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Movie Review: "A Good Day to Die Hard" (2013)
I get it now. "Live Free or Die Hard" was the "Alien vs. Predator" of this franchise. And as we all know, that film came with a much gorier and violent R-rated sequel which was an even bigger travesty, it was so bad that it seemed as if it was made that way on purpose -- Such is the case with "A Good Day to Die Hard". Yep, this movie has "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" all over it, the only difference is that this time you can actually see what's happening on the screen (that is, if the ADD editing doesn't make things more difficult).
Before the film even begins, it's already off to a bad start. The opening titles give this away immediately. Just like in "Live Free or Die Hard", there is no continuity within the opening credits, no 'clashing titles' like in the first three. You might wonder what the big deal is about opening credits but it's a matter of keeping a franchise's trademarks.
For instance, a burger is a not a burger without the two buns. Sure you can change it up by not adding the cheese or the lettuce or the tomato, but it always comes with two buns. Same with a cheeseburger, the cheese will always be on it no matter what otherwise it's not a cheeseburger. If someone goes to McDonald's and orders a *plain* cheeseburger, that does not mean just a burger in between two buns without cheese (that would be a plain *burger* period). These things are expected, just as we expect certain things from a 'Die Hard' film.
The one positive thing I can say is that they had a potential villain, Alik (aka the bad guy with the carrot), but the script wastes him. Other than that, this film and the last one both stink, but if you want better editing and camera work, then go watch "Live Free or Die Hard".
Enter John McClaine
The first thing "A Good Day to Die Hard" gets right is McClaine's introduction this time around, it's much better than the one we were given in "Live Free or Die Hard". It may not be better than his intros in the first three films but at least McClaine is introduced as some idiotic stalker who uses awkward terms like 'not-boyfriend' and shares some of the worst father-daughter banter in the history of film.
One Word: Dialogue
Speaking of dialogue, there's very few improvements over "Live Free or Die Hard" in this department. The good news is that McClaine and his daughter Lucy actually have a dialogue scene together that sounds natural as opposed to one that feels like it was written by a little kid. However, just about everything else McClaine says in this film is embarrassingly stupid. Lines like "Shut up, odd-job" belong in a film like "Live Free or Die Hard", it sounds as if they were holding back on the curse words, but why? They went through all the trouble to make this R-rated. Stop holding back!
My oh my, McClaine is SuperCop all over again in this film. I don't think any lessons were learned at all from "Live Free or Die Hard". For instance, in one scene when McClaine crashes into the bad guys' vehicle and sends them off of an overpass, he confidently stands on top and waves his hands at the bad guys while boasting, "Hey! Over here!", without due regard and for no reason at all.
Another example: In the car chase sequence, McClaine is driving at truck which is flipped several times, yet he falls out without a single cut or scratch on him, he might as well be wearing a blue T-shirt with a red 'S' on his chest. If that wasn't enough, later in this sequence, McClaine is seen driving over a crowd of civilian cars (yes, with people in them) in order to get to the other side of the highway... again, without any due regard whatsoever.
You know, now that I think of it. Perhaps the next film should be titled "Die Hard Without Due Regard", I mean at the rate McClaine has been going in the two recent sequels, it makes sense.
Lastly, where the heck is the police presence during this long and destructive chase sequence? And why is one of his one-liners from the previous film ("Is that your best shot!?") being reused again here?
Running Out of Time, Are We?
One thing worth mentioning here is that this is the shortest 'Die Hard' film ever made. It's easy to see why, being that it is so badly cut... for no good reason at that!
There are extended versions of scenes in the trailers that are missing in the theatrical cut. Take the girl on the motorbike scene where she strips, very bad cut. She shows up in the parking lot and just starts stripping, it cuts away just as she unzips herself... and for what reason? What was the point of showing this?
Then there's the scene where McClaine is on the plane en route to Russia and is sitting uncomfortably between two Russian-speaking women - That's missing. Even some lines from the taxi cab scene in Russia are missing.
Speaking of Russia, I found it extremely odd that McClaine went to Russia within the first ten minutes. I mean this doesn't even qualify for a natural transition in storytelling. Where is the setup? Everything here is just cut, cut, cut! Fire, fire, fire! Boom! Can you imagine if the first movie was like edited like this? The terrorists would take over the Nakatomi building by the 9 minute mark.
EXT. ENDING SCENE - NIGHT - WIDE SHOT
Could this movie get any more untraditional in the 'Die Hard' sense as it already is? Oh yeah. Take the closing shot of this movie. All of the previous 'Die Hard' films closed with a wide shot that retreated backwards so that the audience could get a bigger view of the climatic final set-piece.
I'm actually surprised that "Live Free or Die Hard" decided to follow suit with this trend because it's sister-counterpart, "A Good Day to Die Hard", can't even get a clue! The ending shot of this movie is a shaky cam, up-close-and-personal, sequence where McClaine and son reunite with daughter on a small landing airstrip back in America. Meanwhile, they play some happy music in the background which sounds awfully similar to U2's "With or Without You".
"I'm on vacation!"
Um... no you're not. You went to Russia to bail your son out of trouble. The fact that McClaine keeps repeating this line throughout the entire movie is noticeable and embarrassing. How can the writers overlook this? He's obviously not on vacation. Now, Casey Ryback was on vacation with his niece at the time when terrorists took over the locomotive train in "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory", but you, Mr. McClaine, are not.
- A Good Day to Die Hard: Basically enjoyable but leav...
A Good day to Die Hard is largely enjoyable as you watch it, but is by far the shortest of the Die Hard movies and simply leaves me wanting more.
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- NOT A Good Day to Die Hard
Review of A Good Day To Die Hard
- Movie Review: "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007)
Yippie ki yay, mother-OOPS! Gotta sell those happy meal toys!