FILM REVIEW: A Good Day to Die Hard (12A)

Halfway through this outlandish fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise, a gun-toting Russian henchman (Radivoje Bukvic) scolds John McClane (Bruce Willis) for recklessness in the face of certain death.

“So arrogant,” sneers the East European underling, “it’s not 1986, you know!”

It’s certainly not, despite the Cold War stereotypes that perpetuate Skip Woods’s shambolic script, and Willis and his collaborators should remember that before they plough ahead with a proposed sixth film.

A Good Day To Die Hard is a high-speed tour down Memory McClane that cynically exploits our nostalgia for one of modern cinema’s most tenacious action heroes.

It’s been 25 years since Willis’s wisecracking cop stormed the Nakatomi Plaza to rescue his wife from German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in the original Die Hard.

Since then, McClane has demolished an airport, played deadly games with Gruber’s psychotic brother and hacked down a gang of cyber terrorists in the company of his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

For this latest assignment, estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) enters the cinematic fray, joining the old man on a testosterone-fuelled romp through Moscow.

There’s no art, creativity or invention in John Moore’s overblown sequel; no subtlety or emotion, even with the strained father-son relationship at the heart of Woods’s screenplay.

Just outrageous set pieces which defy the laws of physics, deafening explosions that shake the entire cinema and Willis delivering his Yippee-ki-yay catchphrase with a weariness we share by the end credits.

The perfunctory plot dispatches McClane to the gridlocked Russian capital to visit his son Jack, who has been arrested for murder.

No sooner has John strutted into Moscow than terrorists blow up the courthouse with the intention of kidnapping high-profile prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), who holds vital information that could bring down corrupt Russian politician Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov).

As the dust settles, McClane sees his son leading Komarov to safety with gun-toting assassins in hot pursuit.

John gives chase in the first of several implausible action sequences, and learns that Jack is a CIA hotshot on a top-secret mission to protect Komarov and his dossier of evidence.

“He’s got the goods to stop Chagarin and we need that to happen,” growls the blood-spattered son.

So John takes up arms alongside his boy, sprinting through gaping plot holes that lead to a ridiculous revelation about the theft of weapons-grade uranium from Chernobyl.

A Good Day To Die Hard is a soulless money-machine exercise.

The plot is crudely bolted together, sandwiching pyrotechnics between fractious father-son bonding.

There’s no palpable screen chemistry between Willis and Courtney, which undermines the inevitable reconciliation of their two characters.

Pithy one-liners are noticeably thin on the ground and while stunts are undoubtedly bigger than previous films, they are certainly not better, including a crunching car chase and a laughable high-rise showdown with a helicopter gunship.

This is not a good day for Die Hard.


Released: February 14 (UK & Ireland), 98 mins