A hard film to endorse.
DIRECTED BY JOHN MOORE
As the awards season clamour reaches full volume, spare a thought for screenwriter Skip Woods. While he’s not nominated in any of the Academy’s traditional categories, The Swordfish and X-Men Origins: Wolverine scribe deserves special recognition for his latest effort, A Good Day to Die Hard. His hackwork here is so potent that he’s managed to script what is, by far, the least distinctive of John McClane’s misadventures to date, despite the fact that it’s also the only Die Hard entry penned specifically for the purpose. This Russia-set sequel smacks of “generic, brainless, post-Bourne spy vehicle,” hastily retrofitted to accommodate Bruce Willis’ famously resilient, wise-cracking cop and a clumsy story of familial reconciliation.
In fairness to Woods, his lack of inspiration is matched by his collaborators’, and as long as we’re doling out pretend accolades for mediocrity, A Good Day to Die Hard is every bit an ensemble achievement. Direction-wise, John Moore’s efforts are at best a mixed bag, highlighted by two serviceable sequences of helicopter-wrought mayhem, but blighted by a spasmodic, frantically framed freeway chase. The villains, meanwhile, are particularly forgettable by Die Hard standards, and franchise newcomer Jai Cortney likewise struggles to make an impression as McClane’s estranged CIA-agent son. As for Willis himself, he’s in full-on paycheque-collection mode, with even his obligatory “Yippee ki-yay” reduced to a weary mutter. Tellingly, it’s only his repeated exclamation of “I’m on vacation!” that he sells with any conviction.