Saturday, December 21, 2013

Die Hard Five: Worst Film of the Year. Thanks for the Memories.

Movie Review: A Good Day To Die Hard

Director: John Moore

Reviewed: 17 December 2013

jamesintexas rating-- Zero Stars

I have lived my life by the Die Hard franchise. I saw Die Hard one night in a double feature billing with Ferris Bueller's Day Off at my cousin Christopher's house in the late 80's, transfixed by its language, violence, charismatic lead performance, and uber-confident villainy. I cut ads out of Premiere magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times when Die Hard 2: Die Harder was announced, and I saved my dollars from my summer job selling programs at Santa Fe Speedway Race Track in Chicago to purchase the double-film VHS set in the early 1990's. I watched these films over and over again, quoting them endlessly to my friends and teammates. At the IHSA State Track Meet my junior year, we watched Die Hard With A Vengeance, not as good as film as the previous two, but the character was still recognizable, Samuel L. Jackson was fun, the riddles and running all over New York City was captivating, and the film still worked. And then later in life, seven years after college, as a teacher now, I saw Live Free or Die Hard, a pale imitator of the original film, but one that gamely tried to inject life into the lead character John McLane by bouncing him off of Kevin Smith's hacker and Justin Long's cybernerd. The plot was terrorism within the US, and McLane's daughter Lucy was involved. I forgave that film many of its trespasses, but I acknowledged it as the weakest link.

Until now.

John Moore's A Good Day To Die Hard takes the beloved, iconic character of John McLane and completely guts it. Eviscerates it. Removes the heart and soul and humor of it. Bruce Willis is squarely to blame for this travesty as well. He provides the only through line of the five film franchise with all different directors and writers. The film is completely superfluous and involves McLane traveling to Moscow to rescue his son. The film tries to present McLane as charming and funny, but instead he becomes completely unlikable. The film cribs from the other films (Look, here's a person taking a dive off of a building! Look, here's a helicopter to crash! Look, here's a few notes from Michael Kamen's iconic score to remind you of the movie that you wish you were watching!). A plot involves the CIA, informers in a Moscow prison, corrupt politicians, and numerous rooftop gunfights.

And that's just it. Midway through this film, I wanted to turn it off and watch Die Hard. Bruce Willis has allowed his franchise to dribble away to nothing, and the director seems to only be awake when having giant trucks barrel into each other nonsensically on busy city streets. Forgettable villains, a cast unable to do anything of note led by Jai Courtney as McLane's son, but really the blame rests on Bruce Willis's shoulders.

Bruce Willis is the character, and this film makes me wish that John McLane had died in one of the previous films. So, like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg did with Star Wars and Indiana Jones, another iconic film franchise finds its latest installment to be a disaster that mars the legacy of the fine films that came before it. Let's hope that the Die Hard franchise is truly dead.

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