*This review contains spoiled memories.

Semi-truthful poster: The Kremlin is not featured in this movie. However all the characters are 2D.

The latest installment in the Die Hard franchise is a complete disaster from start to finish, a delirious cocktail of insulting, lazy, stupid, pitiable and boring. It is, as Hitchcock would say, stillborn.

What’s wrong with A Bad Day for Die Hard? Well, to begin with, Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis doesn’t care anymore. Bruce Willis isn’t playing John McClane anymore because John McClane is full of little ticks and characterful movements. He’s got all these cool little facial expressions on his rather expressive face. He’s a very physical action hero, always running around, diving across tables and crawling through air-ducts. In A Good Day To Die Hard Bruce Willis plays a man who just stands about and smirks. Sometimes he jogs. 

The moment when I truly realised that Willis just didn’t care anymore was early in the film when he almost gets run over by his enormous meat son, Jack (Jai Courtney). John McClane would be FURIOUS by the fact his enormous meat son had almost run him over in a van, then dissed him and almost run him over again when driving away. Willis however just seems vaguely aware there are some large objects moving around him and seems confused by them, and it’s kind of upsetting to see this confused 57 year old man, without the strength to even raise his arms in alarm, stood in the middle of this dangerous situation.

Tosser

Tosser

Now Willis just plays a plodding, confused, 57 year old mobile weapons turret. When the the Bad Guys storm his enormous meat son’s CIA base (because his enormous meat son has grown up to be some kind of super spy, which at least reflects the every-man quality we can identify with from the Die Hard films of yore) everyone drops to the floor except Confused Willis. Confused Willis instead grabs a huge machine gun and just stands there, trying to empty his weapon (in vain, as it has the Unlimited Ammo cheat on) into the mindless Bad Guys who happily all run directly into his line of fire, despite having seen 30 of their comrades blown away by doing just what they are about to do. If this was a video game Bruce Willis would be playing the part of the gun turret you pick up, move around , then put back down to shoot any Bad Guys within 40 feet. Also this game has terrible Bad Buy AI, so they make a habit of just running at that gun turret’s gun.

I mean, it’s fine if you stand there and unload into baddies if you’re Rambo. That’s Rambo’s thing. It’s great to see Rambo do that. But this is meant to be John ‘window smashing on the end of a fire hose’ McClane.

Tosser

Tosser

This isn’t where the video game comparisons end. The story-line goes like this: Exposition – meet partner – action – exposition – action – exposition – action – twist you saw a mile off – action – action – ending FMV. If this was a game that came out on the Playstation 1 then it would receive average scores for it’s storyline, but some of that would be goodwill because it gives a reason for the co-op mode. Unfortunately this is a movie.

The story is so mindblowingly stupid and simple that I actually failed to understand it. It was like trying to have a conversation with a caveman. I found myself struggling to put it all together, thinking “there must have been a bit where they gave him more motivation, it must’ve been a subtlety I missed” and “there has to be a reason why the Big Bad Guy carried off that contrived plan he did, instead of just making things easy for himself.” But no, crap is just included in the story to fill up time.

Now Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a terrible movie. I’m sorry to break that to some people, but it is. There’s a set-up, a series of duels between non-characters, then it ends. But A Good Day To Die Hard is worse. While it actually contains a twist in the plot and the action scenes differ, it doesn’t have any of the pretty visuals to fall back on. It’s just a parade of action scenes with little or no reason and motivation behind them. Like Scott Pilgrim the undeviating action just becomes dull, repetitive and tiresome.

Co-op tossers

Co-op tossers

I would like to say that like the fifth Rocky film, this might be a secret, slow-burning gift in disguise and be the impetus behind a truly great comeback for the franchise a decade later like the awesome Rocky Balboa. But it would be an insult to Rocky V to compare this dreck to it. At least Sylvester Stallone gave a damn about Rock V.

There’s no logic to the action scenes either. I don’t know whether writer Skip Woods or director John Moore were just ignorant, stupid or deliberately offensive, but they have a very bizarre idea of how Moscow might react to devastating terrorist attacks. Massive, incredibly destructive car chase through Moscow? No police anywhere to be seen. Gun fights raging across the city? No police response. A heavily armed helicopter gunship devastates a tower-block? Still no police response, no city lock down, no jet fighters scrambled. Nothing. That’s not to mention the fact that Confused Turret Willis has just had a gunfight with some Bad Guys, one of whom, in literally seconds, manages to teleport over to the helicopter on the roof of another building a block away.

