Thursday, February 14, 2013
A Good Day to Die Hard
I do not own the above image. For entertainment purposes only. Copyright Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.
In the film world, there are certain characters that are sacred. If Family Feud did a survey on the subject, the top answers would probably be Indiana Jones, Han Solo & Rocky Balboa. If the board showed six or seven answers, John McClain would be up there. The New York cop first entered the pop culture lexicon in the summer of 1988 with DIE HARD, based on a novel by Roderick Thorp with the screenplay by two masters of the craft, Jeb Stuart & Steven E. de Souza. Since then, three sequels have met various degrees of success. Almost 25 years later, director John Moore and screenwriter Skip Woods bring the world A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. I bring these names to you only to offer them as a sacrifice to the movie gods for the butchering of a sacred character.
John McClain’s son, Jack (Jai Courtney), is in trouble with the Russians. As John arrives, Jack arrives at a courthouse, along with another more important prisoner, Komarov. Meanwhile, a crime syndicate blows a giant hole in the side of the courthouse to kidnap Komarov, who escapes with the help of Jack. Is John McClain…
I am just going to cut to the chase: Bruce Willis does not play John McClain. Bruce Willis plays some guy who stands by while standard action happens and, in the words of Roger Ebert, “stuff blows up real good”. And Willis’ character just happens to be named John McClain. Someone should sue. Maybe I should.
Moore & Woods should be banished from Hollywood. They have created a movie that has made an iconic action hero feel worthless and old. The world passes him by, even though the enemies (three of them, none of them remotely memorable) are Russian and the climax takes place at Chernobyl (yes, that Chernobyl). This movie feels like it is one of the rejected drafts of the original DIE HARD. There is a car chase scene that is so poorly shot & edited, you sometimes wonder if they are on the same road sometimes and are amazed when they are. And some people, mostly “McClain”, survive falls and escapes that defy Wile E. Coyote physics.
All was not lost: the final ten minutes are ridiculous fun with some vintage McClain. Too bad the first 85 minutes are a mess. A total and complete mess.