A Good Day To Die Hard
In cinemas now
“Yippee ki-yay Mother Russia” It’s a good tagline: it’s just not got much of a movie to go with it. Bruce is back in the vest and heading over to Russia, where his son (Jai Courtney) is involved in a CIA plot to rescue a government whistleblower (Sebastian Koch). Things soon go tits up, and Willis and Son find themselves racing across Eastern Europe to retrieve some tasty secrets.
This being a Die Hard, of course, nothing’s that simple. Neither, in this case, is it that clear. Gone are the clever feints of the original, to be replaced by twists that feel obligatory and make a nonsense of everything that’s gone before. Not that what had gone before made a lot of sense anyway.
It’s interesting that the Russians have swung around to being the Hollywood default for bad guys again, but this isn’t a film that’s interested in the changes their country has seen in the past 20 years. It’s just full of cool and scary names the writers sorta recognise from a dozen other trashy flicks. The screenplay’s got low-grade photocopy all over it, and it’s grasp of nuclear physics makes Dan Brown look like Robert Oppenheimer.
Willis’s relationship with his son is a retread of his relationship with his daughter from the last movie – and a barely developed one at that. Plenty of franchises end up bastardising their first entry, but few rip off an already shit sequel. There might be a character arc there if you squint (let’s lay some chips down now that Die Hard 6 will see Willis going after his ex-wife), but the film won’t thank you for spotting it. It’ll barely thank you for being present.
Even if you can be bothered to concentrate, frenetic camerawork and cuts every millisecond make it difficult to follow. In an early set piece, trucks and armoured cars barge their way through the Moscow traffic, but it’s all spectacle and no elegance. It’s like watching someone playing Grand Theft Auto badly.
It’s also a humourless affair. There’s nothing like the endlessly quotable lines from the original. Instead, we’re thrown the sort of crap flippancy that wouldn’t raise a laugh in a footballer player’s locker room. Willis remembers these films were once funny, but has dialled his archness up to a point of intolerable smugness. He’s not just someone’s dad; he’s someone’s incredibly annoying dad.
A Good Day to Die Hard is ridiculous, but so rough around the edges it doesn’t even qualify as mindless fun. It can’t be bothered to engage with its own narrative and instead looks like an accountancy spreadsheet flickering past at 24 frames per second. The next instalment’s already in the pipeline: let’s hope they get the marketing guy to write the script.