Time has been kind to neither Bruce Willis nor the “Die Hard” franchise, and this is evident in the latest installment, “A Good Day to Die Hard.”
To be clear, time hasn’t necessarily been cruel, either. Willis still looks tough with a machine gun in his hands. Fans will still pack theaters to see him crash a helicopter while giving the pilot the middle finger in super-slow motion.
It’s just that Willis once spent an entire film running around a downtown building and shooting terrorists, and frankly, it was a lot of fun. That’s the problem: “Die Hard” used to be fun. It used to be “Yippie Kie Yay,” but somewhere along the line, “Yippie Kie Yay” became a catchphrase, foreign action films became the new norm, and fun was sacrificed for bigger guns and more realistic crashes — if a crash can be realistic when an army truck smashes its way off a bridge and onto the road below only to continue driving.
There are those who would make the case that bigger guns and crashes equate to a more entertaining film. If you are not a part of this crowd, you will not enjoy “A Good Day to Die Hard.”
As the film opens, Willis’ famous protagonist John McClane believes his son has gotten in trouble in Russia, so he travels to Asia to find him. As it turns out, his son is working for the CIA and trying to evacuate a man with enough evidence to convict a Russian leader for having a hand in the Chernobyl disaster.
McClane stumbles upon his son, tries to help and in the process shoots an absurd number of people and destroys most of Moscow. There are plenty of twists involved, although it should be noted that few, if any, are truly “Wow!” moments.
There are precious few moments of believable dialogue between McClane and his son, which is unfortunate because the bulk of the plot is based on the progression of their relationship. We don’t really understand why the younger McClane resents the older one so much, nor do we understand how the relationship ends up fixed. All we know is that, together, they are able to kill a lot of people.
Perhaps the movie is best summed up by a moment early in the film. McClane and his son are stuck in a bad situation. They are outnumbered, trapped behind a hotel bar and being shot at by men with machine guns. As bullets whiz by, McClane tries to engage his son in a discussion about the last time they saw each other.
“Oh no you don’t,” his son tells him. “That’s not your thing.”
“What’s my thing?” John asks.
His son looks at him incredulously.
“F***ing killing bad guys. That’s your thing.”
Indeed it is. But somehow, killing bad guys just isn’t as fun as it used to be.
Rating: 2 stars