“A Good Day To Die Hard” Movie Review

     John McClane's fifth time around in "A Good Day To Die Hard" is nothing to write home about, yet since I feel compelled to do so, I will anyway.  The last time director John Moore had a gig, he was helming the video game adaptation "Max Payne" which itself was an atrocity.  Here he teams up with screenwriter Skip Woods ("A Team") and comes up with the tag line "Yippy Ki-Yay Mother Russia" as the premise has McClane heading to Russia.  If this sounds lame, that's because it is.  I have to say there really isn't anything along the lines of false advertising here. If you saw the film's trailer, filled with wall to wall action, explosions, and violence, than you should know what you're getting into.  Moore has essentially strung together three or four action set pieces with a hollow story and virtually no characterization. 

     We already know John McClane, who can be played with his eyes closed now by Bruce Willis, but what about everyone else.  What really makes the "Die Hard" series watchable is the consistent presence of a worthy adversary for McClane.  Someone who will give McClane the requisite workout that pushes him to his limits, creating real pressure and tension, as well as the extraordinary circumstances the franchise is famous for.  If you can believe it, there really is no stand out villain in this film.  What we get is a few background characters who double cross each other and eventually reveal themselves as the bad guy, but no one really presses McClane.  Woods script instead tries to create a rift between McClane and his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), and this is what replaces the classic banter between McClane and the villains in the previous films.  At best, this strategy only pays off with limited results.

     When the story begins, McClane finds out his son has been arrested in Russia and is awaiting trial.  Oddly, he gains this information from one of his co-workers in the NYPD who apparently has access to far reaching intelligence of this kind.  Even though he hasn't spoken to his son in years, he decides to fly to Russia for support I guess.  I mean, what is McClane thinking he is going to do when he gets there?  Within a short time of arrival, McClane finds himself as witness to a massive prison break and then involved in a never ending car chase with his son and Russian mobsters.  Of course the police are no where to be found as an armored vehicle causes destruction and havoc on busy Russian freeways and roads in pursuit of Jack and another mysterious character who Jack seems to be protecting.  McClane doesn't know what's going on, but intervenes at the site of some goon apparently trying to pick a fight with his kid.

     Minutes after the first action sequence is over, the writers allow for a scene in which Jack tells his father he works for the CIA and from there the two bicker in your typical father and son manner.  There's no time to be sentimental though because the audience isn't here for a story, they're here for action and thus Jack and McClane head to another location with the guy Jack is protecting to look for a hidden key.  This is merely set up for another shoot out, but not before one of the bad guys tries to be tough in front of a captured Jack and McClane by munching on a carrot stick and dancing....yes...dancing.  It's one of those truly head scratching moments in a film where you wonder why this film was made in the first place. I could go further into the plot description, but at this point I don't see merit in doing so.  This entire film was a bad idea from the start. Moore shows he is more than capable of constructing entertaining action sequences, but there's no hint of the magic that comes from a compelling story to go with it.

     Ironically, prior to the screening, the trailer for "Olympus Has Fallen" played and it got me thinking.  With two films coming out this year featuring a plot centered around a good guy with skills trapped in the White House after it is taken over by terrorists, why didn't anyone think about one of them being "Die Hard 5" instead?  Think of it.  McClane is getting an award from the President for his heroics in the previous four films and then suddenly the White House is attacked, leaving McClane in position to save the day once again!  Believe me when I tell you, there is more substance in that idea than is contained in the entire running time of "A Good Day To Die Hard".  Do not fear though.  People are still paying in mass to see this film, which can only mean "Die Hard 6" is already brewing in the minds of studio executives.  Next time I hope they put a little more thought into it and give the proper due to an iconic film character who should never be placed in such a run of the mill film as he has here. Joey and Chandler wouldn’t be happy.  GRADE: D+