Starring Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney • Directed by John Moore • Age restriction: 16LV • Releases 15 February
In a nutshell, the fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise is bad. Spectacularly bad. But it's also mildly entertaining – while also being rather embarrassing, kind of like watching your drunk uncle stumble around a party, knocking over tables and destroying all the glassware while trying to recapture his glory days.
Actually, that's exactly what it's like.
A Good Day to Die Hard comes 25 years after Bruce Willis' John McClane burst onto the scene in a crescendo of shattered glass, gunfire and explosions. And both Willis and the franchise are showing their age here – A Good Day to Die Hard feels dated: Russian villains, a twist on the Chernobyl disaster, weapons-grade uranium... It all feels very Cold War.
The plot – for what it's worth – goes something like this: McClane jets off to Russia to track down his estranged son Jack (we're never really told why they're estranged, just roll with it), who he finds out is in a Russian prison with a scary rap sheet (what's on the rap sheet isn't really revealed either). Turns out his son has gone from juvenile delinquent to CIA superspy, charged to extract political prisoner Komarov from the clutches of former friend turned villainous politician Chagarin. Daddy dearest manages to screw up the extraction, and the pair are forced to run the streets of Moscow – and later Chernobyl – trying to clean up the mess.
Really, you're not here for the plot. Hopefully you're not here for the acting, scriptwriting, editing or anything related to continuity, physics, anatomy or soul, either. After watching the McClanes leap out a window and fall – oh, about twenty stories – they emerge with fine trickles of blood – and a piece of iron in Jack's gut, which is easily removed by dad before the pair rush off to run around Chernobyl.
At its heart, A Good Day to Die Hard feels soulless – even McClane's wisecracks have no sparkle. His iconic line (yes, it's in here too) feels tired, and the ending and inevitable family reconciliation feels completely forced – especially because really, we don't know jack about Jack. This isn't helped in the slightest by Jai Courtney, the Australian actor playing him. He's pretty enough to look at, built like Willis in his prime, but there's not much else going on.
Visually, A Good Day to Die Hard is a hot mess. Between super painful slow-mo shots and enough explosions, gunshots and heavy ammunitions fire (RPGs and helicopters, and maybe two cop cars show up the whole film? What goes on in Russia?) to level a small country, the film as though it picked up The Big Book of Action Movie Cliches and ticked off the checklist inside.
One of the biggest issues I had with the film were the glaring continuity errors – particularly the madly edited car chase through the streets of Moscow (which I swear went on for a quarter of the film). Car A drops from the highway to the road below, but is somehow still right behind Car B? Wait, what? Also, why do the (Russian) villains speak Russian to each other sometimes before switching to English? Pick a language. Seriously.
And speaking of the villains – they're very cookie-cutter, and there are too many. There's too much double-crossing, too many plot twists in an attempt to be "smart". It's exhausting.
Still. A Good Day to Die Hard will rake in the cash at the box office. Personally, I'd wait for it to become an eTV Saturday night staple. It's not worth the extra effort – unless all you want to do is watch extremely large explosions.