Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I love the Die Hard franchise. The original, Die Hard, as well as Die Hard with a Vengeance are two of my favorite action movies of all time. Combining the wit of Bruce Willis with whoever he's paired with in a given movie is a great recipe. Humor filled thrill rides occur no matter what era of Die Hard you're watching. A Good Day To Die Hard is almost no exception with it being a step up from Live Free Or Die Hard. The presumed last movie of the franchise sends John McClain out with a bang..and with his son, Jake aka John McClane Jr, by his side. 

A Good Day To Die Hard follows the story of John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he travels to Moscow, Russia, to rescue his son Jake McClane (Jai Courtney) form a corrupt Russian official. Jack is caught in the middle of a legal squabble between Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov), the corrupt Russian official, and former billionaire Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch). Yuri won't give up a secret file that has evidence to put Viktor away. Jake is willing to testify on Yuri's behalf for a shorter sentence as he is put on trial for assassination. John learns of all this and travels to Russia to save Jake. The two see each other for the first time in years after Viktor blows up the courthouse, freeing Yuri and Jake, trying to catch them. John rescues Jake and Yuri after an explosive car chase on the highways of Moscow, escaping Viktor and his men. John learns that his son is actually with the CIA and that he blew a three year operation. The three are forced to run as Viktor's men had caught up to them yet again. This explosion filled thrill ride continues and no one in the group are who they claim to be. All of this started out as a typical day in Russia with John McClane on vacation.

I came into this not expecting Oscar-worthy performances and wanting to see a high octane action movie. In that respect, I was not disappointed. Almost from the opening bell were are hit with a well planned assassination scene. Followed by a massive, car destroying chase on the highways in Moscow. There starting scenes are well worth the watch alone as they set the absurd tone of the movie from the get go. The action scenes were explosive, massive and over the top. But not to the point where it was unrealistic, to an extent. I'm looking at you Michael Bay. Bruce Willis is still excellent as John McClane and Jai Courntey was a great on screen compliment to him. There is no character development with the rest beyond, "He's an ally," "He's a bad guy," and "Here's a funny Russian cab driver." Bruce Willis still plays John as the lighthearted death machine with a quick wit. While Jai Courtney complements it well as the CIA agent who is much more by the book than his father. The dialogue moved the story along when it needed to. The one liners between the father and son duo were pretty solid as well. Speaking of story, this as a fairly standard one. Father saves son from Russians amidst massive amounts of gunfire. For any other movie, I'd complain more, but this is Die Hard, so come on.

The things that make me like this installment are also the things that don't distinguish it from the pack. Or even films from it's own franchise. The action is over the top and flashy, but none of it was eye popping as the movie drug on. Explosions repeated themselves as the movie developed. You can only crash a helicopter into a building so many times without it losing some luster. The car chase was the best part of this movie and it was out of the way early. With movies like this you have to keep me wanting more. This is not a story driven movie, so it won't happen on that end. The direction ranges from pull out explosions to slow motion helicopter crashes. John Moore has made two stinkers recently in The Omen and Max Payne. Had this not been Die Hard, this would've been another strike on his resume. While at times it shines, he has to make Skip Woods' lackluster screenplay and story LOOK good. That doesn't happen more often than not unfortunately. There are scenes that make me wonder why they were even written in. Thank God this wasn't a long movie and nothing felt draggy because Skip Woods' screenplay wan't even close to the best in the franchise. Bruce Willis and, relative newcomer, Jai Courntey can't carry a movie on their own. No one was able to keep up with them and it felt like it was a two man show. Even though Mary Elizabeth Winstead reprises her role as McClane's daughter, she doesn't add much. The rest of the cast who is actually involved in the story don't add much either.

It's never good in a review when I can tell my "bad" paragraph is longer than my "good" one. While I can still give this a re-watch someday, I'm not sure a lot of people can get behind this even just once. Much less multiple viewings. A Good Day To Die Hard is a send-off for John McClane and looks like a passing of the torch film of sorts. While I wouldn't like a spin-off with Jai Courntey, with the success of the franchise I wouldn't doubt them doing this. If you like high class action that doesn't involve Micheal Bay and robots, you'll be into this to an extent. Bruce Willis and his unique brand of humor infused with action was just enough to get me into one last John McClane action sequence.

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