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Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Updated on January 3, 2014

Director: John Moore
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Cole Hausser, Yuliya Snigir, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Radivoje Bukvic, Sergei Kolesnikov

There's no need to beat around the bush: A Good Day to Die Hard is so bad in so many ways that I don't even know where to start. The action scenes are dull and uninspired. The look of the movie is unbelievably ugly. The plot makes little sense at all. Even Bruce Willis is insufferable as everyman John McClane, constantly complaining about his ruined "vacation" and spouting off dialogue so putrid it's a wonder he was able to keep from cringing. How did this thing get made? Who thought it was a good idea to hire Skip Woods, the same man who gave us the terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to write the screenplay? How...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This movie is so awful that I'm still in a state of shock. The plot involves New York cop John McClane flying over to Russia once word reaches him that his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested for murder (that's what he calls a vacation?!). The action kicks in almost immediately, as Jack manages to escape custody once a terrorist bomb goes off at the courthouse he was scheduled to stand trial at, and he makes off with imprisoned billionaire Komarov (Sebastian Koch), who has in his possession a file that is detrimental to a guy who's in line to becoming Russia's Defense Chief.

It appears that Jacky boy works for the CIA and has been assigned to protect Komarov from his enemies. I guess getting in prison for murder was all part of the plan to get close to his target, although how he planned to spring Komarov from jail is anyone's guess. What follows is a car chase where dozens of cars crash and blow up, and John flips a flatbed truck over a half a dozen parked cars, somehow emerging from the wreckage without so much as a bruise.

Man, aren't you bored?
Man, aren't you bored?

The plot gets dumber and dumber as the movie plods on. The terrorist bomb at the courthouse was apparently an attempt made by Komarov's daughter Irina (Yuliya Snigir) to spring him from jail, and given how powerful the blast was, one can't help but wonder if she put any thought into the plan at all (seriously, it's lucky the blast didn't kill him). Later, we learn the real reason behind the jail break had nothing to do with a file containing damning evidence, but rather with a stash of uranium stored somewhere within the ruins of Chernobyl, where the bad guys plan to...what? Sell them on the black market? Use them for their own destructive purposes?

All of this nonsense plays out in a movie that features one of the most cringe-inducing father and son relationships ever committed to celluloid. For the first hour of the movie, all John and Jack do is bicker, bicker, bicker, and what's worse is that there isn't an ounce of wit or humor to their excessive bickering. "You shouldn't have come here, John," Jack tells his dad at one point. His response: "Hey, what's with this John stuff? Call me dad." Later, Jack tells his father, "You're not going to open up to me before we die. That's not your thing, John!" The bickering continues endlessly, until we get this heavy-handed scene where they both have a heart to heart, and Willis promises him, "I got your back, son!"

There is hardly anything about A Good Day to Die Hard that works. John Moore's direction is hilariously inept, with one laugh out loud scene where John is flung from a vehicle that's dangling from a helicopter into a nearby building. The hand held cinematography by Jonathan Sela is deplorable, blurring the action more than once and rendering certain scenes impossible to follow. The editing by Dan Zimmerman is desperate, rushing through the story and possible scenes of character development, ensuring that we never once become involved in the proceedings. The villains here are so flat and boring that they seem almost like an after thought. And then there's Bruce Willis, a terrific actor who is made to constantly complain about how his so called vacation was ruined, even when he jumps into the enemy's helicopter to prevent their escape. Even his trademark line, "Yippie Ki-yay, mother f*@#er!" is badly delivered here. It's a mess on all accounts.

The name's Ivana. Ivana Humpalot!
The name's Ivana. Ivana Humpalot!

Forced to say something nice about the movie, I am able to come up with three things: 1) the slow motion shot of John and Jack jumping into a pool while a helicopter explodes in the background is stylish (although you can see it in the film's trailers); 2) there is one amusing scene involving a Russian cab driver who loves to sing, and; 3) Yuliya Snigir is gorgeous. Other than that, A Good Day to Die Hard is a depressing and soul-crushing experience. The movie opens up with the sounds of chaos scored over a black screen, and as far as I'm concerned, the movie doesn't get any more exciting than that. A Good Day to Die Hard is one of the worst movies of 2013.

½ * (out of ****)

What were your thoughts on this movie? :)

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