“A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD” My rating: D (Opening wide on Feb. 15)
97 minutes | MPAA rating: R
“A Good Day to Die Hard” hits the trifecta.
Actually, I was looking forward to the latest in the perennial series about NYC cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) who seems always to find himself in over his head with one crisis or another.
His last outing, 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard,“ was a superior action film, thanks to the effective direction of Len Wiseman (of the “Underworld” franchise).
But “A Good Day…” finds the suddenly-ham-fisted John Moore in charge, and the thing is so goshawful from the first frame that I was tempted to get up after 10 minutes and call it a night. Alas, professional responsibility kept me seated.
At least this “Die Hard” is relatively short.
Skip Woods’ screenplay (his previous credits include the execrable “A-Team” and the barely better “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) begins with John McClane saying goodbye to his daughter at an airport. Apparently his estranged son Jack has gotten into some legal problems in Russia.
Once in Moscow John witnesses a terrorist attack on a courtroom where Jack (Aussie actor Jai Courtney) and the billionaire Russian dissident Komarov (Sebastian Koch), are on trial. Turns out that far from being a criminal, Jack is a CIA agent assigned to rescue Komarov from the inside. (Why Komarov is important to the US is never explained. Get used to it.)
Anyway, John, Jack and the billionaire are on the run through Moscow. Car chases. Explosions. Helicopters spraying machinegun fire. The usual.
They hook up with the billionaire’s beautiful daughter (Yuliya Snigir), but she is not what she seems. For that matter, hardly anybody is what they seem.
Anyway, the whole thing ends up in the abandoned and still-radioactive city of Chernobyl, where John and Jack, having put their father/son issues on the back burner, get down to killing lots of bad guys and rescuing a load of weapons-grade plutonium.
For all the action on display in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the film isn’t particularly exciting, mostly because the characters are afterthoughts mouthing clichés.
Willis looks utterly bored and Courtney (of Starz’ “Spartacus” series) comes off as an uninhabited cypher. Even the villains are pretty blah, although Rasha Bukvic has a few satisfyingly sadistic moments as the guy in charge of the big jailbreak.
Director Moore has a couple of acceptable films on his resume (“Behind Enemy Lines” and the remake of “Flight of the Phoenix”) but “A Good Day…” feels as if it were doomed from inception.
This would be a good day for the “Die Hard” series to end.
| Robert W. Butler