If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? This saying seems to be applied to many a sequel in film making; a formula is devised, and then used over and over again, with a slight alteration for every new sequel to keep it fresh and exciting, albeit usually predictable. But sadly the Die Hard formula is broken. And rather than fixing it, can people please just stop making these films?
A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth in a chain of what were initially good old-fashioned action flicks, complete with a catchphrase, explosions, dodgy bad guys with pan-European accents, a very tongue in cheek sense of self awareness and more witty one-liners than you could shake a stick of dynamite at.
The latest plot involves John McClane going to Russia to help his son (he has a son?) fight some bad Russian guys who are involved in some very questionable nuclear plot. It’s all very complex. Needless to say there’s a father/son bonding sub-plot that’s used as a tool to supply some of the (only) laughs.
The initial half an hour provides a few laughs, presumably as the audience tick off a mental check list of ‘things to see/do in a Die Hard movie,’ but the novelty wears off fairly quickly as nothing new is really explored. The first car chase scene is expectedly lengthy, and whilst the effects are impressive as ever, the audience are undoubtedly left wanting a bit of a change.
The ludicrous stunts and casual attitude of McClane has gone from being fun to coming across as fairly smug, as the writers clearly rely heavily on the fact that those watching the film have seen in all before, and are all in on the joke. Even the smallest amount of tension has been totally lost as the characters are put in increasingly ridiculous situations and escape unscathed; it's funny at first, but now it’s unclear what the point of it all is.
The small saving grace is Bruce Willis. He still clearly enjoys playing the role of McClane, and whilst he’s not as young as he used to be, his physique is still admirable and you can believe that he would at least have the stamina to be a hero if nothing else.
Sadly there’s not much to say about the rest of the cast, though through no fault of their own. The bad guys are bad, the bad girls are sexy, and whilst Jai Courtney definitely gives it a shot, there’s not much room for manoeuvre when you’re playing a CIA agent who seems to have the stealth and skill of rookie traffic cop.
Where 4.0 was made long enough after the first three to generate excitement and revive feelings of nostalgia, A Good Day to Die Hard feels like a bit of an afterthought. The films have always been fun, and whilst there is the odd moment, there’s nothing new or original enough to make it worth the watch.