Wednesday, 7 August 2013

On The Airplane - Part 2: Russia Explodes

With four films leading up to this (reviewed here and here), the first being one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, there will forever be a sceptical frame of mind towards a franchise on its fifth adventure. But can this prove all those cynics wrong? This is A Good Day To Die Hard.

The unlucky, unusual, and downright unfortunate police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) is on the search for his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who has just turned up in prison in Moscow. John takes a vacation to see what is up and accidentally interrupts his son's CIA mission. Oops. Whilst trying to get a file from government whistle-blower Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), John slows the CIA down, with good intentions, of course, but causes them to miss their extraction. Having to move to plan B, which also goes sour, the CIA have little choice but to allow John's involvement, but who can the McClane duo trust, and who will turn against them?

You may think this scene is unnecessary...
You would be completely right.
There is no doubt that Willis is still the same Mclane that he has always been, though slightly more chirpy than the fourth instalment. The constant yells of, 'I'm on vacation!', before doing something extremely stupid remind us that, whilst he is still an awesome badass, he is getting old. His son, played by Jai Courtney, brings the youthful spirit into the film, leaping around n slow motion but showing no positivity for his father. Unexplored trauma that no one dares develop much. Really, all of the performances feel a bit forced like there is no passion in anything. The bad guys do not seem to evil, there is no evidence that John has done enough to make Jack hate him, and Willis is simply resorting back to an old recipe that has always worked. It is rare to expect an Oscar worthy performance in a Die Hard film, but at least in the past there has been some notion that all the cast members are trying. Here, everyone seems to have rolled out of bed, read their lines, and gone home.

John was very proud of his son's ninth Doctor cosplay...

Of course, these are not the only issues with the film. One thing that is critically underdeveloped is a small little thing commonly known as the plot. After half an hour of thoroughly enjoyable action packed mayhem, the audience are left with a question: what was it for? The antagonist switches more than a strobe light turns on, and none of them are developed in any shape or form - their motives extremely vague. There is plenty of father and son bonding and lots of things explode but questions are raised and never answered. It is like the creative team thought the only worthwhile thing in Die Hard was the explosive violence and so simply discarded the story this time round. Even the badly received Die Hard 4.0 had a solid story line, even if it was ridiculous. Maybe the franchise should take some advice from the film's title.

The action is fantastic, even if it has no real purpose, but, sadly, the film does not explode off the screen in the same way the cars do. Maybe it is time for McClane to finally retire.

Best Bit? The first half an hour of mayhem. At that point in the film, an explanation simply is not needed. Mindless carnage with some of Willis best lines and some genuinely inventive destruction.

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