A Good Day to Die Hard has launched the fifth edition of the Bruce Willis Die Hard franchise since the rebel cop first came on our silver screens in 1988. Take a math class and quickly you’ll realise its 25 years of John McClane accidentally getting himself in the way of the bad guys to the delight of action loving cinema goers. This isn’t an American Bond story with class as the underlying character trait. John McClane is a character made up of rough mistakes complimented by ‘plan on the run’ courage. Anyone who remembers the first movie’s walk on broken glass scene will get a feel for the character who takes the bruises and then gives back with interest.
In A Good Day to Die Hard we find John McClane trying to track down his supposed wayward son in order to set him straight with some fatherly advice. As with all action as well as comedy movies, timing is crucial and McClane walks right into an International spy operation headed up by his son at ground zero. The bumbling introduction causes the ripple effect for our story and the Father and Son relationship has to be addressed between cross-fire and car chases. The momentum of the movie is well handled by Director John Moore and despite some obvious CGi scenes it meshes well with the hand to hand combat and a brilliant ad for Landrover when Willis drives a four-wheel drive through and over town.
One of the best characters in this new episode is the location. I’ve loved the number of action movies that have recently started using European backdrops from MI4 being shot in Hungary and the Czech Republic then Taken 2 with scenes in Instanbul, Turkey. Although set in Soviet Russia, the filming locations in Budapest, Hungary give a great deal of character to the movie whether in the larger backdrops, the vacated factory scenes or the upfront motor vehicle chase and destroy scenes.
Die Hard bad guys have taken many forms over the five movies. We loved Alan Rickman in the opening episode’s 1988 villain. He was and will be the benchmark bad guy. 1990 brought us American traitor William Sadler and then the English bad guy returned in 1995 when we teamed up with Samuel L Jackson to fight Jeremy Irons. It was a long break between villains until 2007 when the cyber threat of Timothy Oliphant brought a nerdy and moody villain to the story but we just didn’t feel the evil laugh. For A Good Day to Die Hard it feels like we’re back on track with the European bad guy but it is a movie that managed to plant a few twists in the 98min story line so be careful who you trust.
Bruce Willis of course is back doing what he does well. The smirky grin at the camera, roughed up t-shirt and an older guys swagger are all still intact. For this movie he has to match on screen physique with his son Jack played by Australian Jai Courtney who we had recently reviewed favourably in Jack Reacher. Courtney has youth on the side of his abs and pecks as we’ve already seen in his Spartacus roles so Willis had to work hard to match the nearly 30 year head start in physical prowess. This was always going to be a movie of one liners and both actors don’t disappoint keeping the genre close to action comedy and not a Ben Hur drama in the making.
A Good Day to Die Hard embodies all the reasons we love action movies. The lead characters will bolster their cocky arrogance in rapid one liners. They are known for driving fast cars and rising from near death beatings. However the audience get value for money because they always come back to save the day and often save the world for good measure. Jump on the roller-coaster for a great ride. Its 98mins long with two loops and a bend so don’t expect a tour through the english countryside.
3 out of 5 popcorns for pure action movie fun.
Rating: M for Violence and Offensive Language