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Actor Bruce Willis (left) in the latest Die Hard series. (Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)
Yippee-ki-yai-yay. Bruce Willis once again brought one of the world’s most famous action icons, John McClane, back to life in the famous, action-packed and undying Die Hard franchise.
It’s been 25 years since John McClane stepped into Nakatomi Plaza and take on a group of German terrorists, who threatened to kill hostages in the original Die Hard (1988).
After the disappointment of Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), and the so-so Live Free or Die Hard (2007), John Moore (Behind the Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix) decided to bring the hard-to-kill-hero back to action, and this time, he doesn’t have to die hard alone.
You would have thought that by the fifth installation of the franchise, Bruce Willis’s character would have gone somewhere quieter or quit his job as a detective with the NYPD. The movie should have been called Die Hard: With Pension or Die Hardened Arteries or Died Hard.
But that is not the case. Bruce Willis is back, and he is back with a bigger bang than escaping from an exploding aircraft via an ejector seat, ala Die Hard 2. The action is bigger, louder and leaves enough collateral damage to make the original Die Hard look like a romantic comedy.
After years on the police force, John McClane decides to do a better job as a father by visiting his seemingly wayward son, who he has not been keeping in touch with, and tries to mend their relationship on his “vacation”.
Minutes after arriving in Russia, he is overwhelmed by the difference in culture. Only moments later, he finds himself in an all-too-familiar situation involving terrorists, guns and a whole lot of destruction, making it, indeed, a good day
to die hard.
Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Spartacus: War of the Damned), a new and up-coming Hollywood actor, plays John McClane Jr., who is basically the younger, leaner, but more “professional” version of his father.
Working for the CIA, his mission is to rescue a Russian man who can testify against a corrupt politician in court. Soon after a brutal attack during the trial, father and son inevitably cross paths, but John Jr. was not too happy with his father coming in between him and his mission to stop the terrorists.
The father and son fight together, while Bruce Willis’ character tries to convince his son that they can have a better relationship. There is nothing special about the plot, but it is excusable since it is an action flick.
Russia made a good setting for this orchestra of explosions and destruction. Just a few minutes after the opening credits, the rampage starts with a car chase involving an armored truck that tears through the streets of Moscow, smashing through walls and cars, and making full use of the film’s US$125 million budget.
As John McClane chases after the big truck, he has to dodge oncoming traffic and debris. A fine mess. The leader of the bad guys, played by Russian actor Radivoje Bukvic, proves to be a force to be reckoned with as he leads a group of suit-wearing, machine-gun wielding terrorists on a hunt for the father and son duo.
There are also some classic Die Hard moments, where McClane endures excruciating pain in order to simply stay alive or to simply hurt the enemy, bringing audiences back to the good old Die Hard days when he walked on glass barefoot while dodging bullets.
However, there are also some flaws in this movie. The biggest flaw is probably John Moore’s failure to bring out the chemistry between father and son. Sure this is an action-flick, so it’s wise not to expect serious character development. However, at times the relationship between the McClanes feels forced.
Having two John McClanes means double the carnage, however, it also means that both actors have to share the spotlight. Without a clear-cut main character, the audience isn’t given a chance to get to know John McClane Jr. as much as would be liked, and yet at the same time, moviegoers don’t really see the iconic characteristics of Bruce Willis’ John McClane.
Moreover, the villain of the movie is probably the most unmemorable villain of the whole franchise, compared to Alan Rickman’s character in Die Hard or Timothy Olyphant’s character in Live Free or Die Hard.
Die Hard fans might miss the old John McClane as they take in the latest sequel as his character’s charm seems to be absent at times during the movie.
However, in terms of an action flick, this movie exceeds expectations – brutal gun fights, an incredibly orchestrated car chase and daring moments where father and son jump off buildings.
Just make sure to go into the cinema with the “this is an action movie” state of mind, and you’ll definitely enjoy it. While it is not the best of the Die Hard franchise, it’s definitely an enjoyable addition. Bring on Die Hard 6.
A Good Day to Die Hard
(97 minutes, 20th Century Fox)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Cole Hauser
Director: John Moore
Screenwriter: Skip Woods
Producer: Alex Young
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.