Release Date: March 21
The friend I saw the preview for this film with summed it up perfectly: “The good news for Die Hard fans is A Good Day to Die Hard is absolutely predictable.” If you’re looking for another tear-away, tear-it-up adventure with Bruce Willis you won’t be disappointed. But can the fifth film in this franchise hope to do anything more?
A Good Day To Die Hard follows something of a ‘real time’ path for Willis’ alter ego, John McClane. The family of the police officer we first heard about in the 1988 classic Die Hard has long grown up. John’s ‘always on’ radar for criminal activity has ended up putting significant distance between himself and his son Jack. But when he hears that his ‘boy’ has been imprisoned in Russia for attempted murder, John decides to fly over and offer the moral support expected from a model father. Two things intervene – firstly, Jack is a CIA agent who has got himself deliberately arrested so he can rescue a key Russian informant. Secondly, John is the last person his son wants to see. However when the informant turns out to be a criminal mastermind with a hefty supply of gun-toting goons and plans to export weapons-grade uranium, Jack and John have to find a way to work together. What unfolds is basically a father-son story that’s highly explosive even when the bad guys aren’t around.
There are some classic tongue-in-cheek moments – John’s daughter warns him as he’s about to board the plane to Moscow, “Dad just try – try – not to make an even bigger mess of things.” Like that was ever going to happen… And the film even manages a good signature line: “I’m on vacation!!” screams our favourite detective, as he empties the clip of his automatic weapon. But the good thing about writing a review on a Die Hard film is that you never have to worry about missing something when you look down to make notes. Even though there’s an attempt to deal with John’s workaholic tendencies and the problems that resulted from being an absent father, they aren’t allowed to overrule the main purpose of the plot: blowing things up. Predictably John and Jack manage to patch up their relationship, and just as predictably they do so in the middle of a fire-fight. Twenty minutes from the end of the film they’re crouching behind a cement barrier that’s singing with the impact of bullets. Our Die Hard hero turns to his son and says:
John: I had a pretty good day. It’s fun running around with you. I love you boy.
Jack: Me too.
John: Whadaya know, I got you back! Right, let’s go kill some [expletives]!
No, I’m not kidding. That’s actually in the film. I don’t think A Good Day To Die Hard offers much in the way of solutions for struggling dads, but it’s not bad on identifying the problems. Uranium should not be traded on the black market and fathers should not work at the expense of their families. Coming to his senses, John shows some pretty impressive fatherly love, putting his life on the line to ensure his son survives. I’m sure there’s a slim parallel to be made with what God has done for his spiritual children but Bruce’s performance doesn’t rise that high. My advice? Just enjoy the explosions and turn it into a bonding experience with the son God’s given you.