Posted by: greercn | February 16, 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard

Just park your brain at the door and pick it up on the way out. Or, at least, place your critical faculties in neutral. This is a “Die Hard” movie. You get car chases, a new world record in product placement via destroying Mercedes vehicles and a remarkable number of things being blown up and shot at, including the now obligatory helicopter scenes.

You want more? Sorry, there isn’t anything for you here.

People ask me a) Is Bruce Willis still up to the role b) Does the Russian setting add anything c) Is Jai Courtney any good as the son?

So,

a) Bruce Willis is a star with presence. Nobody goes to these movies because he has matinee idol good looks or Prince Valiant hair. They go to see Bruce in vests, shooting, being shot, surviving explosions and basically, being every insurance company nightmare. You like him or you don’t. End of.

b) Establishing scenes are shot in Moscow and there are some cool Moscow accents early on. After that, you are on planet generic Slinky Slav. It’s mostly Hungary, Burbank sound stages and tons of CGI. Yippee ki ay Mother Russia, the poster says. I can’t even remember hearing that line. But I may have been dazzled by the lights from the last explosion.

c) Jai Courtney has the most remarkable arm muscles I have ever seen. Honestly, they deserve their own franchise. Can he act? I have no idea. My eyes were only occasionally tempted from Bruce by Jai’s arms.

Plot? John McClane’s son is in trouble and in Russia. Daddy goes to rescue him. There’s some nuclear risk stuff and a few good jokes about Newark, New Jersey (sorry, friends in Newark but you are a fair target in movies) and a few not so good jokes about being American, being a McClane and being in the CIA.

All 98 minutes passed quickly and the Stratford East Picturehouse audience were entertained, albeit the younger viewers started playing on their phones halfway through, after three minutes without shooting, car chases or explosions.

When Bruce Willis was interviewed on British TV, he mused about and mocked the title and showed off how he makes his baby daughter laugh, by spitting water.

Clearly, apart from payment, Bruce has already lost interest. Me too, although I will watch this movie again and again when it comes on TV. Jokes about Chernobyl and uranium are in incredibly poor taste but, if you want philosophy and intelligent discourse on nuclear weapons, you’ll need to read a book or, at least, find another movie.

Direction here is a little flabby – see those aforementioned slow scenes – and continuity is non-existent. Wounds and tears appear and disappear within the same scene.

But you parked your brain and you don’t mind, right?

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Responses

  1. i saw bruce on ‘live with kelly and michael’ on friday and he says he loves making these ‘die hard’ flicks. he might have been joking, but he said he could see doing five more of them — he loves them that much.
    or else his alimony payments really are a killer, and he simply needs some steady $25 million dollar paydays… lol
    🙂
    ps: he did the same water thing for his daughter on letterman last week, too!

    • I can certainly see him going on and on with these as long as the box office shows they work. I guess we will also see that water thing again and again. Thanks for the comment, Scriv! Interesting to know he is being more positive about the franchise for the North American market than he is for Europe. We just don’t buy enough popcorn.

  2. I saw this recently too. I think the main problem (it was a big problem in Die Hard 4 too) is the lack of tension in these new Die Hards. The first movie was thrilling because it really seemed like John McClane had no chance against all these trained mercenaries. We see him struggle to kill and overcome every baddie getting badly injured and chased around at his every move. He doesn’t even have any shoes and he’s seen to feel that with every step in shot out glass windows that he has to traverse to survive.

    In this new one it never really feels like the McClane boys are in any real danger – the dangers they encounter are mostly CGI helicopters and ridiculous car chases that look like they certainly will have killed many passing civilians but barely scratch the two heroes. Yeah, they have blood makeup and John’s son does get a bit of iron scaffold in his belly – but they never seem to feel the pain. As soon as the son has that iron removed hes fine to run around and shoot unhindered again – like it never happened. I suppose suspension of disbelief could be argued but it’s a bigger problem than that – there’s just no immediate palpable danger in the movie. I think that’s partly due to the way John Moore put the film together; he went with a very realistic and gritty shaky cam style that contradicts the fantastical special effects during the action scenes – It’s just jarring.

    I don’t agree with the idea that an action movie can really be enjoyed with your brain turned off. Action movies like every other genre still have to be good to be enjoyed and this isn’t. They have to convey a sense of danger to make you actually care about the action going on on-screen and turning your brain off can’t fix a tensionless noodle of a movie.

    • Thank you for the comment! Maybe you’re right and I am being too soft on it. I agree the directing was flabby and there are loads of continuity bloopers. But I still feel most comfortable about enjoying big explosions and car chases with my brain disengaged. Otherwise, I get annoyed while I am watching! You make some very good points.


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