Bruce 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.
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.
- Does shit blow up?
- Did I laugh at the catchphrases?
- Is there a long span of time between #1 or #2 occurring?
- 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.