A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (John Moore). 97 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens today (Thursday, February 14). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
The original Die Hard is a hell of a thing - a sleek, gleaming thriller that ushers you gradually into its preposterously scaled action beats, with Bruce Willis as a scared, desperately outmatched hero to keep it all compelling.
Five movies and a quarter-century later, there's no time for that crap. A Good Day To Die Hard is just "strap in, blow up, go home," with a couple of passing nods to John McTiernan's 1988 masterwork. If the first film was a finely tuned machine, this one's a great big ugly Mack truck of shooting and exploding and yelling, all shakycams and quick cuts and incomprehensible action blocking. (It's designed to be shown in large-format IMAX, but that might actually make people throw up.)
Blame goes to screenwriter Skip Woods (Swordfish) and journeyman director John Moore, who made the passable remake of The Flight Of The Phoenix and the atrocious remake of The Omen. Both men are willing to throw out a quarter-century of goodwill toward a beloved action franchise in order to make an utterly generic action movie that just happens to star Willis's indestructible John McClane.
The plot's an incoherent mess designed to pair McClane with his estranged adult son (Jai Courtney), who's secretly a CIA agent charged with rescuing an imprisoned Russian billionaire (Sebastian Koch, a dead ringer for Antonio Banderas), and have them reconcile under fire in Moscow. But Moore's so in love with his cataclysmic action sequences (and so heedless of the collateral damage, which is fairly disturbing for this series) that he's forgotten to include the character details that might make us care about any of it.
And though decency prevents me from spoiling the ending... well, let's just say it turns out the line between "preposterous" and "outright stupid" ain't that fine after all.Norman Wilner