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Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

It would be a good day to call the food standards agency, because this dead horse has been flogged enough times to pass as beef. Alfie Packham reviews.

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die-hard-5_reviewDirector: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Length: 98 minutes

Before John Moore and co. could begin showing us new ways to break a helicopter using Bruce Willis, they faced a glaring problem in the production of the fifth Die Hard instalment. This was of course the fact that the fifth film of any franchise has never been good, ever. Apparently, their agreed solution was to write "A Good Day to..." in front of the title and start filming.

We reunite with John McClane (Willis) on holiday to Moscow, where he checks on his unruly sprog Jack (Courtney) who has a run-in with Russian police. A relationship between neglectful father and criminal son might have set Die Hard 5 apart from other generic actioners, but this little spark of potential is promptly extinguished as we find that Jack is in fact "doing spy shit" for the CIA. Wooden father-son bonding and monotonous shoot-outs inevitably ensue.

At best, Willis is visibly uncomfortable in his reprisal of a once iconic action role. At worst, he looks like an aging tourist stumbling on set - either in self-parody or genuine confusion - shouting "I'm on vacation!" while under heavy machine gun fire. But since real-world Willis is 57 years old, you can't fault A Good Day... for being ageist. Nope, sexist or xenophobic would be far more accurate descriptions.

Despite the film's supposed focus on family, McClane's daughter Lucy (Winstead) is excluded from most of the movie. Although this makes her better off than the cinema audience, it seems that the inclusion of a woman in an action scene would be one step too far in a film where plate glass is considered a soft landing. Meanwhile, John McClane punches a Russian man in the face because he doesn't understand Russian.

As for the people doing all the dying throughout Die Hard 5, well, who cares who they are? Certainly not the McClanes, as they struggle to decide whether to name them "scumbags" or the "bad guys". Any sense of threat posed by the villains is epitomized by a showdown with their leader, who tap-dances whilst loudly chewing a carrot in a half-hearted attempt at being frightening.

In essence, A Good Day to Die Hard is gratuitous explosion porn punctuated by very forced hugs and witless banter - and action films are moving on from this. If there was any hope for Die Hard 6 (yes, they are making another one), it would be that the old dog would at least try learning some new tricks.

For the final act, John and Jack cover over 400 miles in a car from Moscow to Chernobyl in what seems to be a few minutes. Let's just take this as a metaphor for the distance that Die Hard 5 is from the 1988 original.

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3 Comment

Seamus McQuaid Posted on Thursday 1 Oct 2020

Review - A good day to Die Hard

Bearded Russian (Nijinsky that what John McClane calls him later) is playing chess in a glass cell, obviously very intellectual, well he is playing chess on his own, is threatened by another Russian in a really smart suit. Young tough looking Russian or so you think, goes into night club, shots and wounds this guy who is a friend of the Intellect. He gets caught and does a deal with dodgy looking secret service Russian guy, the one you think is Russian. He ends up on same trail as the Intellect, in the meantime John McClane has a very detailed conversion with a guy from the FBI after shooting load of bullets into paper. Turns out the Russian guy who shoots the Intellect's friend is his son Jack McClane and they don't get on.

So off we go Moscow, lots of tension as people who look dangerous talk over various devices and cars are checked for bombs. Court room blows up and John can't believe it happens again where ever he goes there is trouble. His son escapes with Intellect, and just as he tries to get away John is there in front of his getaway van. "Hey why don't you write" and that type of thing which causes a problem for him, as he is secretly working for CIA and is not a Russian hood (didn't see that coming). Nasty people are really shooting a lot of bullets at then by the way, but John wants to talk, by the way who is you friend (the Russian Intellect).

Then a fantastic car chase through Moscow, cars and a good bit of the city motorway infrastructure are really damaged. Innocent Russian city drivers having the crap knocked out of them by this massive armoured truck. One guy had only popped out to get some fags. Then John gets up and shouts at the evil guy who has been chasing him and his son separately in the massive armoured truck, and teases him (not really called for). Son has a change of heart and goes back to help John get out of car he has totalled and after he has been rude to evil Russian gun man.

They now run to the safe house which the evil people know about and shoot it all up. They all manage to escape and get the Intellect to meet up with daughter in an empty classy restaurant but it's a trap, she double crosses her dad, the Intellect. The evil guy that John Mclean was rude to gets his own back on him by doing some dancing and hits John and his son. They get out of this, don't want to spoil it by telling you, and suffice to say it keeps you on a knife edge. Lots of glass falling as well. Then they jump out of a building and slide down the shute that builders use to throw rubble down, that's looks like fun (I could see that as a ride at one of the Disney parks). Luckily missing shots being fired from a helicopter, God the tension!

Then there is great line of dialogue, o yeah there is dialogue as well, John gets Chernobyl mixed up with Grenoble in Switzerland, deliberately, makes Jack (John's son) smile, but he really wants to laugh. You know how dads can sometime just be so silly and crazy.

They all turn up at Grenbolbe sorry Chernobyl, it was just a cracking line, can't seem to let it go. John and Jack aren't worried about radiation, whilst the evil people are all dolled up in protective clothing, really sissies. Turns out the daughter and the Intellect have a triple bluff and have been working together all the time, and he is also evil, God you just don't know who to trust. Anyway big shot up everyone dies except John and Jack, and those words you have been waiting for throughout the film are finally uttered by Jack "Dad, wherefore art thou", they just fell into an old swimming pool. You see he keeps calling him John throughout the movie which is very disrespectful to your father, especially if his name isn't John, you could confuse your dad with things like that.

Final scene they land at a small airport and John's daughter there to meet him and Jack can't hear what they say, but I imagine it is very deep and meaningful. About the times he regrets killing scum bags but making the world safer, probably best if we didn't hear this dialogue because it would just have become to wordy like Lincoln.


Maestro Posted on Thursday 1 Oct 2020

Grenoble isn't in Switzerland, it's in France.


Doug Fischer Posted on Thursday 1 Oct 2020

I loved A Good Day to Die Hard. It did seam to fly by being the shortest of the five films and can't wait for number 6. I have seen it in theatres twice and probably a few more times awesome movie absolutely loved it.


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