Director: John Moore
Studio: Dune Entertainment
Let’s face it; it’s been a rough couple of decades for unabashed Die Hard diehards. The smart, gripping, best-yet 1988 original—featuring Bruce Willis as that fly in the ointment, spanner in the works, pain in the ass—is one of our great American action-suspense movies.
The John McClane character, as created by novelist Roderick Thorp, screenwriters Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza and Willis himself, is one helluva righter of wrongs, a tilter at terrorist windmills, an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances. In his first screen outing, our reluctant Jack the Giant Killer succeeded in saving a towering inferno office building. As if that weren’t enjoyably implausible enough, subsequent flicks had big trouble conveniently trailing him everywhere, leaving it up to reluctant hero McClane to save an entire airport and, later, a city.
Upping the ante, the fate of the world more or less depends on him in the humorless, mechanical, videogame-esque A Good Day to Die Hard, in which he heads off to Russia to try and help make a murder charge go away for his estranged son (Jai Courtney), who, he learns, is actually a CIA operative trying to bust a high-level lowlife. In the course of the action, he and his son argue pointlessly, survive a half-hearted car chase and helicopter shenanigans as well as wield big-ass automatic weaponry as they take on a succession of personality-free, colorless bad guys. The whole thing is loud, bloody and full of carnage, all right, but it’s slow, dumb and unambitious, let alone starving for snappy dialogue, style, resonance and human emotion.
Worse, the spit-in-your-eye, Roy Rogers-loving underdog smartass we fell for in Die Hard has, in this mess scripted by Skip Woods and directed by John Moore, devolved into a ranting psycho. The whole bloody thing is so dispiriting, such a steep comedown from the original Die Hard, that we wish someone would come to their senses and call this a good day to put a once-great franchise out of its misery. Meanwhile, Bruce Willis, as unwilling to go quietly as Stallone and Schwarzenegger, says he’s ready to saddle up for a sixth movie. Maybe they'll call it Old Soldiers Die Hard.