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Bad Movie Tuesday: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) and the death of a franchise

February 19, 2013

The Hof, your regular Bad Movie Tuesday writer, is off doing important Hofsy things.  So, as the acting interim CEO of MoviesFilmsandFlix, I am proud deliver this week’s regrettable review…

MY CALL:  Apathy is to blame for the death of this franchise.  There was too little humor, too many frustrating father-son issues, and no sense of adventure.  I simply didn’t care.  [D]  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEADLive Free or Die Hard (2007).

Die Hard (1988) was epic.  It was epic in ’88 and it’s still epic.  Bruce Willis (Looper, The Expendables 2) had mastered the unlikely hero having a really bad day and making funny comments about it.  Die Hard II (1990) was a lot of fun, but seemed to be suffer a hick-up in the success of the franchise.  It was followed up by the even more fun and adventurous Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995).  Then climbing back to epic status was Live Free or Die Hard (2007).  Out of these four Die Hards, why did part II stand out as inferior?  The answer is simple.  Great villains.

Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) and Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant); these villains were charismatic scene-stealers.  These silver-tongued, dapper devils were perfect complements to John McClane’s cynical, rough and bloodied New York cop whose crumbling life always seems to eclipse his concern of these villains’ menace.

This latest Die Hard installment had no such slick villain.  As Alik, Radivoje Bukvic (Taken) tries very hard to deliver audiences with a slick, smooth-talking, calm bad guy.  The problem is that he’s not the bad guy–but simply a bad guy.  And his clichés are too over the top for middle management bad guy support staff.  Then there was Yuliya Snigir (as Irina), a gorgeous and provocative creature who we were hoping would be some super-spy that could stand up to Maggie Q’s performance in Live Free or Die Hard.  Sadly, she delivered very little and we saw the best of her undressing during the movie trailer.

The story brings John McClane to Russia, where his CIA spy son Jack has gotten himself into trouble.  Of course, things get complicated and John helps Jack with his mission to get an important man with some nuclear secrets to the United States.
They look bored.  I feel their pain.

The plot pulls a couple of bait-and-switch routines keeping us guessing who’s on whose side, whose good and whose bad, and who’s the bad guy in charge.  With almost no build-up staging these transitions, I felt completely apathetic.  It pains me to say that I cared equally little about John McClane’s relationship with his son (Jai Courtney; Jack Reacher).

The action was fantastic and nearly constant.  Early in the movie there is an incredibly long and destructive chase scene loaded with mayhem.  Towards the end, guns and helicopters steal the show.  There is no question that a lot of thought (and millions of dollars) went into these action sequences.  The downside was that since I didn’t really know who the McClanes were up against or why, it resulted in less excitement.  I found myself watching some of the most impressive action sequences I’ve seen in years and I hardly cared, smiled, yelled when something crazy happened…nothing.  Just more apathy.

I didn’t even get to enjoy the classic John McClane character!  His lines are overly dominated by frustrating family dysfunction with his son.  Their terrible relationship is shoved down our throats and the writers couldn’t get through five lines of dialogue without reminding us of it with another unfunny jab.  This made little room for classic, hilarious McClane peevishness directed at the bad guy…who was the bad guy in this movie again?  Oh, right, you hardly know until the end during a ho-hum revelation.
Remember this?  THIS was funny!

In the end we never have the opportunity to enjoy the villain, Bruce Willis delivers an aging McClane whose family issues have replaced funny lines, and Jai Courtney was more likable as the bad guy in Jack Reacher than he was as the good guy in this. Triple-fail!

Skip this.

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