Discussion Points: "A Good Day to Die Hard"

Let's get this right out, A Good Day to Die Hard is pretty bad. This is the first Die Hard sequel that I didn’t enjoy in some part. I think I enjoy Die Hard 2 more than most, I don't really like Die Hard with a Vengeance, but it has its moments. Live Free or Die Hard is fun to the point of getting silly; it probably should have just been an action movie outside of the franchise. A Good Day to Die Hard takes all of the remaining goodwill for this series and destroys it in 90 minutes. 

Warning: This is a post-viewing discussion of A Good Day to Die Hard. If you haven't seen it yet (good for you), turn back now.

I don't know where start with this movie. I don't feel like the creators respected our time. I’m sure the intentions of the cast and crew were good, but this didn’t work. There were so many issues with this movie. I can do big stupid action, but this film is beyond that. A Good Day to Die Hard simply doesn’t live up to any of its predecessors.

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I hate to trash movies. It seems like just about every movie has an audience, and there is something to like in most of what we see. Over-the-top escapist fun can be very enjoyable, such as Fast Five. This Die Hard film feels more like an insult to its audience. I can imagine a meeting with some studio execs where they dismissed the problems with this movie because Die Hard fans will show up for anything. I can hear it now: “Let’s have John McClane fight terrorists in…Russia! It’ll be cheap to shoot, we get a few crazy people in beards, make sure to include some explosions, throw in a few double-crosses…. It’ll be gold!”

Here are a few of the problems I see with the movie:

  • The opening sequence sets up so little and confused the audience. Perhaps I missed something subtle going on, but nothing else in this movie is subtle.
  • This is the premise: The CIA sends John McClane’s son undercover into Russia, who then possibly kills a guy in order to get arrested. Once arrested, he offers to commit perjury in order to be present at the trial of an arrested scientist who has evidence on the bad Russian leader. Then, at the opportune time, he will escape with said scientist just as the bad Russian leader sends in people to kidnap the same scientist. Meanwhile, the CIA did not anticipate that their agent’s family would be concerned if they heard that their son/brother was in trouble. So when their agent’s father travels to Russia on a commercial airline and happens to stand at the right intersection at the time of the escape, his five minute delay causes the entire mission to fail and make extraction impossible…. I’m guessing that this played out better in preproduction.
  • I haven't seen a car chase that was so hard to understand who-was-who and what-was-what since the Transformers series.
  • John McClane was just given such terrible one-liners. I can only remember people laughing once throughout the entire movie.
  • Why would anyone hide something in a hotel ballroom? It’s often full of people, not easily accessible, and hotels often remodel and make improvements. That seems like a truly terrible hiding place.
  • We're made to think that John McClane is deep when they stop the movie so that dad can say "I love you” before the father and son head into battle. Unfortunately, all I could think about is that his son had just explained that the person they were trying to save would be likely be dead by the time they reached the vault. They didn’t have time for the heart-to-heart talk. That long dive to Chernobyl might have been the better opportunity.
  • Is the radiation harmful or not? Are John and his son going to suffer from radiation sickness because they didn’t wear suits, or did that vacuum remove all of it before they entered the building?
  • How is it okay for Jack to just throw the villain into a helicopter blade? I know secret agents have a license to kill and all, but doesn't the CIA still want to talk to potential assets or witnesses?
  • Why is the swimming pool in Chernobyl relatively clean? As explained, it’s not harmful because it’s full of rainwater. That means a few decades of rainwater is enough to fill it with water clean enough to see though, break a fall, and protect someone from explosions.  Nevermind, John didn’t need to fall in the pool anyway. He was fine with landing on the surrounding concrete. I know that McClanes have the skeletal structure of Wolverine, but this is ridiculous.
  • I know that John McClane and his estranged wife Holly don't get along, but why wasn't she at the airport when her son came home? It's obvious that her sister was also worried, so you would think that his mom would've been filled in.
  • If there's any message to take away from this movie, I'm guessing that it may be that John McClane is a father and that you should have respect for your father.

It's really hard to think of any redeeming qualities of this movie. There are a few fun moments of action, but they don’t happen often enough. I don't want to call this movie terrible, but it just seems so contrived. The big bad guy is barely even seen interacting with any other character. Guns and cars just show up whenever they're needed. In ways this movie was like playing a video game with god-mode on. None of the good guys got hurt, and they had infinite ammunition and supplies. There was no way to lose.

Aside from money, there really isn't a reason to continue this franchise. The character John McClane isn't interesting. We're now sticking him in different types of movies, but he's not a complex character. He’s not particularly smart or special; nor is he the everyman that we first met. I like Bruce Willis, I like Die Hard, but it's time to let this series end. Let Bruce Willis make other action movies that have a chance to be as good as our original adventure with John McClane.