Anthony's Film Review
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
The fifth Die Hard movie is pretty much a standard action flick of average quality...
All action movies have action (of course, that's the defining element) and a script with plot and characters, but great action movies require that the action and/or script be mindblowing and creative. Consequently, there are three ways to create a great action movie. The ideal way is to present explosive and suspenseful eye candy in the content of a story that moves forward at full throttle and features three-dimensional characters whom we care about. Another way is to have just enough action to put the movie into that genre, but present a very clever story with well-developed characters. The third way is to have basic plotting and character development but action that is unbelievably creative or exciting to watch, though this is perhaps the most challenge method of the three.
The first Die Hard movie in 1988 can be said to have great action in a great script. In contrast, A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth Die Hard movie released 25 years later, is nowhere close to any of the three types of great action movies I've described above. So if you're wondering whether I'm rating this movie anywhere from 7 out of 10 stars to 10 out of 10 stars, the answer is no. I already knew this based on the first 15 minutes of the movie. The real question that I had in mind while seeing the movie in a theater is whether it could still deserve 6/10 stars, the lowest positive rating I give a movie. To answer, that, let's explore the elements of this particular action movie.
In this Die Hard movie, which runs for just 97 minutes, there are just three major action sequences. The first is a long car chase through the busy streets of Moscow, Russia. The second is a quicker indoor action scene, followed a couple minutes later by an action scene at an empty ballroom (given the close timing, I'm calling it one action sequence). The third and last action sequence is a climactic battle at a location that I shall not name. Here's the bottom line on the action in these sequences: It's no doubt delicious eye candy. Often, the action disregards any logic or concern for collateral damage, such as when a rocket launcher is used during the car chase even with innocent commuters nearby. Overall, the action is certainly not weak.
What about the plot? In my opinion, it can be summed up in just two words: minimally necessary. It's very clear early on that the plot throughout the movie is there just to provide a purpose for the action. Basically, the always tough John McClane (Bruce Willis) learns that his son Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) is on trial in Russia. Immediately, John flies there to help Jack out. But at the moment he arrives at the courthouse where the trial is held, terrorists bomb the place, forcing Jack and a political prisoner named Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) to flee. John gets involved in the action but is still focused on trying to find out what kind of trouble Jack is in. Soon, it becomes clear that Jack is a CIA operative protecting Yuri who holds some kind of crucial secret, one that is perhaps nuclear in nature.
Just as the story is at a bare minimum, the three main characters aren't developed beyond their basic descriptions of tough father, tough son, and man under protection. Yes, there are a few moments that nudge John and Jack closer together as family, but again, it's part of providing what is minimally necessary. Expect to see the same minimally necessary development for various secondary characters, namely the terrorists who are after Yuri and a corrupt Russian defense minister. There's nothing more I can comment with regard to the characters of A Good Day to Die Hard.
So let's review. The action is what you'd typically expect in many action movies. The plot is developed just enough to even be a plot. The characters are pretty much one-dimensional labels. Basically, instead of an action movie that has a core skeleton with plenty of well-designed flesh on top, A Good Day to Die Hard is just an action movie skeleton. At the same time, the skeleton isn't so flimsy that it can fall apart. As much as I'd like to see more in this movie, I didn't dislike or hate any material that was in the movie. Therefore, A Good Day to Die Hard, in my humble opinion, is good enough for a marginally positive rating. It's not an enthusiastic "Yippee Ki-Yay M__________r," but a more quieter "Yippee Ki-Yay."
For more information about A Good Day to Die Hard, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the following:
The Die Hard Films