A Good Day to Die Hard is a bad way to die… for one of the finest action film franchises of all time. Although it showcases some fierce and fiery action sequences, the fifth Die Hard feature is easily the worst of the series and only reminiscent of its predecessors. Instead of being another solid standalone standout like any of the first four Die Hard movies, A Good Day to Die Hard indicates that the franchise has sunken closer to a standard action flick with a conspicuous emphasis on bigger, but not necessarily better, exhibitions of stunts, explosions, gunfire, and shootouts.
Die Hard‘s return to an R rating might have most resembled the only PG-13 movie of the franchise, previous installment Live Free or Die Hard, but it still looked like a blast in early teasers and trailers. A Good Day gets off to a good start, but it immediately becomes cheesy and corny when Yippie-Kai-A-hole John McClane is re-introduced and especially remains that way during the father-and-son conversations.
For director John Moore, A Good Day to Die Hard is clearly a tier up from his Max Payne adaptation and a step closer to his feature debut, Behind Enemy Lines. The inclusion of plenty of practical effects to balance out the CGI helps maintain more than a thread of connection to the vibe of the first three Die Hard movies, but A Good Day underlines and maybe overuses slow-mo and close-ups, typically of gigantic explosions. I liked the choice to have the Russian characters primarily speak in their native tongue rather than in heavily accented English, and I really liked the high-flying car chase, one of the best ones of recent action flicks. The movie’s spectacular vehicular and/or aerial stunts are some that Fast & Furious 6 may have trouble topping, but unfortunately all of the best ones, along with many of the best action shots, are already in the trailers.
The sequel’s villain this time around may be as smart and cunning as any of McClane’s prior nemeses, but the enemy in this fifth adventure is definitely not as memorable or personal as any before, a significant loss of a franchise trademark. The entire movie is set back by a lot of horrible one-liners and shaky handheld camera work that’s distracting and unnecessary. After an explosive first half, the rest of the film feels long despite it barely breaking an hour and a half. Ultimately, A Good Day to Die Hard is another disappointing movie this month (especially after being named an honorable mention for one of our most anticipated movies), but at least this one can be somewhat enjoyed if you need a noisy fix. I can’t see the junior McClane inheriting the franchise, but as long as Bruce Willis can hang, which the aging action star does here, they can milk his presence, which they reportedly will for one final sequel. That would be a good day to bring Die Hard back to its roots and end on a high note.
A Good Day to Die Hard gets 2.5 out of 5 stars.