I’m a die–hard fan of the Die Hard series. Thus, sitting in the theater waiting for the newest installment of the series, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” to start, I wondered whether my review should be a completely objective criticism or a reference–filled recommendation. The inevitable “what if it sucks?” crossed my mind, as it does for any fan anticipating a new addition to a beloved franchise (remember “Star Wars Episode I?”).
Fortunately, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is a success. References to the previous films aren’t excessive and, with the return of the R rating, the film returns to over–the–top violence, explosions–and–gunshots former glory. The shootouts and car chases are full of excitement and Bruce Willis hasn’t lost the John McClane attitude with age. This time McClane teams up with his alienated son Jack (Jai Courtney), a CIA agent undercover in Moscow. Their relationship provides plenty of great banter as well as an interesting juxtaposition of old and new action movie heroes. John is an old–school cowboy of the “Rambo” era, while Jack is a cold, serious super–spy reminiscent of Jason Bourne. Together they make a perfect team that will satisfy newcomers and old fans alike.
However, “Good Day” certainly isn’t the best of the series. Early on, John acts more like a sidekick than a hero, walking a few steps behind Jack and having little influence on the plot. The villain is not nearly as striking as those of previous films, like Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber or Jeremy Irons’ Simon. Although Jack creates a father–son dynamic that is new to the series, his often one–dimensional personality doesn’t complement Willis the way other foils like Samuel L. Jackson have.
Despite some missteps, “Good Day” triumphs with a mixture of new tricks and old standbys. To the fans out there, this one’s not quite “Die Hard with a Vengeance” but it definitely tops “Die Harder.” For anyone else just waiting for a decent action movie to come out this year, “A Good Day to Die Hard” won’t disappoint.
Our Grade: B+
Rating and runtime: R, 97 min.
See if you liked: “Live Free or Die Hard”