Rated: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

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The unique thing about action films is that, typically, if they turn out to be popular and profitable, you can almost always guarantee that there will be a sequel. Similarly, if that original film experiences unusual success for all those involved, you can almost always guarantee that more than one sequel will be attempted. Rocky, Rambo, The Terminator, and Die Hard are all excellent examples. Sequels for these films should have stopped when the number that came after the main title was “2”, but that didn’t happen. These franchises were once solid and commendable film accomplishments; some of the most original and well-received additions to their genres. Today they are watered down, dogged by repetition, and reeking of executives trying to squeeze every last dime out of them. 

We can only blame ourselves. For some reason, we continue to go see and therefore fund these movies. After all, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis are just having fun and reliving their heyday over and over.  A Good Day to Die Hard is exactly that. This is a film whose sole purpose, it seems, is to entertain Bruce Willis. It’s easy to see that he had a lot of fun making this movie, and to some degree, the fun he has stepping into the familiar shoes of a character he’s played four times previously is also fun for the audience. The problem is that the franchise stopped trying to be serious and pushed the boundaries long ago. Instead, it plays it safe by rehashing what we’ve seen before and in the process, makes fun of the previous installments. A franchise has gone too far when it needs to sacrifice itself for nourishment. 

For starters, the legendary tough guy John McClain is transformed into a cartoon character. Everything he says is now funny, and his apparent immortality means that he can be as reckless and nonchalant as possible. The fact that the now elder John McClain’s grumpy outlook on life is the best part of this movie is also the worst part of this movie. Whatever writing was done must have been done on-the-fly, because there is certainly no discernible plotline to pick out of the loud explosions. The only tie to the previous films seems to be the name of the main character. Despite the rather absurd number of cars destroyed in the making of this movie, the action sequences are mostly yawn-inducing because of the questionable way in which they are filmed. A Good Day To Die Hard is, in short, a very disappointing and unfortunate film. It is yet another example of Hollywood extending itself too far.

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Story: John McClain’s son has been imprisoned in Russia. McClain rushes overseas to find out why. When he gets there, he finds a political scandal involving two powerful Russian men, with his son caught in the middle. Soon a team of special operatives tries to kill one of the Russian men involved in the scandal, and McClain’s son escapes. Eager to figure out what is going on, John assists his son, but becomes a fugitive himself while doing so. Will the stubborn, prideful duo be able to work as a team to sort out the confusion or are they doomed to be caught in the crossfire? Horrible (1.6/10)

Acting: No one really tries very hard, and it shows. Bruce Willis is a grumpier, wise-cracking version of John McClain. He rattles off lots of somewhat witty one-liners, mostly to himself. It’s one of those performances that is enjoyable for the audience, but you’ll have to stomach the disloyalty to the previous films. There are, perhaps, two times when the script calls for some serious acting and although Willis can do that sort of thing, it feels forced and out-of-place in the film. Jai Courtney plays John’s son, Jack. Jai also feels out-of-place in this movie, and although he’s good at action, he doesn’t really have any chemistry with Willis and seems intimidated by him. Sabastian Koch plays one of the feuding Russians, coming across as forced and somewhat odd in his performance. The rest of the cast are mainly a bunch of Russian bad guys who never really make much of an impression. Okay (5.2/10)

Direction: The director is John Moore, who has experience doing action films (Max Payne, Behind Enemy Lines). Why, then, was this one filmed so horribly? The movie suffers from lack-of-tripods and apparently drunk camera men, because they can’t seem to keep the subjects being filmed in the center of the screen. Part of the problem is that the entire film seems to be zoomed in way too far. There are action sequences where important moments are not even on screen because the camera is busy correcting its erratic movements. There are exactly two moments in this film where Moore manages to do something original and cool with the cameras. The rest of the film is a mess. Don’t see this one if you suffer from motion sickness, because even when the objects being filmed are static, the frame is wobbling around. Horrible (1.2/10)

Special Effects/X-Factor: Like the last installment in the series, this film relies heavily on CGI versions of its characters to pull off crazy stunts. Those moments are obvious but thankfully not that frequent. The sound effects are simply hilarious, or at least we can hope that that was what they were going for. If you like your action rough and tough, you’ll be amused that this film’s action scenes consist of mostly things blowing up and being crushed. ‘Crushed’ is a fitting description, as that is exactly what this movie does to the franchise. While the previous film seemed unnecessary, this one is downright offensive to fans of the original film. Okay (5.5/10)

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Rating: (3.4/10) = F (Avoid)

·         What’s Good: Some funny and entertaining moments, especially if you don’t take it too seriously. 

·         What’s Bad: Ruins the franchise with blatant disregard. Earthquake-style direction, phone-it-in acting, uninspired action, and complete lack of story or anything disguised as such.

Verdict: Another franchise destroyed by a needless sequel.