It’s been a quarter century since Bruce Willis first played heroic cop John McClane in Die Hard, which effectively jump-started his feature film career.
These days, Willis is still battling foreigners and blowing stuff up in A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth go-around in one of the most financially successful action franchises of all time.
Sure, the film is unnecessary, but can you blame Willis for trying? He has an opportunity to revisit his signature character, restoring his fledgling box-office clout while simultaneously showing that he’s still in top physical condition at age 57. Whether for money or ego or both, the opportunity was simply too good to pass up.
In this installment, McClane travels to Moscow, where he encounters his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who turns out to be a CIA operative whose mission is to stop a mobster (Sebastian Koch) from a theft of uranium-based nuclear weapons. Of course, this leads to father and son using vigilante tactics to battle criminals in the Russian underworld while keeping the weapons out of the wrong hands.
Director John Moore (Max Payne), who was still a teenager when the first Die Hard hit theaters, keeps the pace lively and stages plenty of obligatory high-octane action sequences filled with explosions, car chases and shootouts.
That’s presumably to distract audiences from the script by Skip Woods (Swordfish) that features an uninspired concept and formulaic plotting. The story is right off the same action-adventure assembly line as the most recent few Die Hard efforts, with a father-son bonding subplot that serves as a potential torch-passing device should the series continue.
Of course, the whole point is not to analyze the film’s gaps in logic, or to ponder why the indestructible McClane continuously emerges without a scratch from a series of fireballs, car crashes and bullet showers.
The filmmakers would rather impress audiences with an array of well-choreographed action, seamless special effects and stunt work, and pyrotechnic prowess.
As for Willis, he seems back in his comfort zone, tossing off sarcastic one-liners and catchphrases that will give fans of his character a nostalgic kick.
Unwilling to take its own advice, A Good Day to Die Hard is fun for a while before it runs out of gas, sort of like the franchise as a whole.
Rated R, 97 minutes.