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Allen Adams Allen Adams
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edge staff writer


Nothing good about A Good Day to Die Hard'

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Action franchise's latest offering weak and uninspired

Every film fan has certain movies that he or she can't resist, despite knowing that disappointment is inevitable. Some are the product of too-good-to-be-true trailers, others the result of overextending a once-beloved franchise. We go to the theater, understanding full well that we are most likely not going to enjoy the experience.

Which brings us to 'A Good Day to Die Hard,' the fifth installment in the ongoing 'John McClane cracks wise, gets shot and eventually murders all the foreigners' series of films.

This time around, McClane (Bruce Willis, 'Looper') has reached full-on 'too old for this st' status in his tenure at the NYPD. However, he soon gets the news that his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney, 'Jack Reacher') has been arrested in Moscow and is about to be put on trial. Being John McClane, he immediately gets on an airplane with the apparent intent of giving the Russian legal system the Hans Gruber treatment.

He arrives just in time to be in the middle of a daring attack on the courthouse an attack that Jack escapes with fellow detainee Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch, 'Suspension of Disbelief') in tow. John and Jack have a less-than-tearful reunion in the midst of the chaos and Jack finally reveals what he's been doing in Russia in the first place he works for the CIA.

Of course he does.

However, due to the extreme circumstances, the agency has bailed on the mission, leaving Jack on his own to try and protect Komarov in order to gain access to a mysterious file containing evidence linking a prominent Russian politician (Sergei Kolesnikov, 'Cold Souls') to the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. As you might imagine, there are a lot of powerful people out there who want that evidence to stay buried, leaving the McClanes trapped and hunted in a foreign land, unsure of who can be trusted.

Cue the car chases and excessive gunplay.

'A Good Day to Die Hard' fails to pass muster on a number of levels, but its biggest issue is also its most basic. What made the first entries in the 'Die Hard' series so appealing was the way they turned the conventional tropes of action cinema on their head. Instead of the invincible warriors that dotted the 80s action landscape, John McClane was just a regular cop with a smart mouth and an attitude. He bled when he got shot, he made mistakes nothing was ever easy for him.

That John McClane is gone. In his place, we have a guy who despite his advanced age is essentially a supercop, a regression to those same invulnerable action heroes that 'Die Hard' originally railed against. Willis's performance seems to reflect that change; even McClane's trademark humor seems forced and misplaced. And of course the action sequences, while technically well-done, remove us still farther from the spirit of the original.

It would have helped immensely if we could have seen even a hint of the McClane spark in Courtney's performance, but his performance is almost shocking in its humorlessness. It's understandable that the filmmakers would want to create some familial disconnect between father and son it could have been compelling but instead, we get two guys who seem like they barely know one another. Even in the obligatory moment of tender reconciliation, they might as well be strangers.

As a generic action movie, 'A Good Day to Die Hard' is passable just barely, but passable. But as a 'Die Hard' movie, it is a sad and unwelcome disappointment. Here's hoping they finally pull the plug and let John McClane rest in peace.

1.5 out of 5

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