John McClane has fought German terrorists, ex-special forces and he’s even taken on the internet. So where else could the Die Hard franchise take the old-fashioned police detective? The former Soviet Union of course. “Yippee-ki-yay Mother Russia”, the Cold War is back as Bruce Willis’ iconic 80’s action hero returns for a fifth outing.
Die Hard 5 or A Good Day to Die Hard sees the “wrong place, wrong time” cop attempting to rekindle a relationship with his estranged kid (hang on a minute, isn’t that the plot of Die Hard 4.0?). McClane travels to Moscow to track down his incarcerated son, Jack (Jai Courtney). However, as it turns out, Jack isn’t a criminal and is in fact an undercover CIA agent tracking down the whereabouts of some missing weapons-grade uranium. Jack’s plan soon goes awry and it’s not long before his cover is blown, leaving it to the McClane boys to put the hurt on the Russians and find the weapons on their own.
I’ll save you some time. Don’t watch Die Hard 5. All those memories you have of the franchise will be soured by the convoluted, bombastic mess that is A Good Day to Die Hard. The core problem with Die Hard 5 is that it, quite simply, misses the point of the entire series. In Die Hard 1 McClane adopts the pseudonym “Roy” as an allusion to Roy Rogers, a 1940’s cowboy actor. And that’s what John McClane is supposed to be – he’s a lone ranger – battling against the odds to take down a group of well-resourced bad guys, physically destroying himself in the process. What we have in Die Hard 5 is a John McClone (believe me Die Hard 5 deserves a pun as bad as that one), an unstoppable juggernaut that puts Arnold Schawarzenegger’s T-850 to shame. We’re never under the impression that Bruce Willis’ hero is under any real threat. For McClane, a gunshot wound is as inconvenient as a paper cut.
Arguably Die Hard 5 suffers from being too brief. As a result of the measly 97 minute running time, there is very little room for plot or character development. The supporting characters are arbitrary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is shoe-horned in as a cameo from 4.0 (a missed opportunity for development) whilst, as a result of an overzealous compulsion for plot twists, John Moore’s film lacks a discernible central villain. The only notable baddie is Radivoje Bukvic’s carrot eating, dancing mercenary, Alik, whose fleeting appearance in Die Hard 5 just comes across as a pale imitation of Reservoir Dog‘s Mr Blonde.
The John McTiernan-helmed Die Hard outings were defined by their tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. Here that tension is exchanged for what can only be described as Michael Bay’s wet dream. Aside from the repeated use of Beethoven’s ‘Ode To Joy’ (the unofficial theme tune of the franchise) and of course Willis himself, Die Hard 5 bears no resemblance to any of the previous instalments in the series. Even on its own merits, Die Hard 5 is not only a poor attempt at making a Die Hard movie, it’s a poor attempt at making an action movie. There are Seagal films with more thrilling car chases than the opening set piece, and where do I begin with the ridiculous final sequence?
I know, Chernobyl. Somewhere down the line blockbuster directors decided that the site of the nuclear catastrophe was fair game for re-appropriation. It isn’t. And not content with choosing an insensitive location, Moore then decides to defy science and invents handheld hoovers that can miraculously de-eradiate buildings. This invention was probably included as a means of avoiding a final shootout that takes place in hazmat suits, but then Die Hard 5 shouldn’t have been in jeopardy of that in the first place. No Die Hard film should revolve around Chernobyl and AWOL weapons grade uranium. Well, unless it’s been penned by Stan Lee, which would then at least explain the superhuman John McClane.
Rather than watching A Good Day to Die Hard, save yourself the money and just watch Die Hard 1 five times. Trust me, it’s worth it.