It’s been twenty-five years since John McClane, a New York cop with a knack for shooting bad guys, first appeared on the big-screen. The 1988 action-hit, Die Hard, is considered to be one of the greatest action films of all time and Willis – in the role of a smart-mouthed McClane – a long-time celebrated action hero.
Therefore, it’s unfortunate to see that the Die Hard sequels – that’s five all together now – are slowly losing any sense of drive. With each new title being even more ridiculous and longer than the previous, the popular franchise’s plunge in quality has been there for all to see, especially so in its fifth instalment.
A Good Day to Die Hard sees the hard-hitting cop – now an indestructible machine – McClane travel to Russia to find his estranged son, Jack (Courtney). He soon learns that Jack is a CIA operative in the middle of a mission that requires him to safely get a Russian dissident and nuclear scientist out of the country. Unintentionally, McClane foils his son’s mission and, of course, soon gets himself involved in a scheme involving weapon-grade uranium and a gang of gun-toting Russian terrorists.
McClane’s parenting skills become the point of discussion as father and son team up to fight the bad guys. Awkward scenes of the boys bickering about their dysfunctional relationship, while gunning down dozens of men, follow.
First of all, did anyone know that John McClane had a son? Probably not, but that’s besides the point. Either way, this latest escapade feels like serious letdown. Generally considered an exciting and overall intelligent series – where prior criminals were ingenious and seriously twisted – A Good Day to Die Hard feels empty, lost and uncomfortable.
What happened to villains like Hans Gruber, brilliantly played by Alan Rickman, or Jeremy Irons’ exceptional Simon Peter Irons – the ‘Simon says’ loon. This calibre of characters, witty dialogue and relatable logic have been abandoned, leaving the legend of McClane to deal with the mess all by himself. Except McClane is no longer your average Joe trying to get out of a sticky situation; he has become a cartoon character of a man who cannot die.
To be fair, director John Moore does offer a few decent explosions to satisfy, but with no substance to hold the story together, fans will feel slightly cheated.
The overall material doesn’t deliver, nor do the characters. Fifty-eight year old Willis is back to his cheeky ways as he indulges himself in one of the laziest performances of his career. By the time he delivers his signature “Yippee ki yay”, it’s very difficult to care. In contrast, Courtney holds his own; although he lacks charisma in the more reflective moments of the film, he makes up for it in the high intensity fight-scenes.
Too loud for its own good, A Good Day to Die Hard is without a doubt one of the most disappointing additions to the Die Hard franchise and with a sixth instalment already in the works, there’s little to hope for.