Bruce Willis goes through the Die Hard motions
I have no problem admitting that I dig Bruce Willis. He’s one of the few A-listers working in Hollywood who will tempt me to watch a movie just because he’s in it. It also helps that he has an odd track record of dropping in just for the hell of it to add a li’l cachet to some very random projects.
But Willis’ name on the marquee is kind of a crapshoot. There are also those movies where you have a dead-eyed Willis seemingly looking past the camera at his agent snapping the check. A Good Day to Die Hard is one of those movies, where Willis copping the “I’m getting too old for this shit” line would’ve been clever in comparison. This fifth entry in the increasingly flaccid Die Hard franchise is obviously just a cash grab from top to bottom.
It’s too bad, considering that 25 years ago the first entry changed the way Hollywood looked at action movies. Willis’ John McClane was an everyman hero who rendered obsolete the muscle-bound cartoons who had ruled the action genre up to that time, a regular Joe who bled when he walked barefoot through broken glass and relied more on a weary cleverness than brute force. Unfortunately, the Willis/McClane of A Good Day to Die Hard is nothing but a sad-eyed parody of himself in a generic actioner, indistinguishable from any other thriller squeezed through the multiplex bowels. And the worst thing is that today’s McClane has devolved to become the type of indestructible Wiley E. cartoon character from which the first movie had originally steered away.
A Good Day hits the bullet points of the franchise without really putting much creative thought into it, with the most attention probably being paid to where to drop McClane’s infamous catchphrase. And unlike other entries, there’s no solid villain to hiss at. Here we have a handful of international faces with such odd quirks as tap dancing and chewing carrots, but no real grounding in true villainy. There’s no Timothy Olyphant to be found here, let alone an Alan Rickman for Willis to play off.
The film’s narrative nonsense has McClane dropped into Moscow to pull his wayward son’s (Jai Courtney) bacon out of the fire. And the McClane way of family bonding is blowing shit up, so lots of shit gets blown up. It’s nothing more or less than two hours of a constant barrage of noisy CGI images held together by a hodgepodge of action tropes assembled by committee, aping the Bourne montage aesthetic without really grasping what makes it work.
Willis’ presence alone keeps this from being a complete waste of time (well, other than the constant mayhem shtick poking the lizard brain), but there’s really nothing else of any value to hang your matinee buck on. Now is a good day to just let this franchise die already.