Susan Granger’s review of “A Good Day to Die Hard” (20th Century-Fox)
Bruce Willis is back for the fifth time as durable New York Detective John McClane, who travels to Moscow to help his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who disappeared a while ago after an argument and has been charged with the murder of a Russian mobster. To his amazement, John discovers that Jack is actually a CIA agent…”the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey.” Jack is working undercover, trying to protect a government whistle-blower, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a dissident nuclear scientist with an attractive daughter, Irina (Yuliya Snigir). That results in father and son teaming up to get Komarov and Irina to safety, thwart ambitious Defense Minister Chaganin (Sergei Kolesnikov) and derail the sinister scheme for a potentially disastrous crime in the ill-fated city of Chernobyl, where both Komarov and Chaganin worked at the time of the catastrophic reactor meltdown.
Working from a dreadful, dumbed-down script by Skip Woods (“Swordfish,” “The A-Team”), heavy-handed director John Moore (“Max Payne” and “The Omen” remake) hasn’t a chance. Lacking any semblance of coherence, the production focuses on a massive car chase, filmed on Moscow’s Garden Ring and by a 190-person stunt unit in Budapest, and culminates in hijinks aboard the “Miss Belarus,” a huge, 25-ton helicopter. Be thankful the 97-minute running time is mercifully short since everything’s augmented by Marco Beltrami’s deafening score.
The first quarter of 2013 has seen the cinematic return of macho action geezers Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and now Bruce Willis. While Willis is still going strong and supposedly game for a sixth John McClane incarnation, Australian actor Jai Courtney, who played the shooter in “Jack Reacher,” defines bland.
There’s no question that this is the worst segment in the “Die Hard” franchise which began in 1988, but it’s also a given that this kind of mindless mayhem makes big money in the overseas market.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is a terrible 2. A good day – it isn’t. To quote John McClane: “Something stinks.”