February 22, 2013
“Just try, just try,” Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) says to her father, “not to make an even bigger mess of things.” Her dad — John McClane (Bruce Willis), hard-nosed NYPD detective — is flying to Russia where his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is in prison, charged with a serious crime. What John doesn’t know (but we do) is that son Jack is an undercover CIA agent, whose mission is to escape Russian police and underworld thugs with government whistle-blower Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch). That’s the setup for this noisy, brainless action flick.
Will John screw up son Jack’s CIA mission? Do dad and son reconcile? What’s Komarov’s game? How much do you care? If you’re like me, not much.
Bruce Willis — 25 years later (not counting three sequels) — revisits police detective John McClane, his character in the first “Die Hard” (1988). Now he’s in Russia — “vacationing,” as he says. He’s packing only a paperback guide book and remnants of his fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude. He wants to get his son out of prison, bond with him and resolve old issues, apologizing for being an absent father. “I thought working all the time was good,” John says, “but it didn’t help at all.” Jai Courtney is CIA-agent Jack, who doesn’t want his father’s help and can’t bring himself to call his father “dad.” “You’re a world-class screw-up, you know that, John?” he says. Courtney may be a skillful actor, but has few chances here to demonstrate it. We learn little about his character’s back story.
Others in the cast include Sebastian Koch and Yullya Snigir as whistle-blower Yuri Komarov and daughter Irina, and Rasha Bukvic as bad guy Alik. “Do you know what I hate about Americans?” he says. “Everything — especially cowboys.” He eats raw carrots and wants to be a dancer. Pasha D. Lychikoff has a cameo as a singing Moscow cabbie, the only character we care about.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” is a witless action flick, full of sound and visual clutter, signifying nothing. Directed by John Moore, written by Skip Woods, it’s a series of loosely connected set pieces — an interminable car chase, the usual high-body-count shoot-‘em-ups, with a heavily-armed helicopter and massive explosions in the ruins of Chernobyl at the end. The story line is full of red herrings and makes no discernible sense. “Unbelievable, unbelievable!” says Jack. I agree.
Rated R for violence and language, “Good Day/Die Hard” runs a long 110 minutes. “One of these days,” says John to son Jack, “we’ll have a long talk.” Not here; too much noise. If you ask me, I’d watch the original “Die Hard” instead. Don’t waste your time on this one.
“A Good Day to Die Hard”
Is first on my list
Of brainless action flicks
I wish I had missed.