As soon as I noticed the new Die Hard movie was a 12A, my heart began to sink. Granted, age ratings aren’t everything, but I had a strong suspicion the producers’ intentions were to appeal to a universal audience and rake in the profits, rather than giving long-standing fans what they’ve been actually waiting for.
As I later read, everywhere but the UK got the full, uncut version of the fifth Die Hard, and it is the fault of the BBFC and the film distributer (20th Century Fox) why us Brits have got the toned down version. Not only is this new Die Hard film significantly lacking in blood, but John McClane is unable to say the word “motherfucker”, which is insulting to those who’ve grown up with the franchise, as well as those casual cinema goers who pay the admissions expecting a “full” movie.
Unquestionably, A Good Day To Die Hard aims to go down the family-friendly route like Die Hard 4.0 hinted at with its theatrical release. There will most likely be a director’s cut or something similar at a later date, but even that is unlikely to transform this third sequel into something more exciting for the viewer, and, indeed, something that seems more challenging for the lead character.
Yes, Die Hard number five is an action dud, and it certainly doesn’t “feel” like any of the Die Hard films that came before (especially the first three). Starring, as always, Bruce Willis as detective John McClane, we’re presented with a familiar situation of the everyman being out of place with his surroundings, though without any real danger to overcome.
This time, McClane is in Russia, primarily in pursuit of his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), and that’s immediately where the problem lies. The introduction of the son really isn’t needed: Why, for example, couldn’t McClane be the “fish out of the water” in Moscow with another cop mission? I’ve never particularly been a fan of writers introducing “youngsters” as sidekicks to the aging protagonists, and I’m by no means any less convinced that it’s a good thing from the evidence here.
Rather than partaking in an actual mission, for ninety-seven minutes we get to see McClane and McClane Jr. develop their father-son time by shooting at bad guys and “bonding”. Both of them are linked to the bigger issue of an escaping Russian political prisoner (Sebastian Koch) and the assassins out to kill him, but this aspect of the story is never really developed.
Truth be told, there’s nothing that memorable here. There’s an insane car chase that’s entertaining, but it feels more like it should belong in a Stallone or Schwarzenegger film than one involving average guy McClane. Radivoje Bukvić as Alik has the potential to be a great bad guy, but is never given enough screen time; and the witty one-liners are practically non-existent.
I was never a huge fan of the sequels, but the original Die Hard was an action classic, plain and simple. Twenty-five years on, A Good Day To Die Hard is not a terrible action movie, but those tense, violent moments John McClane partook in really do seem a long time ago now.