A Good Day to Die Hard - Review



Die Hard 4 was despite a lack of that certain 80's/90's "Die Hard feel" a very satisfying action flick all around, practically defying the odds of fourth entries in a franchise.
With that said, my worries about Die Hard 5 were pretty much put to rest right from the start.
Bruce Willis still seems to be in top form for action movies and even his sidekick now is a badass too, instead of a joking goofball (Sam Jackson doesn't count - he kicks ass!).
When the trailer for Die Hard 5 got released, the action and mayhem going on made me so confident in this movie that next to Lone Ranger i would rank it up there with my most anticipated movies of 2013.
Does Die Hard 5 surprise just like part four or is it a terrible misfire?



The plot:
John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack (Jai Courtney), only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces. (source: IMDb)

Die Hard movies were never really strong contestants when it came to telling a very good story. But there, it has to be considered that the stories of Die Hard movies always had a certain theme of "the right guy at the wrong place at the wrong time".

The movie's main story about rescuing John McClane's son Jack and fighting the terrorist forces is being held very basic (even for a Die Hard) movie. And although the story holds some basic twists and turns here and there, it is nothing to write home about or to give a deeper meaning in the end other than letting things explode nicely.
Clocking in at about 90 minutes, Die Hard 5, is by far the shortest of the franchise but considering how unengaging the story is told, this isn't that big of a deal anyway.
But that's only the surface of the real things that are wrong with Die Hard 5.

When Tom Hardy was too expensive.

Though the movie's general atmosphere and presentation is quite a bit more gloomy and dark than in previous entries, director John Moore probably didn't even know that some of the essential main elements of a good Die Hard movie are completely missing here.
First of all, just like in Die Hard 4, Bruce Willis feels way to "clean". Whereas in the first three Die Hard movies he was a broken man, suffering from hangovers and in a seemingly constant pissed-off mood, now, just like in part four, he seems to be just fine and actually in a better shape than when he was during his marriage (before his divorce). How fuckin' come?!

Furthermore, another essential element is that Bruce Willis/John McClane never wanted to get into those dangerous terrorist-situations. Even in Die Hard 3 and 4 the topic of him still keeping fighting the bad guys despite having/wanting nothing to do with it becomes a major plot point.
But now in Die Hard 5, despite wanting to save his son, he just basically begs to be part of the action. Sometimes just standing there and acting like all those terrorist attacks are nothing big to him anymore. He now seems to want to be in those situations and doesn't even greatly question them or inform the proper authorities like the police (remember?...LIKE HE DID IN EVERY OTHER DIE HARD MOVIE?!).

Let's talk about John McClane's son Jack (Jai Courtney).
Though a fairly unknown actor, Jai Courtney sure does look the part as John McClane's son.
Family trouble and drama is next to the terrorist-plot a (supposedly) main theme in Die Hard 5. Sadly, the troubled relationship between John McClane and his son is very weakly presented. Sure, we get that John wasn't there for his son because of him working all the time (?), but the movie seems to make it a habit of rapidly reminding you of that in form of Jack McClane constantly bitching about his father in pretty much every second of his dialogue.
Basically every catchphrase in Die Hard 5 consists either out of a "Junior-" or an "I have no daddy"-joke. The constant bitching and clichee-relationship aside, the son-and-father-relationship development is just as lamely done. All of the differences between the two are basically wiped away right before the final showdown in a very unconvincing dialogue between the father and his son.

Let's have an unconvincing family-talk.

Villains in Die Hard 5 are kept pretty much faceless. Along with the very short exposition of the movie's story, a proper introduction of the movie's villains gets pushed aside, giving the audience just enough to work with to say that they are the "bad guys".
This is pretty sad because some of the villains like the sometimes fairly funny gangster leader Alik (Radivoje Bukvic) could've been a memorable antagonist of the Die Hard franchise. The potential was there.
Among the constant mash of action sequences and annoyingly lame father-son-drama, a good characterization of the antagonists (and protagonists) gets helplessly lost.

But at least the action is good right? Well, yes and no.
Die Hard 5 does indeed have some pretty jawdroppingly good action sequences worthy of the name Die Hard. While mostly keeping the style of action more on a spectacularly big level like in Die Hard 4 (rather than 1 or 2), scenes in between those giant action moments feel like filler.
It results in the audience remembering the movie as four main action sequences and not as a self-contained movie.
Also (as already mentioned) John McClane seems to be scared of nothing anymore, standing right in front of enemies and mowing them down with a machine gun. Aspects of the action like this kill the entire tension that the audience is supposed to feel during the action.
Therefore, most the action scenes in Die Hard 5 feel more like watching somebody play a video game rather than watching a movie, where you actually care if your hero gets hit or not.
The feel of a vulnerable John McClane that we saw in Die Hard 1 and 2 is completely gone.

Technically though, the action is fairly well done. Notably, the car chase scene in the beginning of the movie is pure mayhem and easily the best part of the entire flick among the usual standard-action-fare.
And despite some included CGI here and there, the computer effects mostly don't hurt the action experience.

Get back! Bruce Willis is in God Mode!!!

All in all, Die Hard 5 without a doubt feels more like a sequel to Die Hard 4 than to any of the other entries.
Yet still, despite adapting the spectacular style of Die Hard 4, that's about everything positive they have in common.
Due to a very weak story to back up the action and keep a good flow going, Die Hard 5 feels more like a series of video-gamish action sequences rather than a self-contained, good action movie.
Unconvcing character development along with lazily written characters furthermore top the disappointment.
Die Hard 5 turns out to be another example of a director not knowing why the previous entries worked.
Ignoring essential elements that defined the main protagonist's character and the stories he's been into, Die Hard 5 is nothing more than a series of mostly well done action sequences and a movie that even Die Hard fans can easily skip. 

 

Final Verdict: 2 out of 10 


P.S.: If you want a real Die-Hard-like experience, then check out "The Last Boy Scout" from 1991. That movie does more justice to the Die Hard franchise than Die Hard 4 and 5 combined.


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