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A Good Day to Die Hard

2013 | 98 min | R | 1.85:1

A Good Day to Die Hard


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User reviews

5 user reviews

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 14 February, 2013
 14 February, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

IMAX, 97 minutes

Box office




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Screenshots from A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray

A Good Day to Die Hard Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 13, 2013

With 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard,” the once venerable franchise hit a shocking creative low, thwacked with a bout of amnesia that prevented the picture from recalling what made the previous three installments of the series so special to action film fans. It didn’t walk and talk like a “Die Hard” production, generating immense disappointment after waiting 12 long years for the return of iconic screen cowboy, John McClane. Turns out, the worst was yet to come, with “A Good Day to Die Hard” effectively killing off the brand name with an asinine, immobile feature that’s dripping with trendy cinematography and toxic banter, while a visibly bored Bruce Willis hobbles through this dud, putting in the least amount of effort possible. “A Good Day to Die Hard” isn’t just a lousy movie, it’s the cement shoes on a once amazing collection of movies.

Fearing his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), has fallen into serious trouble that he can’t get out of, John McClane (Bruce Willis) flies to Russia to collect his boy and assess the damage. Stumbling onto an elaborate assassination attempt involving Jack and his cargo, political prisoner Komarov (Sebastian Koch), John slips into action hero mode, thwarting disaster. As the estranged father and son reconnect, Jack reveals his history as a C.I.A. agent, working to take down corrupt Russian official Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov) with a secret file in Komarov’s possession. Sensing trouble ahead, John supports Jack as he carries out his mission, helping his son out of scrapes orchestrated by Chagarin’s top enforcer, Alik (Radivoje Bukvic), while dealing carefully with Komarov’s daughter, Irina (Yuliya Snigir). Looking to pull off a simple plan of escape, John and Jack instead face increasing hostility from outside forces, putting the old McClane survival instincts to the ultimate test.

John Moore is the director for “A Good Day to Die Hard,” which is a stunning choice for the studio, considering the man’s documented history with abysmal filmmaking, found in such efforts as “Behind Enemy Lines,” “The Omen” remake, “Max Payne,” and the “Flight of the Phoenix” remake. Moore imagines himself a Michael Bay protégé, mimicking the helmer’s taste in irradiated colors, tireless shaky-cam, and general screen chaos. There’s no artistry to Moore’s work, he’s simply a factory employee who knows how to work a punch press, and his take on the world of “Die Hard” is dispiriting and borderline offensive. In fact, I doubt Moore has even seen a “Die Hard” picture, as much of the finished product looks like a work of someone who was hastily briefed on series particulars before cameras rolled, instructed to keep the explosions coming, toss in a superfluous “Yippee kai-yay” somewhere in the climax, and only wake Willis when it was absolutely necessary.

It’s a leaden piece of work from a tuneless director, with most of the action sequences fighting a crippling sense of disorientation, as basic spatial relationships are tossed to the four winds in the name of excess. Clarity isn’t helped with the zoom-happy, earthquake cinematography, which attempts to sell artificial intensity, as opposed to the real stuff that served the first three movies so well. “A Good Day to Die Hard” looks uncomfortable and, at times, ugly, with Moore attempting to burn his brand into the franchise by making it look like every other banal actioner on the market. “Die Hard” used to set trends, now it’s chasing after them, often in ridiculous slo-mo.

Also crippling the effort is the lack of a decent villain. Trying to wind in a few twists along the way, screenwriter Skip Woods hopes to outwit the audience by refusing to spotlight a proper antagonist until the final reel. It’s a mistake that comes to paralyze the viewing experience, with three different bad guys gunning for the McClanes, diluting concentration on evil acts that deserve the “Yippee kai-yay” treatment. “A Good Day to Die Hard” is essentially about the hunt for Komarov’s secret file, but it’s such an uninteresting quest, slowing the movie to a stop anytime it’s brought up in conversation. The feature is too thin (running just over 90 minutes) to support a grand design of Russian treachery and country-crossing adventures, eventually reaching an insipid climax that’s completely devoid of stakes. Moore has zero storytelling ability, and he manages to make the mangled conclusion of “Die Hard with a Vengeance” look like the end of “Chinatown” with his careless scattergun approach.

“A Good Day to Die Hard” pursues more of a family mood, with Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) popping in for a brief cameo, while the majority of the script is concerned with the fractured relationship between John and Jack. Sharing little chemistry, Willis and Courtney make for an iffy father and son, trying to pull an entire history out of thin air, settling on a few scenes of stunted apologies and “atta boy” words of encouragement as the younger McClane figures out the best course of action. Fans might be a little perturbed to learn that Willis takes more of a supporting role in the sequel, backing up Courtney with limp one-liners and a palpable disinterest in the work. Part of the fun of these features is watching John wear down to nothing, battered to a point of insanity as he violently sets out on a final assault. Here, Willis barely puts in the effort, perfectly content to let Courtney lead the way, possibly taking over the series in the near future. Willis just doesn’t have the fight in him anymore.

Cursed with middling CGI (major stunt work resembles a video game) and a maddening lack of momentum, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is a painful miscarriage of a movie. It’s a clueless, joyless slog though idiotic filmmaking and dead-eyed paycheck-cashing, unfit to wear the brand name. It’s a heartbreaker, though one that isn’t exactly a shock to the system.

R.I.P. “Die Hard” franchise (1988-1995). We’ll always have Nakatomi Plaza.

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Cole Hauser, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir
Director: John Moore

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A Good Day to Die Hard, Forum Discussions

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A Good Day to Die Hard 1622 May 16, 2013

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