CRASH! BANG! WALLOP! If you’re considering sitting down with A Good Day To Die Hard, you’ll want to get acquainted with those sounds first – this fifth entry in the franchise is loud, daft and in love with Big Movie Explosions™. But then, isn’t that what Die Hard has always been about?
“I’m on fucking vacation,” gripes John McClane (Bruce Willis) midway through AGDTDH. He’s just landed in Moscow in search of wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney), who’s become involved in some kind of political warfare. Before John has a chance to mumble one “yippee-ki-yay”, he’s pinched a jeep and chased Jack down a busy highway, leaving destruction in his wake.
That vacation quip’s a funny one, except it represents everything that’s wrong with AGDTDH. For a start, it’s factually inaccurate. John, of course, isn’t in Russia on holiday – we’re told right from the start that he’s there to rescue Jack from his mess (only to make things even messier). It’s the kind of small-detail cock-up that AGDTDH consistently fudges; it’s not a film interested in details – so much so that we’re barely given an explanation of the villain’s motivations before things start exploding again.
It’s also a gag that’s repeated ad nauseum throughout the film, like so many other repetitive beats (the exploding cars, the smashed windows, the weary one-liners). Still, it’s hard to hate a film so belligerently set to ‘thrill’. That central car chase is a doozy, and whatever you think of director John Moore, he ensures the film looks great – scuzzy, Bourne-like, beautifully lit. If ever there was an example of pure ‘check brain at door’ cinema, AGDTDH is it.
A journo friend called McClane’s latest outing a “rice cake” of a film – there’s absolutely nothing nourishing about it, but you gobble it up anyway. It’s true. AGDTDH isn’t a particularly good action film (though it’s leagues ahead of the woeful Jack Reacher), but this late in the game, McClane still commands such affection that you’ll forgive him his shortcomings. Besides, who wants details when you’ve got John McClane going up against an armed helicopter? 2.5/5