June 17, 2013

New Disc Review: A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy)

Starring Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Culiya Snigir, Cole Hauser. Directed by John Moore. (2013, 97 min).
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

First of all, there will never be another Die Hard. What Star Wars is to sci-fi, Die Hard is to the action genre. It'll never be topped, and the sooner we can all get over it, the better off we'll be.

Now that the dust has settled, after every hand-wringing critic, internet troll and vengeful fanboy has had their say, maybe we can look at A Good Day to Die Hard a bit more objectively and realize the main thing wrong with this film...it has Die Hard in the title. Had it been called anything else, and Bruce Willis' character given a different name, I'm convinced it would not be such a critical pariah.

But once you stick Die Hard in the title, you automatically raise audience expectations to unreasonable levels. Of course this film doesn't hold a candle to the original, but since no other action film released since 1988 has either, did we really expect it to? Yeah, it's Die Hard in name only, but so were the previous two installments, yet neither Die Hard with a Vengeance nor Live Free or Die Hard have incurred the same level of wrath as this one. Really, the only sequel in the whole franchise that even attempts to replicate the same formula as the original is Die Hard 2, which is arguably the most contrived. But what saved it from universal ridicule was it featured most of the original cast, another villain with an insanely-elaborate plan, and John McClane was still a vulnerable everyman, not an indestructible killing machine.

"My gun's bigger."

All those elements are gone now, and even though I'm a huge fan of the entire franchise (yes, I even loved Live Free or Die Hard), I'll be the first to admit the Die Hard moniker is used here for brand-name recognition. As a sequel, this is the worst of the franchise. It has the weakest plot, the least-intriguing villain and the lamest dialogue. However, if one is able to look at it as something outside the franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard is no worse than anything else passing itself off as action these days. There are some big-ass set-pieces, including an early chase through Moscow which is so massively destructive that everything else seems anti-climactic. Sure, much of the action is ridiculous, but no more than what we see in The Fast and the Furious franchise, which ironically gets increasing praise. The performances are serviceable, and Willis does what he does best, which is essentially be Bruce Willis. As such, he's just as effective as he was in films like 16 Blocks and Striking Distance.

A lot of people are making A Good Day to Die Hard sound like the Jaws: The Revenge of the 21st Century, which isn't really fair. Jaws: The Revenge is a bad movie by any standard. This installment is simply a big & loud action film on par with everything else out there. There's nothing distinctive about it, which is a huge comedown from the iconic original. However, for a cynically-produced product, there are far worse movies extending their franchises well-beyond their expiration date. It's just too damned bad they stuck Die Hard in the title.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurettes: The New Face of Evil, Two of a Kind, Back in Action, Anatomy of a Car Chase, VFX Sequences; storyboards; animatics; theatrical trailers; concept art; deleted scenes; Audio commentary (extended cut only); Making it Hard to Die (documentary)

(Out of 5)

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