Monday, February 25, 2013

Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

I felt genuinely bad not being able to see Bullet to the Head in the theater - it came and went so fast here in Boston I literally had no time to watch it - so I decided I wouldn't make that same mistake with the latest Die Hard movie. I saw it this Sunday at a matinee, and although the weather was kinda nasty out, I was still surprised that there were all told about six of us in a theater that could probably seat 300 people. Maybe it was a sign...

So, believe me when I say, if you've seen the trailer, you know most of the plot. McLane goes to Moscow to see his son Jack, who's being tried for shooting some Russian dude. The setup of the Russians is so clumsily handled that you don't really know what the deal is with their relationships, we just know that one Russian wants another Russian dead.

Anyhow, McLane takes a trip to Moscow and gets to the courthouse just as bad guys blow a hole in the side of the building and go in, ostensibly to kill Jack and some other Russian dude who's old and wears glasses. He knows about some "file" or something...I dunno. McLane of course just happens to be right there, and he gets into this running chase with his son, who is just pissed off and annoyed that his dad is there. This confuses McLane, who then steals some big-ass Russian truck and goes chasing after Jack and some other Russians in a bigger-ass Russian armored truck. They drive through Moscow destroying about half the city and two-thirds of the cars in Russia.

From here, McLane finds out his son works for the CIA, kills a bunch of bad guys, and proves that he's now become Wolverine, because he is essentially indestructible. In the original Die Hard, McLane is shown as being human, albeit tough as old boot leather, but he gets shot, his feet cut up, and by the end of the movie he's a bleeding, limping mess. In AGDTDH, there is literally nothing that can be done to him that elicits more than a grunt of pain, never mind that he gets into not one, but two incredibly violent car crashes while not even wearing a seat belt, he's constantly falling and breaking things with his body (wooden planks, plate glass widows, furniture, etc.) and it doesn't phase him in the slightest. A few cuts and scratches, nothing more. The friggin' Terminator would look worse for wear after everything McLane goes through. Willis is 57 years old - how on earth are we supposed to accept that he's taking this kind of punishment and still moving?

I think what really worked in Die Hard was the fact that McLane was just an everyday cop who wasn't going to quit, thrust into extraordinary circumstances and forced to keep going to save the day. He's now morphed into an extreme caricature of himself, a wise-cracking (The phrase "I'm on vacation!" got old the first time it was used, and it's inaccurate anyway - he's not on vacation really, he's there to see his son go on trial) murder machine that just keeps going no matter what you do to it.

Overall it was entertaining fun, but I think the story needed a far better plot - the original movie is still one of the best action-capers around - and a more reasonable depiction of McLane as a guy closing in on retirement age. Even Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand made it clear that he was "too old for this", and he WAS the Terminator, for cryin' out loud.


Dan O. said...

Great review Jack. The script was very forced, I didn't laugh for a single moment, and John McClane became such an anti-hero here, unlike the previous films.

Stan R. Mitchell said...

I enjoyed it. It was about what I expected: Shitloads of firefights and crashes; plenty of fun.