Hello readers! Hope everyone had a Happy Valentine’s Day. First off, what did you think of last week’s films “Side Effects” and “Identity Thief?” Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.
My column this week features reviews of the Bruce Willis action flick “A Good Day to Die Hard,” and the young-adult romance “Beautiful Creatures.”
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD
Tough-as-nails New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to bail out his estranged son, but learns that Jack (Jai Courtney) is actually a CIA agent trying to protect a political prisoner with valuable intelligence. With the Russian underworld in hot pursuit, father and son join forces to save the day.
Director: John Moore (“Max Payne,” “The Omen”)
Writer: Skip Woods (“The A-Team,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”)
Notable Supporting Actors: Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
MY TAKE: After a henchman captures John McClane and his son in John Moore's action flick "A Good Day to Die Hard," he scoffs "This isn't 1986." Really? Because it sure seems like it. Not only does the latest “Die Hard” take a trip to Russia which is totally 80s, but the villain traces his power back to the Cold War days. Plus "A Good Day to Die Hard" represents yet another film in 2013 with an 80s action star doing old tricks.
Like the other movies, this one is in denial about the lead actor's age and eager to completely push the believability envelope. In fact, this “Die Hard” drives your suspension of disbelief past the point of no return by constantly trying to one-up its predecessor “Live Free or Die Hard.” Car chases are longer, explosions are bigger, physical peril is greater, property damage is higher, and there are more McClanes. The last film had his daughter? Well this one has his son AND his daughter with focus on the father/son dynamic. Speaking of McClane’s progeny, isn't scary that he is old enough to have a grown-ass son? Their team up strangely reminds me of “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,” except the weird part is that we've been slowly been watching McClane’s transformation from Indy into a wisecracking, less nerdy dad (Connery) character on screen over the years.
I can't get completely bent out of shape about the outlandish elements in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” since all of the films in the series include some fantastic elements. Although I could more easily forgive “Live Free or Die Hard” because the story was immensely entertaining. That movie had some great one-liners, non-stop action, and a diabolical villain. This film’s best moments come from ludicrous action scenes like the excessively long car chase through Moscow and the helicopter attack which sends both McClanes plummeting several stories through scaffolding. But it doesn’t have a strong plot or characters because it deviates too much (both intentionally and unintentionally) from the classic “Die Hard” formula.
First, trademark witty exchanges are almost non-existent between the characters. There’s a whole scene which literally involves people yelling at each other to “shut up” like sixth graders. Bruce Willis also seems to be muttering many of his lines, so that you can barely even hear his signature catchphrase by the time he gets to it. Several times during the movie he complains “I’m on vacation!” which doesn’t make sense considering the whole point of his trip is to find and help his son. Second, the villains are weak characters who barely have any kind of rapport with John McClane. Part of the problem is that their motives aren’t well explained and the other is that the film spends too much time trying to throw in twists involving their shifting loyalties. Third, and finally, the flick takes all these bizarre dramatic breaks in the action for characters to talk about their feelings and their past. These moments slow down the pace dramatically and make the 97 minute film feel so much longer.
As a Bruce Willis fan, I was initially excited to see John McClane back in action because he’s one of my favorite characters, however I should have suspected something would go awry teaming the director of the crap sandwich known as “Max Payne” and the writer of that dog turd “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” There were a few fun bits in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” but I wish the franchise left well enough alone after the fourth installment.
My Grade: D+