Greetings again from the darkness. With only a few exceptions, comparing any sequel to its original is a bit unfair and usually somewhat disappointing. This is especially true with the Die Hard franchise. That initial entry in 1988 is often referred to as the top of the class in the action film genre. It combined stunning action sequences, breath-taking suspense, a world class villain, and a few characters to whom we could relate. Most notably, it introduced us to John McClane, a NYC cop making a trip to California in a last ditch effort to re-connect with his estranged wife and have Christmas with his kids. McClane, as played by Bruce Willis, was a likable guy with a touch of insecurity and a terrific stream of wise-cracks. Oh yeah, he also managed to run barefoot through broken glass while outsmarting a team of high-powered terrorists looking to steal millions.
Twenty-five years later, McClane (and Willis) is back for the fifth entry in the Die Hard franchise. Unfortunately, he is the only piece that bears any resemblance to the original brilliance. The action is only stunning in its level of absurdity and exaggeration. The first car chase seemingly destroys at least a third of the existing vehicles in Moscow. It does so with film editing that is likely to spur nausea and migraines among viewers. Subsequent action scenes include numerous explosions and enough gunfire and violent falls to kill off McClane and his son (Jai Courtney) at least a dozen times. Chernobyl makes for an interesting connection to the past, but falls flat in the end. Speaking of falling, McClane and Junior somehow manage to avoid paralysis or even broken ribs despite numerous falls and jumps that are just plain laughable.
The only “breathtaking” suspense offered was an obvious twist among characters we can’t name with baggage we aren’t privy to. The only other significant breath was my exaggerated sighs of frustration. As for the villain, I couldn’t remember his name during the movie and we are never let in on the big secret file … only that it contains some bad stuff on important Russian big guys. This particular bad guy chomps on a carrot while performing a goofy little dance … all while threatening to kill McClane and his son. Guess what happens? You’re right … McClane doesn’t die. We know this because Die Hard 6 was announced a week before this one opened.
Relating to these characters is impossible. McClane has some lame parent-regrets that don’t come across as sincere. His son is such a highly trained CIA operative that we aren’t sure what to make of him. We know he botched his mission and apparently it was because he stopped to yell at his dad for the ill-timed visit. The Russian that Junior is supposedly rescuing is bland, though he has a lovely daughter … but even she is saddled with truly awful dialogue. The only fun character in the movie is the Russian cabbie played by Pasha Lychnikoff. He sings Sinatra with a smile, even if he actually never drives the cab thanks to the traffic.
It’s been a rough year for action icons Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Statham and now Bruce Willis. Maybe the action genre has been muted due to the terrific action sequences of the recent Batman and James Bond movies … each of which offer interesting stories to go with endorphins rush action . The first Die Hard had a great story and fun dialogue. Now McClane spends much of the time telling people “I’m on vacation“. When it’s not funny the first time, each successive time is just exasperating. That’s not acceptable writing and this isn’t acceptable movie directing. Director John Moore is also responsible for The Omen (remake) and Max Payne, while writer Skip Woods gave us Swordfish and The A-Team. There have to be more talented filmmakers who deserve a shot.
**NOTE: I did not like this movie
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: and only if, you are OCD and must keep your streak of Die Hard movies going
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: at all possible
watch the really good trailer (it’s much better than the movie):