Blue Pill – A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

Die Hard 5Bruce Willis once again throws on a wifebeater and calls himself John McClane, tortured traveller.  This time, McClane reconnects with his son, who has apparently gotten himself into some trouble in Moscow.  One crappy plane ride and one crappy cab ride later, and John finds himself up to his neck in shit.  Car chase, Something, something, something, explosions… Yippie Kai Yay Mr. Falcon.

This is one of two reviews I’ll be writing for A Good Day To Die Hard.  I’m doing this, because I am of a completely split mind.  On the one hand…  this is a terrible movie.  Really.  Possibly one of the worst I’ve seen in years.  On the other hand…  I fucking LOVED watching it.  The last movie I enjoyed watching this much was The Avengers.  If you’ll excuse a reference to The Matrix you can take the Red Pill, and find out all about how bad this movie is…  OR… you can take the Blue Pill by continuing to read this article, and find out how much goddamn fun I had watching this movie.

Red PillBlue Pill

Yippie Kai Yay, Motherfucker

I had a blast watching this movie.  I really did.  I’ve heard time and time again about this movie that it pales in comparison to even the worst of the series, 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard.  I’ve heard that Bruce Willis seemed tired and distant.  I’ve heard the action was boring, slow, generic, tired, choppy…  even almost distracting.  I’ve heard that the story didn’t make any sense.  I’ve heard that Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of John Jr. because he thought it wasn’t faithful enough to the source material.

Okay, maybe I made that last one up.

All of those points are probably valid…  but allow me to show my checklist of what I want to get out of an action movie on the big screen.

  1. Does shit blow up?
  2. Did I laugh at the catchphrases?
  3. Is there a long span of time between #1 or #2 occurring?
  4. Is the movie trying to take itself seriously?

So lets go through the motions, shall we?

Question #1:  Does Shit Blow Up?

It sure does.  This was my main concern for this movie, going in.  The movie takes about 5 minutes to introduce some faces, and then blows some shit up.  It’s followed with an insane car chase, some “plot”, and then more ‘splosions.  As a whole, I enjoyed the sheer amount of action scenes in the movie.  They weren’t as strong as some, but they certainly weren’t unenjoyable.  John McClane has evolved into a kind of grim Ernest P. Worrell… a living cartoon impervious to damage.  The total ridiculousness of each and every element of the action makes my inner 10-year-old squeal with glee.  I was literally holding my sides laughing at how far they have escalated the implausibility of action scenes.  By the time it reached the point were a fucking Mercedes SUV was driving over cars like it was fucking Bigfoot, I knew any shred of realism was going to have to go away.  From that point on my mind was in full on “‘SPLODE!” mode.  Terry Crews walked in my brain during this movie and was, like, “Naw… fuck this, man.  This shit is too much.  I’m out.”

Question #2:  Did I laugh at the catchphrases?

This one was a split.  While I laughed at several catchphrases, and almost all the action, I got very tired of “I’m on vacation!”.  There was some good non-catchphrase, non-action humour to be found as well, though.  I loved the scene where John berates his son, essentially calling him a crybaby pussy, for having a three inch piece of re-bar stuck in his side.  I found there to be a great deal of chemistry between John and Jr. and I laughed at a good deal of it.

Question #3:  Is there a long span of time between #1 or #2 occurring?

Nope.  Not at all.  If anything, there’s too much “plot” that occurs during an action sequence.  Again, after five minutes I knew I wasn’t there to follow a story… but if I had’ve been trying to, there were needlessly complicated details involved for what was essentially a MacGuffin search.  Fortunately, though, any time my brain piped up with a “But why did…?” they blew something else up and I didn’t give a shit anymore.

Question #4:  Is the movie trying to take itself seriously?

I sure fucking hope not.  There was one interesting thing that I started to notice around the beginning of the second act, though.  Several scenes, shots and sequences began to play out in a way that I think were very clearly meant to be homages to other Bruce Willis movies.  Without intending to be too spoilery, this movie includes:

  • Shooting out the Glass (Die Hard)
  • a Gruber-Drop (Die Hard)
  • Propeller Dicing (Die Hard 2/The Last Boy Scout)
  • Willis on his knees, joking his way out of a gun in his face (The Last Boy Scout)

The way a few other things were framed, or shot, reminded me of other Willis movies, as well…  but I can’t remember them at this exact moment.  Maybe I’m unjustly giving them credit for re-using action movie cliches, but I honestly think it was meant to create a pastiche, rather than just ripping off old shit.  Assuming I’m not wrong here, I think it added a layer of something that wasn’t just action to the movie that worked.

