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Review: ‘A Good Day To Die Hard’

Moore Is Less

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Above: Working through some daddy issues in "A Good Day to Die Hard."

John McClane is back and this time he’s trying to mend bridges with his estranged son in the latest installment of the “Die Hard” franchise, “A Good Day to Die Hard” (opening February 14 throughout San Diego).

It’s been 6 years since Bruce Willis’ John McClane last exclaimed “Yippee kayay mother…” well you know the rest. In 2007 “Live Free or Die Hard” surprised audiences with a big dumb but riotiously fun actioner. It was like a brawny, brainless jock knocking over everything in its way and flashing a charming smile as he surveyed the chaos in his wake. It was ridiculous and oddly endearing because director Len Wiseman simply embraced the cartoony aspects of the film and went with it. It was the same spirit that allowed Justin Lin to get away with all sorts of outlandishness in “Fast Five.”

The way I look at it, I will give action movies a free pass to do whatever over the top shenanigans they choose if they have the right tone and maintain a certain inner logic. That means plot holes can be overlooked, and the laws of physics can be denied, so long as the film pulls me to the edge of my seat to cheer on the action.

It was with those expectations that I went into “A Good Day to Die Hard.” I was hopeful that this would be the perfect antidote to Valentine’s Day romance. But my hopes were soon dashed. First was the revelation that the film’s director, John Moore, had helmed such lame remakes as “The Omen” and “Flight of The Phoenix.” The Moore is less approach announced itself early in an excruciatingly uninventive car chase and then reaffirmed itself with a supreme lack of humor that permeated almost every scene.

Apparently no one told Moore that “Die Hard” movies are not serious action films. They are meant to be popcorn movies. But between Moore’s lackluster direction and Skip Wood’s mediocre script, the film falls utterly flat. I guess because the last film brought McClane's daughter back, this time the producers got the bright idea to bring back the son. It feels like someone instructed the filmmakers to make this film be about working through daddy issues. So every other scenes seems to have Junior questioning or challenging dad about his paternal shortcomings. It gets old fast and it adds nothing to the film and only slows down the action.

Bruce Willis seems completely bored with McClane and is only showing up for the paycheck. Jai Courtney as John, Jr. is a bland, hunky sort who spends most of the film angry or sullen. At least Mary Elizabeth Winstead brought some spunk to McClane's daughter in "Live Free or Die Hard." By the end of this film, I began to wish Junior had been put up for adoption.

"A Good Day to DIe Hard" (rated R for violence and language) took two hours of my life that I will never get back so I'm not wasting any more of my time on this supremely disappointing installment in the "Die Hard" franchise. There's nothing to recommend in this film: the stunts are weak, the music is annoying, the cinematography is bland, and the editing uninspired. Bottom line, no love for this Valentine turkey.

Companion viewing: "Die Hard," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Fast Five"

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