To its credit, the Die Hard series has lived up to its name.
Many movie franchises barely make it beyond two instalments. Those that make it to their third or even fourth chapter invariably end up a little shaky by that stage.
But the adventures of New York cop John McClane, who inevitably finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up dispensing snarky wisecracks and .45 calibre lead poisoning to a variety of villains, has kept on keeping on.
Until now, that is. With the fifth Die Hard film, the franchise has well and truly flatlined.
A Good Day to Die Hard barely passes muster as a run-of-the-mill action movie, let alone as a sequel to one of the most thrilling, involving, tremendously-made and flat-out entertaining action movies of all time.
Indeed, it has more in common with cash-grabs like Taken 2 than anything else. It’s a dull, uninspired story punctuated by lacklustre scenes of violence and mayhem and distinguished (or undistinguished) by flavourless dialogue and minimal character development.
And at the core of it all is a thoroughly bored, verging on contemptuous, performance by Bruce Willis, who in one fell swoop erases all the goodwill he accrued with his committed, nuanced work in last year’s Looper and Moonrise Kingdom.
A Good Day to Die Hard’s McClane is a shadow of the brash, ballsy, infuriating and instantly likeable character from the first few movies, with Willis now displaying all the enthusiasm of a burnt-out rock star reduced to fronting a tacky cover band churning out limp versions of his golden oldies.
This new movie attempts to pass the torch in some way, as McClane travels to Moscow to rescue and hopefully reconnect with his supposedly wayward son Jack (capable Australian actor Jai Courtney, seemingly cast for his bullet-headed Willis resemblance), who’s been arrested for murder.
But guess what? Jack’s not a murderer or a screw-up at all! He’s a tough-as-nails CIA operative tasked with protecting some political prisoner who’s the target of a ruthless power-broker and zzzzzz…
Yes, it’s boring. And it gets even more so when father and son – who rub each other the wrong way because only because, hey, they’re so much alike – team up to blow away every baddie in Russia.
Things blow up. People get shot. Bruce Willis says that line that everyone expects him to say. That’s A Good Day to Die Hard in a nutshell. Revisit the original. Hell, revisit Die Hard 4.0. Even that’s better than this shit.