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A Good Day to Die Hard

Joyless performances make for a bad day for moviegoers

You’ll be scowling, too, after putting down good money for A Good Day to Die Hard.

As one who thinks Die Hard one of the best action films ever, I must with a heavy heart urge all fans of John McClane to skip this movie.
    In 1988, off-duty cop John McClane (Bruce Willis: Looper) walked into an office Christmas party and became a terrorist-killing legend. Twenty-five years later, McClane has dispatched baddies in office buildings, airports, the burroughs of New York and the streets of D.C.
    The fatigue is starting to show.
    A Good Day to Die Hard follows our beleaguered action hero to Russia, a journey that, much like this movie would have been more topical and interesting in the 1980s.
    His son Jack (Jai Courtney: Jack Reacher) has had a little trouble in Moscow. Long estranged, McClane goes to see Jack before he’s sentenced.
    He arrives at the courthouse as Jack orchestrates an impressive jailbreak. Turns out Jack isn’t a bad seed; he’s a deep cover CIA operative hoping to turn a fellow prisoner into one of our government’s biggest assets. John is willing to help, but Jack is still angry with his father for an unhappy childhood. When the mission goes south, Jack has no choice but to ask his dad for help.
    No one appears to have cared about the quality of the production. The direction is uninteresting, with action sequences seemingly snatched straight from other films. The script is painful with stale lines like “you were never there for me dad!”
    The plot makes no sense, even by action-movie standards. So much emphasis is put on the fractured relationship between father and son that you expect an emotional explanation of what happened. You won’t get it, because emotions are for wimps.
    Worst are joyless performances from Willis and Courtney. Courtney is a charm vacuum who can’t seem to do anything but scrunch his eyebrows and flex his pects. It’s a shame that McClane’s only boy didn’t inherit his father’s charisma.
    As for Willis, one wonders if he was a hostage on the set. He sleepwalks through his scenes, barely bothering a jog as he dodges bullets. Once a dirt-smeared everyman who barely survived his encounters with German terrorists, McClane is now a bland action hero who can survive two major car crashes without a scratch and spit out catchphrases. His dead-eyed performance is so perfunctory that you can practically see him calculating how many house payments this movie will make. Willis is capable of better — he starred in two great films last year, Moonrise Kingdom and Looper — so it’s especially disappointing to see him falter in the role that made him a star.
    By the time the McClane boys barreled into the radioactive bowels of Chernobyl without hazmat gear, this critic ran out of good will. Apparently good old American machismo repels radiation poisoning.
    If you’re set on enjoying action-movie nostalgia with a past-his-prime star, I suggest The Last Stand. At least Schwarzenegger enjoys his movies and want you to as well.

Terrible Action • R • 97 mins.