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A Good Day to Die Hard(2013)
Since the first Die Hard in 1988, John McClane has found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the skills and attitude to always be the last man standing, making him enemy #1 for terrorists the world over. Now, McClane faces his greatest challenge ever, this time on an international stage, when his estranged son Jack is caught up in the daring prison escape of a rogue Russian leader, and father and son McClane must work together to keep each other alive and keep the world safe for democracy.
For more about A Good Day to Die Hard and the A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray release, see A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on June 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Cole Hauser
Director: John Moore
» See full cast & crew
A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray Review
Die Hard In Name Only
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, June 3, 2013
The now 25-year-old Die Hard series has its ongoing staples—expertly staged action sequences, deranged, Euro-sleazy villains, a smirking Bruce Willis dropping one-liners and busting caps—but what has always made the franchise is its distinct personality and tone. You know a Die Hard movie when you see one. They're fun. They're self-deprecating. They're prime summer popcorn blockbusters, precision engineered for thrill-ride momentum, with lots of wry comedy along the way. The problem with A Good Day to Die Hard—the fifth entry, but probably not the last—is that it feels utterly soulless. Most of the staple Die Hard characteristics are here, but the personality is weirdly gone. Director John Moore (Max Payne) has replaced it with a generic action movie vibe, mixing Bourne-esque shaky cam quick cutting and Bond- like international intrigue. And he does neither of these things particularly well. This is the first Die Hard picture that seems more like one of the series' many imitators—Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, most recently—than the real deal. This is especially disappointing after the franchise was reinvigorated in 2007 with the surprisingly decent Live Free or Die Hard, which set up the promising possibility of a new trilogy just as good as the first three films. Unfortunately, if you replaced Bruce Willis here with, say, Jason Statham or Vin Diesel, you'd have just another run of the mill, B-level action flick with lots of explosions but no heart.
The "no heart" shortcoming is doubly odd because A Good Day to Die Hard is meant to be a family affair, with John McClane shooting his way through Mother Russia with his estranged son, Jack (Jack Reacher's Jai Courtney), patching up their relationship between firefights and helicopter showdowns. The two haven't been on speaking terms for years, apparently, but when John hears that his son is in some sort of dire legal trouble in Moscow, he takes the next flight east. This is the first time in the series that we've seen McClane outside of the good old U.S. of A., but the trouble that always seems to follow him clearly doesn't respect international boarders. Unbeknownst to John, Jack is actually a CIA agent who's been working on putting together evidence to prosecute corrupt official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). Through a number of machinations too obtuse and confusing to even bother relaying here, Jack has been set-up to testify at the trial of political prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a billionaire in possession of a file that could prove Chagarin—his former business partner—has been into some shady dealings. (Stealing uranium, selling nukes, transporting WMDs—you know, the usual post-Cold War Russian chicanery.) Chagarin's henchmen bomb the courthouse, but Jack escapes with Komarov and inevitably runs into his baffled father, who comes along on what amounts to a tedious, multi-stage fetch-quest to find this incriminating file.
As an action movie set-up, this ain't bad. You have the strained father/son dynamic, the fairly unusual Moscow setting—with its Red Menace-y, Cold War holdouts vibe—and, in the hidden file, a MacGuffin that at the very least motivates the characters to get from point A to point B. Where A Good Day to Die Hard goes bad is how it squanders everything compelling about the premise. The dad/son stuff—summed up by competitiveness, mutual wariness, and the "we're not a hugging family" line from the trailer—feels obligatory and underdeveloped. It's less an attempt to explore a previously unseen part of John McClane's personality than it is a means to take some of the burden of carrying the film off of Bruce Willis' tired, too-old- for-this shoulders. Willis just seems sluggish this time around—bored, uninterested—and while Jai Courtney is reasonably believable as McClane's son, his character is really only a foil, with no life or dimension of its own. The same goes for the film's cardboard villains. There are ultimately three of them —each less interesting than the last, revealed through a succession of already-saw-it-coming twists—and collectively, they pale next to the memorable baddies played in the franchise's past by Alan Rickman, William Sadler, and Jeremy Irons. Most of the fault should probably go to writer Skip Woods (The A-Team); not only are his characters dull, but the plot he's created here is simultaneously convoluted and stupidly simple.
