Friday, February 15, 2013

Brandon Peters retrospective reviews: Die Hard 5 (2013)

I was supposed to attend Tuesday's A Good Day to Die Hard screening, with the intent of having a review up Wednesday afternoon.  Alas, my wife got sick (nothing uber-serious), so I still haven't seen the film.  But thankfully Brandon Peters was kind enough to whip up a review in my absence.  I'm intending on seeing the film this weekend and will try to have a review of sorts up then, but in the meantime, let's let Brandon Peters give us his thoughts on the fifth and (for now) final Die Hard adventure...

A Good Day to Die Hard

Director:  John Moore
Starring:  Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Cole Hauser
Rated R
97 minutes

We’re not a hugging family.
                        ~John “Jack” McClane Jr

Let’s start out like this. 
 From the director of Max Payne, The Flight of the Phoenix remake and The Omen remake.
From the writer of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitman and Swordfish.
I know.  How can you contain your excitement?

With that on the table, it should come as no surprise that A Good Day To Die Hard clocks in as an absolute disaster and outright failure.  That this is a film in the beloved Die Hard franchise makes it hard to stomach.  Bruce Willis shows up for a paycheck in film that seemingly goes out of its way to make the viewer dislike it.

A token amount of plot: The fifth way that John McClane gets himself in the wrong place at the wrong time is in pursuit of his son.  John has to go to Moscow to find his son Jack.  Jack is in prison for an assassination attempt he claims he was ordered to execute from Yuri Komarov, a political prisoner set to stand a trial in which he will expose high ranking official Chagarin.  But Jack is a US secret agent hoping to get close to Yuri to exchange his incriminating information in exchange for Yuri’s escape to safety.  John McClane gets mixed up in this by showing up at the right time, having to team with his resistant son in order to complete the mission.

Things just feel off right from the get-go.  John McClane's insertion into the action just doesn't feel natural or really needed at all.  For the first 1/3 of the picture, it feels as if Bruce Willis is in a separate movie trying to catch up with another movie.  Much of Willis's screentime in the opening reels consist of merely sitting and spurting out one liners and really dumb dialogue to no one but himself.  Willis just doesn't seem interested in this movie and he feels shoehorned in.  He seems acutely aware of this to boot.  Willis and Jai Courtney also have zero chemistry.  To say that they don't have the chemistry of Willis and Samuel L Jackson is one thing, but they will make you long for the comparatively rich relationship that Willis share with Justin Long in Live Free or Die Hard.  There’s far too much forced scripted emotion involved in their relationship but none of it is fun and non of it works.  Part of that might have to do with a poor performance by Courtney.  This is my first run in with him, but he seems destined to team up with Sam Worthington in a buddy cop film.  It pains me to know that Aaron Paul from TVs Breaking Bad also auditioned for this role and would have been a PERFECT fit for Willis.  He is of course a much better actor.

The direction of this film is just off-the-charts bad.  In a Jason Bourne rip off nightmare, these action scenes are insanely over-edited and hard to decipher.  The entire film is incredibly claustrophobic and doesn't try to give any time or care to anything other than the action sequences.  I want to see Russia.  But they have managed to make every place visited in the film lifeless, dull and just there when we should be basking in the idea of Die Hard in a foreign land.  The opening of the film devotes far too much time to one of the worst automobile chases I've ever seen.  The chase has no sense geography, is completely implausible, and is (worst of all) incredibly boring.  There a lot of guns firing and things crashing in this movie, but its all aimless, generic and dull.  The word of the day is "uninspired".

I like the premise of this movie, doing the ‘Point A to Point B in X Amount of Time’ plot.  That’s cool.  This script just needed like five more drafts and a real director in order to even make it serviceable.  And how about that R rating?  Aside from some swearing this thing is incredibly PG-13.  I’m wondering if they didn't go back and ADR a bunch of “Fuck”s in to hope to get that R.  The PG-13 violence, gore and intensity was MILES…and here I say it again MILES better in Live Free Or Die Hard than in this R-rated sequel.  This movie is short, but if anything, this movie’s plot and characters could have benefited from being longer (I want to shoot myself from saying “make this longer”).  The director doesn't want focus on dialogue, plot and character.  He just wants to get to more of his shittily done action sequences.  There are some big moments in the end, but due to this director’s inability to shoot anything good, at best I can say “things go boom”. 

If you’re wanting to see a fresh Die Hard movie this weekend with an aged John McLane, don’t see this.  I highly recommend you rent/buy/Netflix Richard Donner’s last film 16 Blocks.  Pretend the Bruce Willis character is John McClane and run with it.  Before Live Free Or Die Hard I kinda unofficially looked at it as a final Die Hard film.  See that one this weekend (or something else in the theater.  Scott says Beautiful Creatures is good, so check that one out).  If you MUST see this one, don’t be in any hurry.  A Good Day to Die Hard is dull, generic and a complete disappointment as an addition to Die Hard series.  Maybe folks will finally lighten up about the fourth film now.  If there is a sixth and final Die Hard (like Willis wants), would it be possible for Jan de Bont to shoot the film, while John McTiernan directs via satellite from prison like Spielberg did (not from prison mind you) for The Lost World: Jurassic Park?  This series needs that magic one last time.

Grade: D

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The Rocha Rant said...

And now a sense of dread enters me in anticipation 0f my decision on whether to see or not see tis film. It's a Taken 2 situation and I don't like it one bit!

The Rocha Rant said...

Clearly it's 7am my time and I am a bit groggy! What I meant to say is: "NOW a deep sense of foreboding enters me in anticipation of my decision to see or to not see this film. It's a Taken 2 situation and I don't like it one bit." I'm awake now!


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