous, outlandish, over-the-top, excessively loud and, quite simply, absurd. It's also full of wooden, inconsequential dialogue and pointless characters.

In short, it's big, dumb and, worst of all, boring.

Grade: C

*A Good Day To Die Hard opens wide in theaters on Feb. 14, 2013

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