Knowing when to quit is an important thing. The Die Hard franchise, once a torch-bearer for action cinema, reaches its fifth instalment with A Good Day to Die Hard, a title rather more apt than its creators would have intended. Many will argue the series should have wrapped up after the third instalment which nicely rounded out probably Hollywood’s best ever trilogy of action movies, and that bringing John McClane back after a long hiatus with Die Hard 4.0 was a step too far. I’m inclined to disagree. For all its faults that film still found some of the spirit of earlier movies and is plainly miles better than this entirely superfluous fifth outing.
John McClane’s (Bruce Willis, as if you needed to be told) son Jack (Jai Courtney) has landed himself in trouble in Moscow. Fearing what his boy, with whom he hasn’t spoken in a few years, might have got himself embroiled in, John flies out in the hope of tracking him down. He manages to trace him as far as a courthouse where a prominent Russian billionaire is standing trial but after the place is blown up, John comes face to face with Junior trying to get the man to safety. It turns out McClane the younger is a CIA man and some rather nasty people are after his charge.
The story is rubbish. The original film blazed a trail with its relatively ordinary central hero and delightfully theatrical villain but a quarter of a century on the series has regressed into painfully generic territory. It’s just some boring cobblers about Chernobyl and a plan to obtain weapons grade plutonium but as a plot it feels embarrassingly by-the-numbers and completely lacks a proper central villain with even a shred of character. Even Die Hard 4.0’s Thomas Gabriel was better.
Every single scene with any amount of dialogue falls flat thanks to a totally inept script that forces its token rocky father-son relationship. Bruce Willis looks like a just doesn’t give a toss, he knows the film is a dog as recent TV appearances have shown. Jai Courtney, to his credit, at least tries to make something of it but the material is so hackneyed and tired he’s fighting a losing battle.
The one plus note is the action which is actually quite decent, and given that this is an action film it’s a fairly significant plus. An early extended vehicle chase is the spectacular highlight even if it does leave you worrying how many innocent motorists are killed in the carnage, and not just by the bad guys. But the explosions don’t save the movie from utter mediocrity.
With none of the wise-cracks or genuine human moments that made John McClane so relatable, this is a good day to let the franchise die. Unfortunately part six looks likely.