A Good Day to Die Hard ** (out of five)
You know you’re in trouble when an action film opens in Moscow showing a Russian criminal being held prisoner in a cell playing chess by himself. This is the kind of obvious cheesy badly scripted trope A Good Day to Die Hard is rampantly infected with. Next we see Bruce Willis as John McLane at a shooting range… of course. The terribly scripted dialogue between him and a random (black, of course, since there will be no other black people for the next ninety minutes) fellow cop lets us know that his grown up son is in trouble in Moscow. McLane buys a ticket to that city, launching a desperately sad plot; he goes to save his son, but really? The beginning of this film is incredibly slow for an action film which leaves us with dread despair. The last Die Hard was terrible – but will this one be even worse?
Luckily it’s not. Once McLane gets to Moscow – after an intensely long dialogue scene between him and his otherwise unimportant daughter – things start to happen, which is to say, shit starts to get shot at, blown up, crumpled and dead. We get what must be one of the most expensive car chases in history; if you enjoy seeing cars getting destroyed in Moscow, then this, without a doubt, is the movie for you. It’s about 20 minutes long and at one point I thought that that’s what this movie was going to be for the rest of it: just one long car smashing marathon, a Moscow Meltdown.
But of course we need other action and we get it: gunplay, run play and some pretty ordinary byplay between McClane and his grown-up son (played ably by Australian Jai Courtney). John Moore directs the film with extraordinary craftsmanship and great technical detail; it’s quite beautiful to look at and Moscow provides some serious exoticism. But it has to be said: the whole thing is so redundant. Why are we looking at this movie? Why does it exist? For Bruce Willis to put his kids through college? I’m sure that happened long ago. This is a competent movie devoid of raison d’etre. It may as well be dead.