Published Feb 14, 2013It used to be so much more fun than this to watch John McClane at work. From the original Die Hard to the surprisingly entertaining Live Free or Die Hard, he was the epitome of the reluctant action hero. He didn't ask for the kind of monumental trouble he attracted, but he wasn't about to walk away when it fell into his lap either. And while the previous instalment showed some spring left in his step, A Good Day To Die Hard suggests it may be time for McClane to finally call it a day.
This time around, the aging cop (Bruce Wills) goes to Russia, where son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested for shooting a man. After a daring courtroom escape, it's revealed that Jack is actually a C.I.A. agent and was only incarcerated to free a prisoner, Komarov (Sebastian Koch), who has hidden a file with damaging evidence against corrupt politician Chagarin (Sergey Koleskinov). Reunited, they set off to retrieve it while being pursued by bad guys.
First, they meet up with Komarov's daughter, Irina (Yuliya Snigir), and we get a second big action scene featuring lots of shooting, running and little in the way of the actual ingenuity we've come to expect from the series. It's here also that a plot twist illustrates one of the movie's fatal flaws. Where villains like Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons have always been an important ingredient to the series, this iteration is simply content to shuffle the deck every half-hour to create a new one.
Also conspicuously absent this time around is the wry sense of humour inherent in McClane's laconic presence. In its stead, we're left with forced jokes, father-son bonding moments in the middle of intense gunfights and a clunky plot that climaxes at Chernobyl — a murky set-piece that makes for one of the more disappointing finales in recent memory. Willis is noticeably lethargic throughout, periodically spouting, "I'm on vacation" as if he had a string sticking out of his back you could pull.
The cardinal sin committed here, though, is somehow finding a way to mess up McClane's trademark line. When he finally utters the words, not only are they garbled almost to the point of incomprehension, they're not even said at the right moment. They are traditionally spoken only when he is about to put an end to things once and for all, like one might say to this franchise right about now.
"Yipee-ki-yay…," you know the rest. (Fox)