A Good Day to Die Hard (R)


Movie Info


Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Sniger.

Director: John Moore.

Screenwriter: Skip Woods.

Producer: Alex Young.

A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 97 minutes. Vulgar language, violence, gore, relentless noise. Playing at area theaters.


Early on in A Good Day to Die Hard comes a prolonged car/truck chase through the clogged streets of Moscow that contains some of the most impressive stunt driving I’ve ever seen in a movie. As far as I could tell, director John Moore ( Max Payne, The Omen) used little to no CGI in the entire sequence. Those are real 18-wheelers and tankers and dump trucks smashing into each other, and the tactile feel of the scene, which goes on for at least 15 minutes, gets the movie off to a super-fun start. It’s an orgy of Hollywood bombast and destruction at its most wanton.

There’s just one problem: With the exception of Bruce Willis, reprising his signature role of NYPD officer John McClane, you don’t know who any of the people in the vehicles are, why they’re chasing each other or what’s so important that pulverizing half of Moscow is worthwhile. With the exception of McClane’s son Jack (Jai Courtney), a CIA agent who has inherited all of his father’s crimefighting smarts, every character in the movie is a double-crossing Russian, performed by actors who seem to be impersonating Boris and Natasha from The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. There are MacGuffins and double-MacGuffins, trips to Chernobyl during which the actors take off their radiation suits so you can see their faces to tell them apart, and everyone carries magical guns that never run out of bullets. Director Moore has the visual chops for this sort of material — there’s a beautiful shot, done in slow-motion, of two men falling to the ground alongside a mortally damaged helicopter — but he seems to think of people primarily as things you shoot at or blow up. The incoherent script by Skip Woods ( Swordfish, Hitman, The A-Team) doesn’t help. How does this guy keep getting work? Whose daughter did he marry?

The heart of A Good Day to Die Hard is supposed to be John’s relationship with his estranged son Jack, who resents him for always having put his work before family. But whenever the movie pauses to let the characters work out their differences, you start hoping someone will throw a grenade into the room. Willis can be a terrific actor when he’s engaged by the material ( Looper), but he’s so bored and distant here, even his trademark smirk comes off as condescending. In the original Die Hard, McClane was constantly scrambling and using his brain to ferret his way out of impossible situations. In A Good Day to Die Hard, Willis can’t be bothered to look even slightly worried when surrounded by chatty bad guys who love to make long speeches before pulling the trigger, because he knows he’ll figure a way out of his predicament while they’re blabbing away.

Unlike Live Free or Die Hard, which took heat for its wussy PG-13 rating, A Good Day to Die Hard returns the series to its R-rated roots, primarily so Willis can spout his famed “Yippee-ki-yay” line in its vulgar entirety. Is anyone supposed to still be excited by this? This is the first Die Hard movie to run well under two hours (the incomprehensible final 30 minutes have been so furiously chopped, they deserve their own show on the Food Network). This is also the first Die Hard not to be released during the blockbuster summer season. Instead, the picture arrives in icy, lonely February instead, following recent winter flops by Willis’ fellow ’80s action icons Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Time to give the shoot-’em-up thing a rest, guys: It’s tired and played out, and so, apparently, are you.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">“Life After Death”:</span> Zach (Dane DeHaan) finds his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is behaving strangely after somehow coming back from the dead.

    Life After Beth (R)

    Life After Beth starts out as a cracked, comical take on Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Zach (Dane DeHaan) is a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza). At home, his parents patronize him and his older brother (a funny Matthew Gray Gubler) bullies him, so he starts spending time with the late girl’s family (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). Being with them make him feel closer to Beth, even though they seem to be acting fairly calmly in light of such a calamity.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Magic in the Moonlight’:</span> Colin Firth is a stage magician trying to disprove the abilities of an acclaimed psychic (Emma Stone).

    Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

    The inherent problem in cranking out a movie (sometimes two!) every year, as Woody Allen has been doing for the last 34 years, is that some of them are inevitably going to be dogs. Does someone have a gun to the filmmaker’s head that forces him to proceed with half-baked, joyless comedies such as Magic in the Moonlight instead of tossing bad ideas out and starting fresh? This is, at best, a 20-minute TV episode extended to feature length, and the stretch marks show. Boy, do they show. That’s practically all you can see, really.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category