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Monday, February 18, 2013

A Not-So-Good Day to Die Hard

Let me start off by saying that 'Die Hard' is one of my favorite action franchises of all time.  Ever since Bruce Willis stopped a bunch of bad guys at Nakatomi Plaza in LA 25 years ago and made vacationing NYPD cop John McClane into one of Hollywood's biggest one-man-army badasses of all time, the 'Die Hard' formula has been followed in movies such as 'Air Force One,' 'Broken Arrow,' 'Under Siege,' 'Passenger 57,' and more recent efforts like 'The Raid,' 'Lockout,' 'Dredd' and two upcoming White House-takeover movies, 'Olympus Has Fallen' and the less imaginatively titled 'White House Down.'  As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

As you might have expected, there is a big 'but....' in this instance.  While I loved 'Die Hard,' enjoyed 'Die Hard 2: Die Harder,' found 'Die Hard with a Vengeance' to be mildly disappointing, and once again loved 'Live Free or Die Hard,' this fifth installment just didn't do it for me.  And I was so looking forward to this after watching the action-packed trailer set in Russia. 

So what went wrong?  I think the main thing is that 'A Good Day to Die Hard' lacked the 'soul' of its predecessors.  This movie is just one continuous, over-the-top, mind-numbing action scene after another, going through the motions of a 'Die Hard' movie but not really going anywhere.  There is no sense of urgency or peril at any point in the movie, even though John and his son Jack were constantly 'fighting for their lives.'  Trading 'father-and-son' quips while Russian helicopter gunships are shooting at them just makes it appear like this is all 'fun and games' to them, as much as they are indestructible macho men.  In one scene near the end of the movie, when a Russian Mil Mi-26 heavy transport helicopter piloted by the villain's daughter kamikazes into their building and they dropped through something like twenty floors though into water, even my near infinite patience finally gave out.  Laziness in plotting like this is just inexcusable.

I sincerely hope, if there will be a sixth installment in this franchise, that they put in a much better effort next time around and don't just 'phone it in.'  Otherwise, it will be time for John McClane to finally retire for good.

Grade: C

Warning: Side effects of watching this movie may include a sense of vertigo due to the movie's mind-numbing and soul-sucking action scenes.
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