Hollywood has milked the cash cow to the very last drop. Bruce Willis’ famed franchise is now sagging as badly as his face. Prepare for the pounding pain of Under Siege 3, a film that is being released in theaters as A Good Day To Die Hard. The fact that the presence of Steven Segal could have improved the movie makes one want to throw screenwriter Skip Woods out of a high rise window in slow motion.
Coming off the dumb yet surprisingly fun Die Hard 4.0 five years ago, A Good Day to Die Hard undoes all the feverish fanboy style hard work put in the previous installment. While parts two, three and four satisfied even the die hardest of fans the new movie directed by John Moore is awful in every possible way. Moore previously directed the horrendous Flight of the Phoenix, the Omen remake and the terrible Max Payne, the mystery of how the studios were convinced to give Moore the keys to the Die Hard franchise will probably be the plot of Die Hard 6. Incidentally, all the previous installments were intended to be other films (Die Hard 1 was supposed to be Predator 2), and it is possible that the movies turned out to be entertaining quite by accident. So when a filmmaker deliberately went about making a Die Hard movie, he somehow failed spectacularly.
Even Abbas-Mustan could have come up with a more imaginative plot – John McClane’s estranged son deliberately gets himself imprisoned in Russia for a mass breakout, has his mission jeopardized when John himself shows up in Moscow in front of his car and uncovers a conspiracy that connects with the Chernobyl incident. It boggles the mind that this story comes from the 43-year-old writer Skip Woods instead of a 10-year-old with a bunch of action figures in his playroom. One can smell the moldy lack of creativity oozing through the screen every time the film focuses on McClaine’s son, knowing that the previous movie was about his daughter. Woods has previously been responsible for such gems as Swordfish, Hitman and Wolverine and one is convinced that he has already penned the next Die Hard movie, which sends John McClaine to space to rescue his astronaut nephew from interplanetary terrorists who want to burn NYC with a laser beam.
The least one expects in an action movie are enjoyable action scenes, and not only does the film refuse to offer those, but John Moore’s direction gives the impression of someone who endlessly bores you just because he can. Woods and Moore even fail at paying homage to the previous films – there are numerous one liners that hark back to the first three movies, and someone even falls off a window in slow motion. Unfortunately all of these scenes involve Jai Courtney, who plays Jr McClaine with the subtlety and charm of an iron table being dragged against marble floors. The man is hopelessly uncharismatic not just as an actor but as a living organism in general. The original Die Hard owes its cult fame not to Bruce Willis but to the sophisticated, charismatic Alan Rickman whose Hans Gruber still consistently appears at the top of the Best Villains of All Time lists on the internet. In A Good Day to Die Hard the villains are as threatening as Crime Master Gogo – one of the bad guys constantly eats a carrot and even dances a jig for five whole minutes – it seems like the whole movie was a sadistic experiment to destroy a lucrative franchise as shamelessly as possible. As for Bruce Willis, he has obviously lost interest in the series, and one hopes the sequel to Red turns out to be as fun as the original.
(First published in MiD Day)