Bruce Willis returns as John McClane in the fifth installment of the “Die Hard” series, titled “A Good Day to Die Hard.” It wasn’t so much of a movie as it was a possible transition point to pass the franchise down to his younger co-star, Jai Courtney, of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” fame. The problem with these kinds of movies, though, is that they spend so much time trying to put the franchise heir in peril that they forget to give him an interesting reason to how he got there. Unless the action sequences have the kind of intense, clanking violence of a Michael Bay movie, it’s best to give the audience a reason to care about him.
The movie begins with Russian political prisoner and whistleblower Yuri Komarov, played by Sebastian Koch, awaiting trial while CIA operative Jack McClane, played by Courtney, works undercover to protect him. Meanwhile, the elder McClane, played by Willis, learns about his son’s mission, and decides to go to Russia to help him out. After an explosion lets out in the courtroom where Komarov’s trial was being held, Jack rushes Komarov into a vehicle, which puts him in a car chase that ultimately leads him to his father. He is not pleased to see “John” (he calls him by his legal name instead of “dad” the entire movie); he apparently hates his father for not talking to him in years. Actually, maybe they haven’t talked because something happened when Jack was younger; the movie doesn’t really specify, but it leans more toward the former.
For the rest of the movie, John basically tags along with his son on his mission, shooting anybody if needed. I never really understood why he decided to help his son out on this exact mission, but I feel like it had something to do with father-son bonding. The most amusing aspect of the movie is watching how calm John handles everything compared to Jack. While Jack gets excited over being part of a car chase or getting threatened at gunpoint, John seems to handle things in a way that tells the audience that yes, he’s been through this before, and yes, it’s been worse.
And this is where I write my confession. I have never seen another “Die Hard” movie in its entirety. If there was anything that wasn’t clear because I didn’t see the past movies, let me know. But what I do know is that John McClane has dealt with higher stakes. And shooting himself in the shoulder to save his daughter in “Live Free or Die Hard” is by far more painful than anything else he had to deal with in “A Good Day.”
Bruce Willis seems to age gracefully as these movies keep coming out; he manages to keep up with the action and snappy dialogue without becoming a laughable old-man caricature, like Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky Balboa,” or Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Last Stand.” Hopefully, this isn’t a film that hands the reins over to Jai Courtney, but more of a way to add characters to the “Die Hard” franchise, because a McClane family ass-whooping sounds like too much of an opportunity to pass up.
Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, this was a rushed, non-climatic, cluster of a movie. It doesn’t help that it was written by Skip Woods, who penned the messy “A-Team” film adaptation, and directed by John Moore, whose movies I have not seen, but haven’t heard good things about. If this movie was made just for the sake of adding another movie to this series, then the next one better be pretty damn good, because there’s no way this is the McClanes’ last rodeo.
Yipee-ki-yay, mother Russia.