The story only serves to advance the action, some of which is impressive, but most of which is merely loud. The film blows its wad fifteen minutes in with a sequence that would be the climax of most movies of this type. The explosion at the courthouse sets off an intense car chase on and over Moscow's main thoroughfares—actually, Budapest doubles here for the Russian capital—with McClane in a Mercedes G-Wagen SUV, Jack and Komorov in a van, and the bad guys trucking along behind them in an armored personnel carrier, smashing through cars left and right. At one point, to get where he needs to be, McClane drives off an overpass and four-wheels it on top of the traffic below. It's ridiculous, but it works in a yeah, John McClane could probably pull this off sort of way. Unfortunately, nothing that comes after this even remotely compares. We get a few routine gunfights, and not one but two sequences that end with McClane and son jumping out of a building in slo-mo to avoid being mowed down by a helicopter's machine guns. It's almost like the filmmakers ran out of ideas. Maybe they did.
Note: The disc includes both the theatrical cut and an extended version, which makes some minor changes to the beginning and end of the film.
A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dark, grainy, moodily color-graded, and all-around more gritty than previous entries, A Good Day to Die Hard has a very distinct visual aesthetic, unlike anything the series has tried before. To what extent it's successful is debatable, but the movie does look fantastic on Blu-ray. Provided, that is, you're not expecting constant razor-edged clarity from the 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. The 35mm film stock used here is very chunky, which inherently cuts down on the perception of detail in some shots. Still, textures and fine lines tend to be strong in closeups, and you never get any sense that the image isn't exactly how it's supposed to look. Organic. Almost palpable. Thick. With no DNR or edge enhancement to ruin the effect. Tonally, the picture often goes for the default orange/blue action movie palette, with occasional forays into sickly, irradiated greens and near-neons. Contrast is tight and punchy, and there are no issues with over-oppressive shadows or blinding, blown-out highlights. No obvious compression problems either. As long as you understand what director John Moore and cinematographer Jonathan Sela were going for, A Good Day to Die Hard makes an impressive high definition showing.
A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray, Audio Quality
One hyphenated and italicized, bolded and underlined word: in-tense. The latest Die Hard is a wonder of intricate action movie sound design, with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. surround track that absolutely slays. Clarity? Sharp and commanding. Dynamics? Hefty, with a room-quaking low end anchoring rounded mids and clean bright highs. Immersion? Near-constant. For theatrical release, the film was mixed using the new Dolby Atmos surround system—which provides for almost unlimited directionality—and the 7.1 home theater mix-down is killer, utilizing the complete soundfield for raucous, involving action sequences. Gunshots blast. Helicopters whir from front to back. Cars squeal between channels, flip and crash, with painful metal-rending noises and the tinkling spray of broken glass. Behind this is Marco Beltrami's equally intense score, which mixes classic Die Hard cues with new arrangements of searing, zig-zagging strings. Somehow, dialogue remains clear and balanced throughout. The disc also includes Spanish and French dubs, a descriptive audio track, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Coming after the well-received Live Free or Die Hard, A Good Day to Die Hard is a big disappointment—a soulless mishmash of generic action movie cliches, with the least memorable villains of the entire series and a plot that amounts to a series of MacGuffins. Are there some cool car chase/shoot-em-up sequences? Sure, but they're strung together with little regard for crafting a coherent, suspenseful story. Plus, Bruce Willis looks like he's constantly on the verge of falling asleep. (John McClane is definitely too old for this shit.) Even as a turn-off-your-brain popcorn movie, A Good Day is only nominally entertaining; we expect more from Die Hard. If it's any consolation, 20th Century Fox has put together a fantastic Blu-ray release—with an hour-long making-of documentary, a great audio commentary, and several other featurettes—which may sway some fans to consider a purchase, if only to complete their Die Hard collections.
A Good Day to Die Hard: Other Editions
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A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: June 4-11 - June 2, 2013
For the week of June 4th, Twentieth Century Fox is bringing A Good Day to Die Hard to Blu-ray. The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise finds the series showing its age, though it's an entertaining diversion for action junkies. Other releases include Anchor ...
• A Good Day to Die Hard Blu-ray - March 26, 2013
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray John Moore's A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), starring Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, and Sebastian Koch. Street date is June 4th.
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