out of Five
Running time: 98
Watchable, decently paced action flick, enlivened by strong performances from both Willis and Courtney and some impressive stunt work, though there's no compelling reason for it to be a Die Hard film and would work just as well as a standalone thriller.
What's it all about?
Directed by John Moore, A Good Day To Die Hard is the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise and sees New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) heading to Russia in order to help out his recently arrested son Jack (glimpsed in a family photo in the first film), played by Jai Courtney (Spartacus: Blood and Sand). However, when he arrives, he discovers Jack is secretly working for the CIA and is charged with getting political criminal Komarov (Sebastian Koch) out of the country.
Unfortunately, McClane's arrival (midway through an explosive courthouse escape) screws up a planned extraction by the CIA, so McClane and Jack have to keep Komarov out of the reach of shady underworld forces long enough for him to retrieve a file with information on dodgy politico Chagarin (Sergey Kolesnikov).
Willis proves that he can still cut it in the action-and-wisecracks department and thankfully the ‘I'm getting too old for this shit’ comments are kept to an acceptable minimum. Similarly, Courtney is excellent as Jack (or John McClane Jnr, should the franchise ever decide to pass on the torch), generating likeable chemistry with Willis and holding his own in the action stakes. There's also strong support from Sebastian Koch, while Radivoje Bukvic provides colourful villainy (‘I could have been a dancer...’) as Alik, the leader of the pursuing underground types.
Die Hard 4.0 upped the stakes in the ridiculous stunts department (e.g. McClane taking out a helicopter with a police car), so the fifth instalment has a fair amount to live up to, but it nonetheless pulls off a helicopter-based climax that is suitably jaw-dropping as well as an entertaining multi-vehicle chase sequence. On top of that, Moore keeps the action moving at a decent pace throughout and the dialogue veers between cheesy and acceptable, even if none of the trademarked wisecracks really hit home (that said, there's a nice scene between McClane and Komarov where they bond over their grown-up children).
The main problem with the film is that there's no compelling reason for it to be a Die Hard movie and it would have worked just as well as a standalone action thriller. Part of this is because McClane is now a gun-toting supercop rather than a resourceful, scrappy but vulnerable troublemaker caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, it's worth pointing out that the film has been edited down to receive a 12A rating, though at least the hatchet job isn't as obvious and distracting as it was with Taken 2.
A Good Day To Die Hard is an entirely watchable thriller, enlivened by decent action sequences and strong performances from Courtney and Willis.
A Good Day to Die Hard (12A)