In my review for Live Free or Die Hard, I mentioned that within long-running franchises, there’s always going to be an installment that will break the camel’s back. For Star Wars, it was perhaps The Rise of Skywalker – for The Terminator, it was Genisys. There are so many more examples of that one film that genuinely destroys the series, and leaves it in shambles, with the studio simply confused about where to take the story next. A Good Day to Die Hard was that film for the Die Hard franchise, and not only did it kill the franchise, it really set a precedent for most of its actors who never really found work in a big film again.
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The Movie Review
To find his estranged son, Jack, New York City police officer John McClane travels to Moscow. McClane believes his son is a criminal, thus it surprises him to find out that Jack is actually working undercover to safeguard Komarov, a whistleblower for the Russian government. McClane and Jack must put aside their disagreements in order to save Komarov and stop a potentially cataclysmic crime in the Chernobyl zone while putting their own lives in danger.
I adore action movies, I’ve always had them as one of my favorite genres. However, I prefer them to also have a story and characters with actual depth, which is this film’s biggest detriment. An icon in the action films scene, John McClane, receives the most appalling treatment imaginable, as he simply gets made into a sidekick to his own son. He is abruptly placed in Russia from the outset without any explanation of him even having a son in the previous films.
This was a crucial aspect of the previous four movies, where continuity is what kept them going. It’s sad that even his wisecracks are lame, he has been reduced to an action super cop who just takes out bad guys without hesitation.
It doesn’t help that most elements of this franchise that made it so popular are also very weak here, at least compared to prior entries. I decidedly did not enjoy the action here, especially because it was pointless, and was just there for the sake of being a Die Hard film. The worst and most annoying aspect of the film comes in the form of the shaky camera, which significantly damages the overall visual coherency of the film. Why would I care about the action, if I can barely even see it? Well, the film wants me to, so I shall do so? Nope. Not happening.
Never in the film do you even feel like John McClane could lose this battle, which makes the stakes feel extremely low in contrast to the other films. There’s no tension, no intensity, and the violence lacks any real backbone. A strong antagonist is necessary for a good action film. none in A Good Day to Die Hard are any good out of its three main antagonists. They are all forgettable. Nothing comparable to Colonel Stuart or Thomas Gabriel.
Not only do they lack any intelligence, menace, and memorable qualities, they’re never even close to pulling off their ‘big bad’ criminal deed which would make them push McClane into a corner. They simply die at the end, without any big moments. What was their sinister scheme? What nefarious acts do they commit? dealing in weapons.
The music also doesn’t help this film in any way, despite being on an upward trajectory with the inclusion of composer Marco Beltrami. He does a compelling job of making sure that the soundtrack is decent in the film, but overall it lacks the grit and doesn’t really fit the film’s superfluous narrative that it throws right on top of you.
A Good Day to Die Hard is not only a bad film, but it’s also one of the worst sequels in the history of filmmaking. It’s a ‘franchise killer’, as it was the last Die Hard film we saw with Bruce Willis taking the lead, although most of the lead was given to Jai Courtney’s character anyway. The one thing that can define this film, is simply the term ‘disappointing.’
- The music is okay
- The action is downright unrealistic and horribly shot with shaky camera
- The characters are parodies of themselves, John McClane was done dirty
- There’s little to no coherence in the plot, and zero build up whatsoever
- The music is decent at times but overbearing and unfitting for most sequences