Thursday, February 14, 2013
'A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD' Is a Bad Day for John McClane and the 'DIE HARD' Franchise
In one of many throwaway lines in Bruce Willis's latest action trek as iconic hero John McClane, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, his son Jack (played by Jai Courtney) recites a line that goes like this, "Kind of thought we'd just wing it. Run in, guns a blazin' make it up as we go."
And that's exactly what I think the filmmakers of this project did when they decided to reunite Willis with his now rickety yet sturdy alter ego, without having a real story (especially one that is at least cohesive enough to enjoy) and while essentially shooting up everyone and everything in sight. That's putting it nicely.
When we first meet John, he's randomly and with no real explanation on his way to Russia on vacation (which he explains at least 5 times throughout the movie). Coincidentally, he runs into his estranged son (now working as a spy) while dodging bullets in a major shootout in the middle of the street (to which not a single member of law enforcement responds). The brouhaha is between Jack and a fugitive in his custody, and a whole bunch of bad guy Russians (this is all we really ever know about them for the duration of the entire movie).
Seeing his son in distress and losing the battle, John decides to join forces with him (having just as much knowledge as the audience ever knows about the what Jack is even doing--none). Together, the two team up for a wild, ridiculous action bromance riddled with haphazard comments from John hinting that this extremely dangerous situation that they're involved in is also a really nice way for them to bond.
Granted, Willis has always be able to sell a movie, even the dumbest of kind. But here he really has to bring out his best one liners, often in self-deprecating form targeting his age, to at least give this depressingly stale movie any glimmer of the goodness that once came from the Die Hard franchise.
Last year, audiences complained about the nearly nonexistent shaky camera effect in The Hunger Games, but if they couldn't bare that then they won't be able to possibly endure the shockingly aggressive camera panning as the director tries to balance between aerial and tight shots. It makes no sense, and it will give you a headache.
And speaking of aches and pains, if you're a Die Hard-er like I am you'll know that John could pretty much handle a building falling on him and walk out with maybe a limp and a bandage on his knee, if anything. But in A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, it looks like he might actually be immortal, and he may be able to fly. Seriously, this 50-something (albeit, still kickass) man and father takes flight into the air with no wings, escapes buildings that are engulfed in flames (on account of his own ignition, which means that the fire started right in his own hands), and falls numerous flights down a tower into glass windows and concrete. And apparently he's passed that trait along to his son, because he was as invincible as his dad. But each only walks away from the disaster with maybe a splinter and a daffy nod to their faux reconciliation.
This does not a good movie make.
First off, Willis is the man. And he is beyond this, and I'm sure he'll rise again and away from this nightmare. But A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It makes you think that the previous movies, or the first three really great ones, were all just a fluke. John McTiernan, you are sorely missed. That'll teach Hollywood to leave a sacred franchise in the hands of the guys who brought us Max Payne (director John Moore) and Swordfish (screenwriter Skip Woods).