Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

Twenty-five years since the beginning of the terrific Die Hard trilogy and nearly six years after the quite frankly terrible Die Hard 4.0 (you know, like computers) John McLane (Bruce Willis) is back for a fifth instalment of Dying Hard but not actually ever dying ever. As with a lot of tired, out of ideas sequels, Die Hard 5 takes place outside the US and finds our hero in MosCOW on the trail of his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney) who he learns is due in a Russian Court on a murder charge. What John doesn’t realise however is that Jack is in fact a CIA Agent, working undercover to protect a political prisoner (Sebastian Koch) who has a highly sensitive file on a high ranking Russian Politician.

A Good Day to Die Hard tries its best to construct a story worthy of the original trilogy and even springs a surprise twist but nothing can mask that fact that this movie is boring. Dull, dull, stare, drive, BOOM!, guns, dull, talk, father-son, dull, driving, radiation, BOOM! BOOM! Hahaha, end. There is an incredibly tortured father-son relationship thing which gets dragged out for far too long and some stuff about Uranium but for the most part Die Hard 5 is just another run of the mill action shooter with far too much money to play with and not enough inventiveness.

When McLane arrives in MosCOW it is made very clear that he and his son don’t have a great relationship. What with all McLane’s terrorist killing and wife saving he didn’t have much time for poor old Jack who in rebellion got big muscles and became a terrorist killer. The old-young, father-son stuff gets really boring after about ten minutes but is dragged out for the full two hours until the never in doubt ending. The film opens fairly quietly as we are treated to exposition and introductions. It isn’t until around five minutes in that John McLane appears on screen and he probably has less screen time in Die Hard 5 than in any of the previous four. The John McLane character remains mostly the same from the early films, albeit a bit older but he was always cranky so the difference is negligible. One of the great things about the character was that he was an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation. With his son you don’t get this sense so it is much harder to root for him.

The action set pieces aren’t as tense or exciting as in even an average action film, let alone a Die Hard film. There is a huge car chase through the streets of Budapest Moscow (the film is so obviously shot in Budapest, it’s painful). The only good things I’d heard about the film before going in were about this chase but it feels boring and is filmed as though the camera is being held by jelly in an earthquake. It is impossible to see what is going on as a van, armoured truck and 4x4 speed through the busy streets of Budapest Moscow. I always find the best car chases are smooth and measured but this one is full of needless destruction and chaos. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen as destructive a car chase as this one. You’d think that would make it fun but it doesn’t. It’s just smash after needless smash and without a police car in sight.

After destroying most of Budapest Moscow the action shifts to Chernobyl for the film’s final scenes. The McLanes’ drive from Moscow to Chernobyl during the night, arriving seemingly minutes later. Now, a quick look on Google maps tells me that Moscow-Chernobyl is further than Land’s End-John o’ Groats or New York City-Atlanta yet the pair travel there, following a helicopter and still have time for a prolonged gun fight before dawn. The movie is full of ridiculous things which annoyed me but I probably shouldn’t get too bogged down in reality. Luckily the baddies had a magic radioactivity destroying spray so everyone was safe to wander around the city without fear of growing extra limbs. It is during the final scenes that most of the CGI is used. There is more CGI in this film than in any of the previous four Die Hard movies as you’d expect. What you don’t expect is for it to look like a ten year old video game. The GCI is dreadful. Luckily the in camera effects are much better but become tiring once you’ve seen your fiftieth or sixtieth explosion. The movie is rated as a 12A in the UK meaning that anyone of any age can see it as long as they have an adult with them. The screening I went to had seven people in it and one of them was about six. How can a Die Hard film be a Die Hard film if a six year old can see it? Even the famous Yippee-ki-ay mother fucker line is cut! Despite the lack of violence and swearing there is one obvious wink to the original film in the dispatching of the bad guy.

Bruce Willis could play the role with his eyes closed at times it feels as though he isn’t there or at least doesn’t want to be. You can almost see the apology coming from behind his eyes as he says “I’m on vacation” for the fifteenth time before a gun fight. It’s always nice to see Willis on screen but I really hope he hangs up his vest now. Jai Courtney is turning into a decent action actor but he doesn’t do anything special here. Sebastian Koch is one of my favourite European actors and has delivered superb performances in the likes of Black Book, The Lives of Others and even Unknown but here he is stifled by terrible dialogue and a character that does nothing for ninety minutes. Yuliya Snigir is on hand as eye candy but late on has some good scenes. In the early stages though she is only ever seen partly dressed. Even when walking to a helicopter in a long coat the wind blows it up to reveal the tops of her stockings. It's pretty lame. The dialogue in general is poor. There are no funny quips or gags and the sentimental bullshit of the closing scenes made me want to drink vomit just so I could spew up all the bile I held inside me. It’s difficult to think of much nice to say about A Good Day to Die Hard. Even the title makes no sense. It’s time to end it now.              


  • Bruce Willis is the only person either in front or behind the camera to be involved in all five Die Hard films.
  • The Russian gang had no actual Russian members. The roles were played by Slovakian, Hungarian, Serbian, Mongolian and Ukrainian actors.
  • The film was shot mostly in Budapest and driving scenes were filmed at Hungary's Hungaroring, home of the Hungarian Grand Prix. 


  1. Yeah, I'm not quite THAT hard on it, but I agree on a lot of points. It was a really boring plot, wasn't it? I actually used the phrase "blah, blah, blah" in my review. LOL

    And the action sequences were really bland too. :( I dont know that I'd hammer it that hard, but I definitely agree that this should be the last one.

    1. I just got angry that it was so mediocre. There was no fun to be had in it and when it's taking the name of a well loved series it should have respected it's heritage.

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