February 20, 2013

Is it Still A Good Day to Die Hard?

Print More

Monster cars? Highway chases? Extreme explosions? Check. Moscow? Conspiracy? Hot Russian babes? Check. These characteristics have become the staples of action movies lately, including A Good Day to Die Hard, the latest movie of the genre that hit screens everywhere on Valentine’s Day. While the idea of releasing the latest installment of an action movie series that has scintillated audience members for the last quarter century on this specific day is respectable — after all, there are still many out there who could take a break from pink hearts and confetti — the movie itself is a disappointment. Even a die hard fan would have to concede that John McClane (Bruce Willis) should probably retire for good, both for the sake of the fans of the franchise and himself, for he is no longer the thirtysomething-year-old that took the world by storm in 1988.

In this installment, John’s estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) gets caught up in a dirty political game in Russia and agrees to help Viktor Chagarin, a high ranking official, incriminate his rival Yuri Komarov. What follows is 90 minutes of unrealistic actions scenes and forced comic dialogue. The film lacks a clear exposition; rather, it has such a convoluted beginning that the audience is not quite sure why it even starts in the first place. After three years on non-speaking terms, John and Jack inadvertently meet up. The most absurd of all, John does not know anything regarding Jack’s involvement with the CIA. Perhaps director John Moore mistakenly thinks enough decibels and deaths can compensate for a less than mediocre storyline, or maybe writer Skip Woods just writes scenes with no grand scheme in mind. The end result leaves the viewer unable to conjure up anything good thing about the film.To start, let’s just say that Moore does not even try to hide the fact that action movies depart from reality. Action heroes in their prime cannot escape unscathed from the many catastrophic incidents depicted in the movie, let alone John McClane, bald and clearly beyond his years of being Superman. The first action scene, one on the Moscow highways, turns comic because what leaves an impression is not the chaos caused by the traffic chase, the size and caliber of the vehicles used or the suspense that usually accompanies such scenes, but the fact that both John and Jack come out of the car chase, completely intact. When Bruce Willis emerges from his car laughter ensues. Similar scenes continue throughout the movie and the action is not enough to make the inplausibility worth overlooking. Each large action sequence in the movie can be watched in its own right as lighthearted macho entertainment. None of the sequences are connected to what is happening in the plot — only to more gunfire and explosions.What the film lacks in plot development, it does not make up for in acting. Newbie Jai Courtney portrays a flat character and adds no dimension to the movie with his performance. His portrayal of Jack falls flat. Throughout the movie, he seems to have a single facial expression, one of contempt. It would be understandable if he harbored that feeling towards his father, who may have been less than dedicated to his family in the past, but when Jack should be feeling concerned, hurt or deceived, the audience cannot observe any changes to his countenance. His sarcastic jabs towards John are one-dimensional. The moments that should be more comedic between John and Jack instead make the audience cringe.Despite the film’s lackluster plot, casting and writing, the amelioration of John and Jack’s relationship at the end is heartwarming. In a movie that fails in almost everything else, adding a bit of sentimentality to the film is probably was its best decision. Although it is predictable for warring fathers and sons to make up by the end of the film, the fact that Jack finally softens his stance towards his father is probably the biggest shock of the whole flick. Since the movie is supposed to be an anti-Valentine pastime, it is perhaps fitting that A Good Day to Die Hard includes a relationship that is not romantic. In the end, isn’t that why the audience members went to the theaters last weekend? To escape or forget love?

Original Author: Charley Du