Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action A Good Day To Die Hard

A Good Day To Die Hard

While authors, publishers and movie studios search frantically for the next mass appealing supernatural phenomenon, a la Harry Potter or Twilight, some of our old school action stars from the 80’s are trying to prove that they still have what it takes to draw the general public into theaters too. Only problem is, it hasn’t been working at the box office. The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head, for example, starring Arnold Schwarzeneggrer and Sylvester Stallone respectively, did not do as well as expected. Even Jason Statham’s Parker failed to make a major dent at theaters.

Now it’s Bruce Willis’s turn. And once again he’s returning to what is probably his most popular role, Detective John McClane, who’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time. You just can’t keep a good man down. Russia is the unfortunate venue for John this go round, taking his particular brand of mayhem into the former Soviet Union and doing his awkward best to speak the language.

In A Good Day To Die Hard, McClane wants to seriously patch things up with his estranged son Jack, a sort of reconciliation he apparently accomplished with his daugter Lucy(Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in Live Free or Die Hard. Through one of his friends he finds out that Jack has run into a bit of trouble in Russia. So naturally, John wants to help him out. And his son has no idea he’s coming. Once John sets foot on the streets of Moscow, you know all bets are off.

At 57, going on 58, Bruce Willis is not (with all due respect to them) as weather worn as Arny or Sly. Could be the shaven head that makes the difference. His McClane hasn’t changed one iota, sporting that same kick butt, no detailed plan attitude we all fell in love with during the Nakatomi Tower siege 25 years ago. It’s no wonder we all still root for him as a law enforcing hero- even when he’s on foreign soil.

Jai Courtney’s Jack is sufficient proof that the proverbial acorn has not fallen far from the equally proverbial tree. He’s just like his father, which is probably why they don’t always get along. His involvement with imprisoned Russian national Yuri Komorov whose motives you’ll find totally uncertain, provides a mysterious backdrop not seen in the previous Die Hards.

Naturally there’s enough excitable, sometimes distracting, gun battles, reckless car chases and hand to hand combat to keep you from running to the restroom. Irish born director John Moore definitely knew the franchise he was dealing with, wisely following in the footsteps of previous fellow directors. He and steady cinematographer Jonathan Sela take full advantage of the busy streets of Budapest, Hungary standing in for the Russian capital. And the hard fought climactic third act needed a very special venue- Chernobly.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s reprisal as Lucy is a striking touch, although she appears briefly. She brings a charming continuity to the story, driving her dad to the airport and, in the true McClane tradition, “advises” him on how to handle this delicate situation between him and her brother.

As of this writing, the fifth installment of this popular series has grossed well over 350 million. Much more than those other movies mentioned above. Willis is still, solidly in business as McClane and has already proposed a sixth actioner. And since the story-lines are deliberately following a chronological pattern here, it would make plenty of sense to bring back Bonnie Bedelia to make the next one a real family affair.

 

 

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