Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard- An Embarrassingly Bad Continuation of the Die Hard Franchise that Lacks Logic, Character, and Engaging Action

diehardcb11Twenty-five years ago director John McTiernan gave us a genre defining action film entitled Die Hard, which could be appropriately labeled a neo-western that found an intricate balance between character, frenetic violence, and intriguing plot. Throughout the continuation of the franchise there have been some minor deviations in quality when compared to its genesis film, especially with the last one Live Free or Die Hard, but ultimately there was always that John McClane charisma counteracted by an equally charming villain to make the whole experience worthwhile. Unfortunately for the franchise every single admirable quality that could possibly connect a Die Hard sequel to the original film is completely lost, or rather executed, in the latest illogical installment A Good Day to Die Hard. To even associate this piece of action drivel to a quality franchise is actually rather insulting to the previous Die Hard films and to dedicated fans. Instead of character, frenetic violence, and an intriguing plot we are given in its place statuette undeveloped archetypes, inconsequential mindless action distractions, and a plot so full of holes it could have been mistaken for an unkempt city road. Comparing A Good Day to Die Hard to its franchise predecessors would be drastically unfair because even as a stand-alone action film it fails on multiple levels. This latest Die Hard installment can only be described as a messy, nonsensical inaction film that loses all bearings of reality, which is actually essential to the Die Hard universe. The action genre has devolved ever since the original Die Hard came out twenty-five years ago and we’re seeing that virus spread into the movies that shaped our love of storytelling which in turn infects our memories. A Good Day to Die Hard isn’t a clever action film with charisma and action to spare but rather it’s the perfect way to go about killing a franchise with unbelievable obnoxiousness and increasingly dull repetitive action spectacle.

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Do your best to try and decipher the storyline of A Good Day to Die Hard because it’s pretty clear that screenwriter Skip Woods didn’t have a clue what he was writing. Woods is best known for ruining concepts from video games to comic books to television shows with horrid adaptations of Hitman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The A-Team respectively. His latest magnum opus of awfulness A Good Day to Die Hard makes little to no sense as the world of international espionage clashes with Russian politics for a riveting display of dullness. Repeating a mistake from Live Free or Die Hard we have John McClane entangled in an intra-family drama this time between father and son that does more damage to the image of John McClane than it does as a good plot device for the script. The script jumps around from terribly planned CIA operations, political frame jobs, an obligatory Chernobyl connection, and radiation neutralizing magic dust around boxes filled with uranium without any actual grounding as to how it all relates to one another. There is actually no real plot to A Good Day to Die Hard because what one person experiences another will experience something different, it’s just that illogical of a script. The real disservice, however, is the complete alien interpretation of the John McClane we’ve come to know and love. The sarcastic, charming personality has been completely neutered in most parts of the movie as John mostly wines and pouts about not being there for his son while he was growing up. John does indeed have flaws the movie doesn’t explore that but instead states it in lame dialogue while also making John completely unlikeable as he becomes a bull in a china shop destroying most of Moscow without any consideration of consequence. A Good Day to Die Hard story wise doesn’t live up to its thrilling predecessors and is purely dependent on brazenly chaotic action that isn’t necessarily well executed or intimately realistic.

The differences between Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard on a purely action executed level are so staggering it could probably be the subject of a doctoral thesis. In the original Die Hard director John McTiernan patiently built up the hostage situation in an enclosed environment forcing John as a dedicated cop to take matters into his own hands. With every kill and every encounter there was an immense feeling of danger putting John at constant risk of capture or even death. In A Good Day to Die Hard John unrealistically stumbles into his son’s CIA operation involving international terrorists and weapons grade uranium setting up mind boggling car chases, helicopter attacks, and unbelievable stunts. John mows down numerous attackers with a single clip of a machine gun without even ducking for cover giving us the illusion that he’s practically invincible. This is the same with the numerous car crashes he experiences without cuts, broken limbs, or the unfortunate dead innocent bystander. In the original three Die Hard films there is always a suspenseful feeling of risk and danger but that is purely non-existent in this latest installment. Not once do you feel that John might not be able to continue on or live through certain arduous tasks, such as running on glass or being trapped under a table with the need to reload for a few examples. One ridiculous moment is when John and his son actually surrender to the villains and they don’t kill them on the spot completely trivializing this poor excuse of an action film. The reality is that A Good Day to Die Hard should have been titled either A Good Day to Kill a Franchise or How to Miraculously Survive Unbelievable Situations as crazed stunt after stunt becomes less and less connected with gritty realism completely severing its connection from the first three Die Hards. Just because your action is loud doesn’t mean it’s at all suspenseful or interesting to watch. Director John Moore has a lot to learn but it appears from his earlier filmography filled with ruinous interpretations of other film classics like the remakes of The Omen and Flight of the Phoenix he’ll never learn.

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A Good Day to Die Hard is a complete failure on two levels the first being a successful continuation of the Die Hard franchise and the second just being a coherent and credible action movie on its own. The over the top and obnoxious action sequences are loud to be sure but there is no sense of danger throughout the entire film leaving you uninvolved in the story, the character, and the spectacle of the action. Throughout the original Die Hard franchise we have come to know John McClane as a charming and sarcastic anti-hero but in this current installment John teeters between neutered pouter and unlikeable walking destruction leaving you a bit perplexed as to how this script even passed minor critical assessment. Basically A Good Day to Die Hard becomes the embodiment of the devolved action genre that substitutes thrills with spectacle and character for cardboard placements. For the audience of the modern day who thrive off force fed nonsensical plot constructions and enjoy popcorn picture fireworks then it will probably be their next choice of the week before moving on to another devolved action movie and forgetting about this one entirely. However, for fans of the Die Hard franchise this will be an insult on numerous levels that doesn’t even resemble even slightly any of the original films that redefined a genre for the better. The real unbelievable stunt isn’t how John survived being launched through a glass window after hanging on a spiraling helicopter for five minutes without a scratch but rather that this script and this Die Hard film was actually made without any objection or inner shame.

Grade: D-

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