Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

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A Good Day to Die Hard

In July 1988, Hollywood introduced movie audiences to John McClane (Bruce Willis) in the movie Die Hard. An everyday man, a guy with nothing but good intentions, trying to make amends with his wife -- he's simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. When an office building is overtaken by greedy terrorists, he saves the day, despite nearly killing himself in the process.

Since then, we've been treated to three more films in the Die Hard series and in each film, despite his age, McClane seems to become more and more superhuman, losing just a little bit more of the charm that made us fall in love with him as a hero in the first place. That problem is still very much evident in the now fifth entry to this franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard.

In McClane's latest adventure, we discover he's rekindled his relationship with his daughter, who needed rescuing in the previous film. She's dropping him off at the airport to he can go to Russia and see his son Jack (Jai Courtney), who's gotten in some trouble after killing a Russian gangster. It doesn't take long for the elder McClane to cause trouble.

After an explosion causes his son to escape with another Russian prisoner in tow, John helps him out by aiding their escape. There, he learns that his son has been a CIA operative, much to John's disbelief. When they don't appear to have a way out, and still have a bad guy to dispose of, they do what McClanes do best: Kill bad guys.

One of the attributes that made John McClane the iconic character he was in the original Die Hard is his relatability. Put in a situation he's clearly never been in, he did what any of us would do ... if we had that much courage, of course. While doing these things, he gets beat up, shot at, his feet are cut up by shards of glass and in general he gets the snot kicked out of him.

But in each subsequent movie, he seems to become more and more impervious to injury, while ramping up the violence and the body count. In A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane survives horrific car crashes, explosions, gun shots and jumping out of buildings almost completely unscathed. It gives him the chance to ask his son if he's “gonna cry about it” when he gets a piece of rebar stuck in his ribs.

John McClane has been a lot of things throughout four films, but he's never been a jerk. While on vacation in Russia, he's very much the type of ugly American that makes Europeans hate us. He's pompous and uncaring, and even punches a guy who's yelling at him in Russian just because he can't understand what he's saying. Oh, and then he steals his car.

If A Good Day to Die Hard were a Bruce Willis action vehicle without the history of John McClane, it could be a decent entry in his filmography. For all the complaints, the movie is at times pretty fun to watch. It's not a very good Die Hard film though, because those films bring so much quality to the table that to see it diminished here is kind of heartbreaking. If you're a huge fan of the franchise, this might just satisfy you and most general audiences. It's easy to slap the name of Die Hard on an action film starring Bruce Willis -- it's just not so easy to live up to the hype of the previous films.