‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ Movie Review – Dying Hard
It’s hard not to like the idea of a new Die Hard movie. With a scrappy protagonist and a history of awesome action visuals, A Good Day to Die Hard doesn’t automatically seem like a bad idea. However, their track record hasn’t been 100% either, and history can answer the question: how many good 4th sequels are there?
Enough is enough, Hollywood.
It’s hard to imagine anyone is that shocked that studios have no problems tinkering with a franchise. After an extremely popular (and well-received) Die Hard, a sequel was inevitable. Die Hard 2 seemed like a rehash of the original, but Die Hard with a Vengeance made up for it with more thrilling set pieces (albeit ridiculous ones) and Samuel L. Jackson. And that’s where it should’ve ended. One great movie, one decent movie, and one, er, mulligan.
12 years later, the long-awaited Live Free or Die Hard updated the aging series. It was no longer a prototypical 90’s action movie because the plot revolved around post-9/11 cyberterrorism. This is also where I divided from the critical consensus that it was, at the least, decent.
Still, it could’ve ended there. But, of course we get A Good Day to Die Hard which is probably (time will tell) the worst of the bunch.
For those unfamiliar, Die Hard’s protagonist is John McClane (Bruce Willis) and he’s not exactly a “typical” hero. Instead of being a bulky, physically-imposing tough guy, he’s a scrappier, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps badass. It’s no wonder he’s nicknamed a “cowboy.”
As an aside, it’s fun to picture John McClane as Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) inspiration. As a huge 24 fan, there are so many parallels between the characters and their situations.
In A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane moves his game out of the U.S. (for the first time) and into Russia, where he is trying to find his son Jack (Jai Courtney). When he arrives in Russia, he is unknowingly thrown into the middle of a terrorist plot. John is forced to help his estranged son, who is involved in some way.
To harp on the actual plot of any Die Hard movie could be laughable because they are designed to be action movies. Sure, any copy-cat can be found playing at virtually all movie theaters at any time, but at least Die Hard was one of the originals back in 1988.
However, I’d argue that in order to succeed today, any sequel has to add something to the franchise. Simply redoing the story in slightly different circumstances – here, they use a different sibling and a different country – isn’t going to cut it. As you can probably tell, A Good Day to Die Hard falls into the not-going-to-cut-it category.
Some could argue it even devalues the series as a whole. Willis has always been the heart of stories, and his performances rank up there as the best in his career. This is an exception, though, because it again redistributes his character into familiar territory. It’s not necessarily Willis’ fault because McClane is written into a corner.
The stories do continue to create stellar set pieces, though. Whether those action sequences are a good thing is another story because, much like the others, they hop from somewhat-plausible to ridiculously-humorous.
By the end, it’s ultimately your choice whether A Good Day to Die Hard is another awesome chapter in the Die Hard series or not. It could range from that accolade to where I sit: a disappointing continuation of a dying franchise aided by Hollywood’s greed. This may be more of a rant than a review, but they should let the series die easy. As a standalone film, there really isn’t much good to say either.
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