— Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs from In the Heat of the Night, 1967
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March 1, 2013
Let me tell you about A Good Day to Die Hard
— Posted by Elliot Hopper
It took a lot to even want to take time to do a write up on this film. And right there that probably speaks volumes to a lot of what I’m about to say, as it generally mirrors the negative reaction A Good Day to Die Hard has already received. Just to make it clear, it was not a good day to die hard. While this movie might say ‘Die Hard’ in its title and star Bruce Willis. It’s not a Die Hard movie and even further it’s not even a good movie.
It has its moments, but those moments much like the film as a whole are segmented. The film in actuality consists of four action sequences and intermissions of weak dialogue in between to marry reason between the characters. In this particular case, John McClane and his estranged son John “Jack” McClane, Jr played by Jai Courtney. Along the way there is a story somewhere in there, which propels the film from start to finish. There might be an inherent cynicism to how I speak about things, but overall it’s really just tiredness. But I’m going to talk about it all regardless and you can sound off below on your thoughts!
You could say that director John McTiernan is the missing factor, but at this point and especially after the showing of Live Free and Die Hard. It’s a wonder why pander to the nostalgia. While the answer is both simple, as well as obvious, it has become about the box office draw and despite the negative criticisms. The fifth installment to the franchise has probably already done enough on the worldwide level to potentially continue on with the sixth and rumored final sequel to the franchise overall. Yes, reportedly back when the fifth film was being conceived, a sixth film was also being discussed.
Perhaps at this point it’s a question of what makes a Die Hard movie. I think the obvious was how John McClane was the ‘everyman’ – the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of that it made his character relatable, having to push through despite the odds and the eventual further motivation when something more personal was at stake. John’s penchant has always been to do the right thing and as the fourth movie puts it “that’s what makes you that guy” in respect to being the hero when no one else is around – while still upholding a level of morality. It’s an honest question and also what made the concept of the films so simple. Throw in an equally interesting villain and it is good versus bad guy.
The fifth film has tons of bad guys and thinks because of this, its reason enough for John to fly all the way to Russia to kill them all. Never mind the fact he’s in a whole different country, under a completely different jurisdiction, it’s cool because John McClane can wield a gun, shoot away, because he’s done it before. But not before he’s commandeered vehicles to help facilitate in what was probably the greatest display of vehicular manslaughter and public destruction I’ve ever witnessed on screen. Oh and don’t forget about the civilians, but driving over the cars whilst saying ‘sorry’, that’s cool too. However, again he’s there to rescue his son. Because despite the years of absenteeism, it’s time to be a father and make a fifth Die Hard movie.
For the record, the opening chase sequence cost a reported $11 million dollars and took three months to film. It also takes up one-third of the entire movie. This among many other things is a part of the problem. It is no coincidence and even with the fourth film, Die Hard has always required an appropriate run time. A Good Day to Die Hard has a total runtime of 97 minutes. When I first heard this, it held a sincere level of skepticism, as every Die Hard before this have run longer than 2 hours each. And it’s not to carry the level of action out, the films have always used the duration to characterize the cast accordingly, re-situate John, establish a worthwhile villain and give credence to a storyline. I think A Good Day to Die Hard actually had that potential, it returned closer to its roots with the level of gratuitous 80’s-esque violence, but somewhere along the way they forgot to film the rest of the movie. As it was clearly missing 30 extra minutes of something – something more, something else, just something which would give this film more sense.
To get into the spoilers of the film, did anyone else find it odd that the ‘twist’ villain made no sense at all? I mean Sebastain Koch’s character Yuri Komarov was in fact after himself. The film presents inherent bad guys chasing after him, trying to capture him, but said bad guys were in fact actually under his employment. Unless there was a separate group of bad guys that were waiting for the other bad guys to succeed and then take out those bad guys because the other bad guys were badder. That realistically was the storyline, but it’s cool because at the end of it John and his son are the good guys and they’ll get the bad guys “because that’s what we do”. Yes, ladies and gentlemen that actual piece of dialogue happens in the film. Where John and Jack/John, Jr. discuss if they’re going to quit and go home or go kill the bad guys.
The last time I heard “because that’s what we do” uttered in that manner was by Ice Cube in Ghosts of Mars (2001). As cheesy as that line is and was back in 2001, it’s 2013. And I wasn’t watching Ghosts of Mars, so that one time exemption of “because that’s what we do” already passed over a decade ago.
Much like a lot of others, I’m a big fan of the franchise. Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder are my de-facto Christmas movies to this day. So it’s a real wonder was there anything more to what was presented in A Good Day to Die Hard. If a real extended cut does come out, I’d be curious to check it out. But as it stands right now I know this probably all sound cynical, but irrespective of why a film is made. It’s a bonafide question even more so why sequels are made, especially when Hollywood has no shame in rebooting anything and everything on whim. But perhaps that’s the answer right there and expectations should be shelved.
I will say I’ll still keep my eye out for Jai Courtney, I don’t think this film gave him a fair shake. It positioned him well enough to keep going, as the Die Hard franchise is still very much high profile. I’ve followed him since his role as Varro in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. And if you’ve seen Jack Reacher, he does a decent job as a villain. For Willis, it’ll be more of the same. I don’t classify him as a second-wind actor, because he simply knows his niche. So I’ll watch G.I. Joe: Retaliation knowing he’s in it, I’ll watch R.E.D 2 and if and when there is a Die Hard 6. I’ll have a stern eye on it.
The last final note I have, is I’ve always thought it was funny how John McClane’s level of deep shit he’s in could be summarized by the state of his wardrobe from the start of a movie to the finish. He might need new clothes, but yes Mr. ‘Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker’ has survived, even if this particular installment to the franchise isn’t worthy of that moniker.
For the sake of rating, 3 out of 10.
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