Thursday, 14 February 2013



The nation went slightly tonto this week when it was revealed that this fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise had been cut back for swearing and violence in order to obtain a 12A certificate, because that's where the money is and who gives a toss about the integrity of the film? The idea of a Die Hard movie where John McClane couldn't use his own Oedipal catchphrase (when the film's own marketing mainly consists of punning on said catchphrase) is as ludicrous as under-12s watching Die Hard movies in the first place. Had it been neutered to the point where it was all fluffy kittens and puppies? Was John McClane taking on a mischievous elf or a naughty hamster rather than international terrorists and bank robbers? In the event, the cuts for the 12A were nonsensical because the finished film is still ridiculously violent: not so much for the graphic gore and bloodshed but for the simple fact that the film is awash with so much of it. They may die bloodlessly and painlessly, but the sheer amount of wanton killing and destruction rather mitigates against the lack of visceral grue.

Sadly, the intricacies of the BBFC and the marketing desires of 20th Century Fox are not the worst of what's wrong with A Good Day To Die Hard. Its offences include, but are certainly not limited to, an uninteresting story, a level of overkill in the deafening action sequences, poor dialogue recording, a staggering lack of subtlety, and not really being a Die Hard movie in anything but name. Rather it's a generic, perfunctory but - let's be fair - reasonably enjoyable thicko action movie which undeniably delivers in terms of smashing up cars and shooting people and blowing things up. John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to patch things up with his dull and uncharismatic hunk of a son Jack (Jai Courtney) who's about to go on trial for murder. But then Jack and his fellow defendant Yuri are blasted out of the courthouse with car bombs: Jack turns out to be an undercover CIA agent and Yuri has a secret evidence file which incriminates the Russian Defence Minister in causing the Chernobyl meltdown.

Cue a spectacularly destructive car and truck chase in which approximately 300 cars and vans are written off (and goodness knows how many innocent civilians are hospitalised or killed), followed by a destructive shootout in the CIA safehouse and an even more destructive shootout in a ballroom (culminating in the Moscow city centre building being shot up by a helicopter gunship in broad daylight) in which Yuri is abducted by his double-crossing daughter and everyone heads for a secret vault in the ruins of Chernobyl which actually contains about a ton of weapons-grade uranium. Meanwhile the McClanes steal a car full of guns and head off after them for the big mega-ultra-showdown of things going boom kaboom KABOOOOOM....

That's probably what it's about, although it could be about catfood or spanners given that the sound recording is so shoddy that much of the dialogue is rendered indecipherable, even when it's not delivered in Russian accents. Even Willis' lines are lost, even when there aren't deafening explosions and gunfire effects in the background. Maybe they just decided the audience were only going to care about the chases and explosions and fights so the little verbal character details that slipped through were of no importance. Don't worry about it, there's only another four minutes before the next deafening and eye-scorching action setpiece.

As a Die Hard movie, it is rubbish and has none of the charm of the first two (I was never a huge fan of the third one); like Die Hard 4.0, it feels more like an ordinary action movie than part of the franchise that reinvigorated the genre a quarter of a century ago. Turning McClane from an ordinary guy into an indestructible Captain America destroys the essence of what John McClane and Die Hard are all about: his normal, average vulnerability. Now he's Robocop. That's not to say A Good Day To Die Hard isn't perfectly proficient popcorn entertainment: it's fun, on the level of dumb bang-bang shoot-em-ups, but unlike the original, it isn't anything more than that. And pasting back the F-words and blood spurts for the inevitable uncut DVD isn't going to change that.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review Richard. There are some good scenes but overall I was pretty disappointed in this one.