Film: "A Good Day To Die Hard"; Actors: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yulia Snigir; Director: John Moore; Rating: **1/2
With over-the-top action, crazy car chases and loud blasting action sets, John Moore's "A Good Day To Die Hard" delivers the goods in explosions and destructions. Unfortunately, this franchise, the fifth in the series, deals with secret agent-cum-father-son bonding over gun shots and blasts, which seems more like a twist than a justifiable entry into the "Die Hard" series. Nevertheless, fighting bad guys under impossible odds is the basic outline, and a good one at that!
At a shooting range in the US, John McClaine (Bruce Wills), an ex-New York cop and a concerned father, learns that his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been imprisoned in Russia. Thinking that his son is involved in some drug racket, he rushes to Russia. But when he lands there, he finds himself thrown in the midst of a political plot that is too complicated for him to understand or too meaningless for him to care about. For, all he is concerned about is the welfare of his son.
Jack, on the other hand, gets irritated when he sees his father. What adds to Jack's annoyance is his father's guilt trip with "I screwed it up. I blew the mission Jack". This whole father-son dynamic brings with it plenty of silly family drama moments, which really does not add to the overall film in any noteworthy way. The chief suspense is waiting to see if Jack calls John "Dad".
This family bonding occurs in the backdrop of mayhem and pandemonium caused by car-chases, shoot-outs, double-crosses, helicopter stunts and blasts. The climax includes a trip to a redundant nuclear vault in Chernobyl all to finish off the bad guys, the master minds of this political carnage, who in reality are actually nuclear weapons thieves.
Sadly, none of the bad guys are impressive enough to withstand the personality of the father-son duo, making them mere pawns to the narration.
The gags flow easily in Skip Woods' script, but it follows the same action-adventure assembly that one saw in the previous "Die Hard" films. That's not to say that the story is a throw-away because it does have its moments. The 100-minute story is good, but not great.
The action is on par for what is expected in a movie of this caliber. There is no question about where a good portion of the budget was utilised.
However, what's incredulous is how the indestructible McClaine, both father and son, continuously emerge without a scratch from a series of fireballs, car crashes and bullet showers. Of course, the whole point is not to ponder or analyse the film's gaps in logic for it is obvious that director John Moore wanted to rather impress audiences with an array of well-choreographed action, seamless special effects and stunt work, and pyrotechnic prowess.
Bruce Willis seems to be in his comfort zone, playing the superhero dishing out sarcastic wise-cracks and cocky dialogues. The beefy Australian actor, Jai Courtney as the prodigal son and CIA Agent, holds his stead before Willis. Everyone else tends to be overshadowed by their presence.
Behind the unkempt beard, German actor Sebastian Koch as the controversial political figure Yuri Komarov, who's holding a file full of volatile information, is effective while Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as John's daughter Lucy, and Yulia Snigir, as Koch's daughter Irina, are wasted.
"A Good Day To Die Hard", as in previous "Die Hard" franchises -- "Die Hard", "Die Hard 2", "Die Harder", "Die hard With A Vengeance", "Live Free Or Die Hard" -- delivers enough where it counts to make up for its shortcomings.
It is a grandiloquent action flick and nothing more. If you are a "die hard" fan of action flicks, then this one is a must-watch.