Movie review: A Good Day To Die Hard

(M) **

Director: John Moore.

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Sergei Kolesnikov.

THIS far into the franchise, there was only the slimmest of possibilities that a fifth Die Hard movie could live up to the trend-setting awesomeness of the original or the surprisingly excellent cat-and-mouse games of number three.

The best we could hope for was that it might match the under-rated fourth entry, or at least the largely forgotten second film.

Sadly, A Good Day To Die Hard aka Die Hard 5 aka Die Hard Vs The Russians is the worst film of the series.

Of all the excuses used to get Bruce Willis to bust out his "yippee-ki-yay" line, this is the flimsiest.

The unnecessarily convoluted plot is nonsensical, the wry wit is diminished, and the film manages to pile in just about every bad action movie cliche you can think of.

The saving grace is Willis, who is always watchable as the chaos-magnet police officer John McClane.

The poor premise sees McClane bound for Russia in search of his estranged son, arriving just in time for McClane Jr's big day in court on murder charges. Obviously, there are shenanigans afoot, but trying to keep up with who's double crossing who is an exercise in futility.

As with the most recent sequels, McClane needs a sidekick, and here it's his son, who is played with a suitable amount of Bruce-ishness by Aussie Jai Courtney. Their back-and-forth banter wavers between tiresome and enjoyable, but it does add a much-needed extra layer to the film that otherwise would have ended up as just another bland straight-to-DVD actioner.

In fact, the words "Die Hard" in the title - and the accompanying massive budget - are the only thing that would have stopped this film from giving a cinema release a miss all together. Without John McClane, this is forgettable. His presence means we get decent performances, larger set pieces, bigger bangs, and splashings of CGI.

Whereas the original Die Hard was an exercise in how to do everything right in an action movie, Die Hard 5 is almost the complete opposite. It features one of the worst examples of a villain "monologuing" when he should be killing, it goes for excess at the expense of sense (the first act car chase is a prime example), and its plot doesn't make any sense.

So is there any reason to see this? There's really only one, and that's Bruce. Even in his autumn years, he's totally watchable as the one-man army with a happy knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Courtney is also pretty good, while some of the set pieces, though mostly insanely over-the-top, are pretty cool, particularly the finale on board a helicopter.

It would be a shame if this is John McClane's final bow, but on the strength of this effort, maybe it's time for him to hang up the machine gun.

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