Director: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Written by: Skip Woods and (certain original characters) Roderick Thorp
Running Time: 97 mins
Release date: 14th February 2013
It’s 25 years since John McClane first donned that grubby vest and single-handledly beat Alan Rickman in Nakatomi Plaza. Now we have the fifth film in the series, with the most dubious title (even worse that Live Free or Die Hard, the US title for Die Hard 4.0…which is bad enough) and to honest, it’s the worst of the lot. A mess of a film, you could say.
John McClane has been trying to find out where his estranged son John (Jack) McClane Jr is. Having been arrested in Moscow, John heads off to Russia only to find Jack escaping from a court hearing with fellow convict, Komarov, in tow. John soon discovers that his son is a CIA agent and his captive companion has a file that could bring down the government. Dodging the bullets of a top politician’s henchmen, they have to find the file but things are worse than that, even in the relationship of the father and son.
It’s hard to review this film without making comparisons to the original, as it really set the benchmark for all action films to follow. What made Die Hard so good was terrific direction, taut editing and a hero that you never knew would survive. There was always a sense of peril running through it. All of those elements are gone from number 5. The direction is sloppy, the editing is lacklustre and John McClane, who was once an ordinary cop in the wrong place at the wrong time, might as well be wearing a cape with a big S on it. No matter what is thrown at him, he just gets up, brushes himself down and carries on.
Director John Moore, who isn’t a total stranger of the genre, he made Max Payne and Behind Enemy Lines, thinks that by constantly zooming in and out during an action scene will make it all the more interesting. It doesn’t. In fact, during the overlong car chase, you spend most of the time trying to work out exactly what is going on. I’m all in favour for using real stunt men for car chases but please, let us enjoy their work. The music video editing also doesn’t help, making most of the big set pieces totally incoherent.
The script is also a mess. It relies far too much in long scenes in which the McClane boys bicker and moan about each other, mainly that big daddy McClane was a bad and disappointing father and that little McClane never understood him. This goes on and on and on, sometimes slightly different, others almost identical. John McClane’s character has never been a great father or husband but its never been pointed out so often in a film that only lasts 97 minutes long. It slows everything else down to a grinding halt.
So that leaves the rest of the film. Bruce Willis has been playing McClane for so long now, he doesn’t have to do much anymore but turn up. Jai Courtney is fine as McClane Jr but he isn’t given enough to work with apart from being able to fire a gun and moan at his dad. Then we have the baddies, all cut-outs from the Russian baddies Handbook. No, eating a carrot while interrogating doesn’t make you interesting.
The other thing that doesn’t help this film is the classification. In the wisdom of 20th Century Fox, they want as many people to come and see this mess as possible, so what is obviously a 15 certificate, they went to the BBFC and got advise in how to cut the film. I say cut, it’s more like hacked. Even the most famous catchphrase of recent years is reduced to a mumble, all so that youngsters can go and enjoy seeing a middle aged man thrown through a window from a truck and get up without a scratch.
I love Die Hard. I can tolerate Die Hard 2. Die Hard With A Vengeance was bundles of fun and Die Hard 4.0 was silly but bearable. This entry is a bit of a bore and I think the title should be…A Good Day To Stop It Now.