Here’s Your Fucking Landing Lights

So… does it look like I’m worried about the plausibility or sense-making-ability of the plot?  Anything about how awake the star seems?  Weekend at Bernies II could’ve had an Explosions: Run-Time ratio comparable to this movie, and would’ve been one of the greatest sequels of all time.

Seriously, though… I personally didn’t think Willis looked much more tired than he did in the last two Die Hards, and when it comes to a straight up action movie, story is barely a blip on my radar.  It can make a good action movie great, and a great action movie incredible…  but an action movie can be great without it.  No, the only concern I had going in to A Good Day to Die Hard was that it wasn’t going to pass question #1.  It blew question #1 the fuck up.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know.  Might as well check out the Red Pill while you’re at it.

P.S.  I used “pastiche” in a Die Hard review.  Pretentious as fuck.

12 comments on “Blue Pill – A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

  1. Pingback: Red Pill – A Good Day To Die Hard (2013) | Fat Guy With Glasses

  2. This movie was just crap for me and I felt like it shouldn’t have been called a Die Hard movie. If it was any other action movie, it would have been alright but when you put those names together, you’re gonna run into trouble. Nice review.

    • I keep hearing that… but honestly… other than the first one, the other Die Hards are really just great & funny action constantly escalating the stakes.

      I mean, I’ve been hearing people say “I liked the last one, but this time they’ve really screwed up this series” since Die Hard 2. Then five or ten years go by, and they say it again when the next one comes out.

      It’s a valid point, of course. This film is clearly missing a key ingredient that makes a film work on a level other than explosion-porn… but I think people have really put the Die Hard sequels on an undeserved pedestal. I love them… but they all follow a formula of one type or another… and they’ve been getting more and more ridiculous all along. I’m just finding humour in how many are now saying (again, in some cases) “This is where I draw the line.”

      Thanks for stopping by, and commenting.

    • Thanks. In the early stages of the review, I found I was just going back and forth, saying how much fun I had, and then pointing out how much something just plain sucked. It felt like a jumbled incoherent mess, and not the usual kind of jumbled incoherent mess I like writing. I was reading it back and was getting mad.

      I ended up cutting a few paragraphs out, and realized I had about half a reviews worth right there…

      I always prefer to see an action movie in theatres, if I’m going to see it at all. The explosions are just explodyier. But I know you’re also among the “I might catch half a dozen theatrical releases” crowd as well, and even though I had a blast, I can’t recommend anyone else in that club gambling with their time on such a high risk venture.

  3. I’m torn by this movie too. I can totally see why everyone hates it (the story’s drab, action’s over-the-top, Willis seems tired) but I didn’t care! I enjoyed it more than the last Die Hard, and for what it was, a brianless action flick, it was really good.

    I just think we all need to accept that the Die Hard of old (which is brilliant in almost every regard) is gone. But as long as Willis shows up, blows some crap up, and drops his signature catch-phrase, I’ll watch the movie. Just with my brain firmly turned to the “off” position.

    • Part of me agrees. If you don’t find John funny here, and stuff blowing up isn’t enough… it’s definitely sad. I couldn’t shut my brain down 100% enough, and that’s why I had to write the Red Pill review as well. I enjoyed my experience watching it, but it earned a few lashes.

  4. Maybe if this film was not part of the Die Hard franchise and it was simply some sort of Michael Bay explosion clone it would have been better received. Otherwise its like going to a Lakers game expecting to watch Kobe and you have to watch a pee wee game instead.

    • I agree with that sentiment to a point…

      It loses traction with me, because this tirade of dissatisfaction has followed the release of every single Die Hard sequel. I vaguely remember people saying how much Die Hard 2 sucked. I thoroughly remember customers telling me that Die Hard with a Vengeance was one of the worst action movies they’ve ever seen. I heard people tell me Live Free or Die Hard was worse than Catwoman.

      Then a new one comes along and all of a sudden they aren’t considered so bad anymore. “A Die Hard film should be something more than such and such.” This comes from the same people who said the previous one was a goat-turd at release.

      I’m not saying you’re one of these people or anything, I’ve only just inter-met you in the last couple years. I’m just explaining why I’m tired of hearing “…but if it wasn’t a Die Hard…”

      Maybe people just have a greater than deserved expectation of the series in general. Or maybe it’s that each one is that much worse each time, and people can’t fathom one that’s an even farther fall from the original’s grace. I don’t know.

      • well the first Die Hard was one of the greatest Christmas movies of all-time. 😉

        I actually enjoyed Die Hard 2 as well but after that it seemed to me anyway that the wheels started to fall off.

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