Movie review: 'A Good Day to Die Hard'

05:00 AM, Feb 16, 2013

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, right, and Jai Courtney as his son Jack in 'A Good Day to Die Hard.' (Frank Masi/The Associated Press)/

Written By Christy Lemire | Associated Press

It’s supposed to be a parody of itself, right? That’s the only way to explain the ridiculously over-the-top, repetitively numbing fifth film in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard.

John McClane used to be a cowboy. Now, he’s a cartoon character — specifically, Wile E. Coyote, given how many times he should be seriously injured and/or killed in this movie. He’s shot at, involved in several serious car accidents, crashes through glass windows and ceilings and plummets through floor after floor of high-rise scaffolding. The most he suffers is a scratch here and there, and then he’s ready to pop back up again with a bemused twinkle in his eye and a wry quip.

Part of the charm of this character, which was crucial in defining Bruce Willis’ career, was the regular-guy, Reagan-era resourcefulness he represented; now, he’s weirdly superhuman.

A Good Day to Die Hard is pointless and joyless, a barrage of noise and chaos, an onslaught of destruction without the slightest mention of consequence. But the most obnoxious element of all in Skip Woods and Jason Keller’s script may be the hastily wedged-in father-son feel-goodery that occurs in the midst of all this madness. You see, Willis’ unstoppable New York cop has traveled to Moscow to track down his bitter, estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), whom he believes to be in some sort of criminal trouble. It turns out that Jack is actually a spy working undercover to protect a government whistleblower named Komarov (Sebastian Koch), and Dad has arrived just in time to ruin his mission.

So now the two McClanes must team up to keep Komarov from being kidnapped by generically menacing Russian bad guys. McClane picks up whatever weapon is nearby and solves every problem that comes their way, but he also finds time to nag his son for calling him “John” instead of “Dad.” Whether this is intended as comic relief in the heat of the moment or genuine sentiment, it clangs and feels too cute.