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A Good Day to Die Hard
Genre Action
 
Review:

"Bruce Willis is Dead!" It's the title of a Brothers Streep song, but judging from his last (and possibly last ever) Die Hard performance - he's ready to leave the terrorist-infested building. In an ironic and unintentional move, Willis reprises his role in The Sixth Sense by being dead from the get-go. There's only so much life we can squeeze out of our favourite '80s action icons, first launching them as action figurines from rooftops with makeshift parachutes as kids and then forcing studios to play them into the ground, even if Sly Stallone can "Space Cowboy" his action man team into doing The Expendables 3.

Rocky was able to generate a spill of sequels and Die Hard has been taking notes, trying to enter the realm of James Bond by initiating "Operation Son of Die Hard" in A Good Day to Die Hard. There's a tongue-in-cheek joke amidst the barrage of invisible bullets, as a real Captain America, goes global on bad guys. Although director, John Moore, isn't in on the joke and neither are the actors, who seem to keep-on-keepin'-on like star-spangled, Energizer-powered G.I. Joes.

It's an obvious reinvention experiment, immersing John McClane's Bourne identity son into the picture as a die hard apprentice and special agent upgrade to reinvigorate the next generation of Die Hard fans. Unfortunately, it's uninspired. Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher), a Tom Hardy substitute, has the calm like a bomb swagger of a Bourne hero... but he's no John McClane. He doesn't have the natural charisma of Willis and the twinkle in the eye that makes every enemy's untimely death that much more acceptable.

While A Good Day to Die Hard has the car chases, explosions and special effects to match Die Hard 4.0, setting it in Moscow, makes it feel like they airdropped John McClane into a rejected 007 script. The film has an electrifying pace, probably an attempt to disguise the lack of verve, characterisation and plot from Skip Woods (Hitman). This keeps the action eye candy in full view, but simply relying on the Die Hard legacy for depth, is just not good enough. A Good Day to Die Hard skims along the surface, throwing in second-rate wit and dithering, slightly forced father-son chemistry.

Without the resistance of a prime evil villain, it's a case of going through the motions as the tag team find their bearings and learn (quite surprisingly) that two is better than one. This movie could have been so much more, but it's as if Willis has already handed over the reins to Courtenay. While the action intensity, special effects and carnage go a long way in terms of satisfying the undemanding viewer, there's not enough intellectual material or buddy comedy to sustain the contrived John McClane on vacation plot.

If punting a second-rate script wasn't enough, A Good Day to Die Hard is basically a feature length Mercedes Benz advert. The car manufacturer must have been a primary investor, showcasing a range of tough utility, 4x4 and truck vehicles. The entire car chase is comprised of Mercs smashing into other vehicles with Mercs being chased by... more Mercs. They're obviously trying to be more rugged by aligning with Die Hard with this product placement. It's so obvious that the DVD/Blu-ray release will probably come with a 'Spot the Merc Symbol' drinking game.

A Good Day to Die Hard is a disappointment. Bruce Willis is a displaced sliver of the John McClane we know and love, the setting is uninspired Bond, the casting is too Bourne-orientated and the script has the depth and wit of an inflatable kiddies pool... in its box. The product placement is obvious and distracting, leaving a husk of impressive stunt work and explosive effects in its wake. Leave your brain at home for maximum enjoyment.

 

The bottom line: "Straight-to-video"


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