It was just insulting me moment after moment. It was a literal whoring of the Die Hard name; “We’ve hooked you in with the name and the character, now we’re going to fling cinematic shit at you for 97 minutes because for some reason we’re behaving like the film-making equivalent of monkeys.”

Have I mentioned the characters? No. But there there are no characters. There are, however, cardboard cut-outs who do things.

  • Firstly, there is Confused Turret Willis. He plods around shooting things, he is occasionally sarcastic and makes poorly judged jokes about a real life Russian disaster.
  • Then there is Jai Courtney who plays Enormous Meat Son. We’re told he is a super spy, although we don’t see much of that except for a bit where he nicks a car.
  • Slick Bad Guy is played by Radivoje Bukvić. He wears a nice suit, does a dance at one bit and eats raw carrots. He’s a product of throwing as many notable traits into a character as possible to can make him as interesting as possible in a short amount of time.
  • Yuliya Snigir plays the Fit Baddie. She is one of those female baddies from the 90s who you would describe to your friends as fit, because it was the 90s, you were 14 and she takes her clothes off at one point for no reason. You know the kind: “yeah, she’s a strong female because she’s a villain and takes no shit, she’s a feminist character”, but she is not because she takes her clothes off at one point for no reason and exists purely to be the Fit Baddie.
  • Beard Man (Sebastian Koch) has a beard. He is the pivot of the twist you can see coming a mile off. His sole characteristics are his Russian accent and his beard.
  • Then there are the Bad Guys. I’ve decided to call these faceless henchmen Bad Guys as opposed to bad guys as they have almost the same amount of character as the above.

There are also some other people who get a line and then get shot to death with bulging, obvious squibs.

Tosser, tosser, tosser

Tosser, tosser, tosser

Lets see, what else did I hate about it?

Erm…just everything really.

The direction is outdated and very poor. It does that thing where it zooms in really fast and slows down, and that thing where it goes at normal speed, then slows down, then speeds up again like in Die Another Day, except that was kind of acceptable because it was 2002 and Die Another Day is great.

The editing is bobar, its one of those jobs where cuts makes you suddenly think “whoah, where the hell are we now?” and you have to get your bearings again to work out where we are, but by then you’re across four rooftops on a bastard helicopter that’s invisible to Russians.

Skip Woods is a crap writer and Bruce Willis is his power-up. Everything that comes out of Confused Turret Willis’ mouth sounds like the product of artists trying to emulate John McClane but have no idea what they’re doing. Which is really frigging weird considering one of those artists has been John McClane in four previous films since 1988.

The other character’s dialogue has been written like the film-makers are aware audio should come out of their mouth, and that it should serve a purpose, so they’ve just copied and pasted parts of the initial treatment into the script and written boring names above it.

Tosseress

Tosseress

Oh, and halfway through the film becomes so generic, so lacking in ideas, it actually starts eating itself. The ending is so brain-dead and unaware of anything that it actually thinks 20 minutes later is an acceptable length of time to have another massive set-piece featuring a(/the same) massive helicopter gunship shooting up a (different, to be fair) building.

“Hey John, hey Skip, how is this different from the last helicopter thing 20 pages ago?”
“Well you see Mr. th Century Fox, it is different because A) It is the finale.”
“And that’s why it’s different?”
“Okay, we’ll make it shit a Jeep so hard it falls over.”
“Oh excellent, thank you”.

And that's the plot of the film.

And that’s the plot of the film.

A Good Day To Die Hard is worse than the worst kind of film-making. It’s kind of insulting to Russians, unless there really is no government there. It makes absolutely no sense. The performances are diarrhea. The writing is an atrocity. It actually consumes itself it’s so bereft of ideas. The editing actually bends space and time by making 97 minutes feel like 3 hours. Its stylistically over a decade old. Why would you consume poo? Bruce is too lazy to act. Its pimping a very much loved franchise and making it do things it would be thoroughly, thoroughly ashamed of. It’s prostituting you Die Hard, taking your money, then pelting you with feces.

By RJ Bayley.

 

Think A Good Day To Die Hard is a good day for Die Hard? Get out.

You can follow RJ Bayley on Twitter: @Chunder_Thunder
Or you can follow Goats in the Machine directly for updates:
 @GoatsinMachine

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