A Good Day To Try Hard

They could have at least tried to make a good Die Hard sequel.

Just in case you didn’t hear the recent HalfCast where Ryan and I discussed this year’s action films and their poor performance, I said I had low expectations for the fifth installment of Die Hard.  Frankly, this hilarious video from Screen Junkies mirrors many of my own thoughts when it comes to my concerns about this sequel.

For the sake of providing some of my perspective on this (in case you’re unaware of my well-grounded opinions), like many, I’d always regarded Die Hard 2 as the weak spot in the series.  This is no longer true.  Having seen what is now five movies in chronological order during a marathon on Wednesday, I have to say DH2 is definitely the third best (or third worst) in the series, with Die Hard With A Vengeance  as my favorite followed closely by the original.  Despite the weak premise and dopey, flag-waving title of Live Free Or Die Hard (which I will refer to as DH4 for the remainder of this rant), I saw the movie when it came out six years ago and enjoyed it despite its flaws.  Having now seen DH2 and DH4 three times each, I can say that at least DH2 looks and feels like a Die Hard movie whereas DH4 annoys me more with each viewing.

Having said all that, I can safely say the also poorly titled A Good Day To Die Hard is stunningly awful.  After the last movie, many complained that the Die Hard name no longer had anything to do with the John McClane we grew up loving and it had merely been relegated to a brand.  I can’t help but agree with this because DH5 (get the idea?) doesn’t even remotely resemble the Die Hard films I love.

First of all, like DH4 and every recent action movie, there is an annoying blue tint during every action sequence and outdoor scene.  I’m not sure who’s to blame for this trend, but it really gets on my nerves when I see this style which I assume is trying to present some brooding darkness.  It’s a Die Hard movie (supposedly).  It’s supposed to be serious but light at the same time.

Another big issue is how John McClane isn’t really the main player in this movie.  He’s basically the annoying sidekick Justin Long was in the last movie.  His son, Jack, does most of the talking and calls most of the shots.  Even when John does have quips, they’re rarely funny and pointed like they used to be.  They sound more like a pissed off old man.  Bruce Willis might be playing a character named John McClane, but it’s not the same guy who we saw in the Die Hards of yore.

Speaking of his son, it was a shame to see a retread of the bad relationship he had with his daughter in the last one.  Jack wants nothing to do with John, just like Lucy did.  Apparently, he’s gone from unlucky street cop to bad father since 1995.  Remember how John’s wife, Holly, was using her maiden name (Gennaro) when he flew to LA to see her in the first movie?  His daughter was also using that last name in DH4.  Jack never comes out and says he’s going by the name Gennaro and not McClane in the new movie, but the way the story was going, I expected it.

As if the “estranged father” story wasn’t bad enough, rather than ending up in the middle of a terrorist plot and having to fight his way out like in the previous four films, John goes to Russia knowing his son is in trouble, which means he’s going there looking for a fight.  Yes, the “wrong place, wrong time” angle might get stale after a while, but we’ve never seen John McClane go looking for trouble.  On top of that, when he does end up in tight spots, he repeatedly quips that he’s “on vacation” which isn’t funny because they show us in the first few minutes of the movie how this isn’t the case.

Why couldn’t they give us a decent bad guy in this flick?  I’m not going to spoil the story or details here, but both of the Gruber brothers were clearly enjoying themselves while terrorizing people in the first and third movie.  The DH2 terrorists were pretty straight-laced but John’s bickering with Dennis Franz’s head of airport security made up for it.  I never thought Timothy Olyphant staring angrily at computer screens was all that electrifying in the last movie, but all the more reason there should have been an enjoyable baddie this time!

As for the trademark “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker,” for the first time in the series, it’s not even used right before or right after killing the bad guy.  What a waste.

Finally, call it nitpicking, but I shouldn’t have had much faith in a movie written by a guy named Skip.  Grown men who go by the names Skip and Chip are not to be trusted, plain and simple.  Plus, considering this same guy wrote the last Wolverine movie and the poor adaptations of both Hitman and The A-Team, I shouldn’t have expected this move to be watchable.  And to think I had such hopes for Kane & Lynch.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy a single thing about the movie, except the fact that it was a half hour shorter than the other four movies, which was only a perk in light of how bad it was.  If there is a sixth film made down the line, I’ll be very reluctant to see it.  Once again, you can hear more detailed thoughts in the HalfCast from this past weekend.  Until next time, this is Chris and I’ll see you at the movies (but not if they continue that annoying blue tint thing).