It’s always a humbling experience seeing a beloved film character grace the screen for a new outing. There’s a giddy joy seeing Harrison Ford don the fedora for a new Indiana Jones saga or Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley even if she was technically a clone. Even with that tinge of familiarity, seeing the age on your favorite characters can be a hard pill to swallow.
Bruce Willis, revived arguably his best and most famous film character earlier this year. John McClane from the Die Hard film franchise with A Good Day To Die Hard. This entry into the Die Hard cannon has John heading to Russia (?) to see his son Jack (Jai Courtney) after good old Junior kills a man in cold blood. Jack is with the CIA however and he is tasked with protecting a political prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) who has a file that incriminates a high ranking Russian official.
A team is sent to get Yuri and there’s Jack trying to save him when good old Dad walks in off the plane. Oh, John McClane even when you travel across the globe you can’t stay out of trouble. Add to the fact that John and Jack are not really on speaking terms. In fact Jack isn’t happy to see dear old Dad, let alone in the middle of tearing up Russia on an extraction mission.
Let’s be completely honest… This is a Die Hard movie. The plot of the film, having to do with nukes, Chernobyl and cold war nonsense, isn’t the point. When you pick this up what you really want are some awesome action set pieces, snappy one liners and Bruce Willis being a bad ass. And to that point it delivers. If you want something that’s a deep and meaningful character exploration, grab The Hours, if you want popcorn fun… Grab Die Hard.
Honestly, the thing I love about Die Hard films is that it’s a simple premise, an everyday guy is struggling to put his life back on track to save his family. Here, it’s not his daughter or wife, it’s his son. The father and son relationship is at the heart of the film and between the explosions, gunfire, helicopters crashing and fire… Oh there’s fire.
The beginning of the film is rough, I’m not going to lie. I was getting nervous. It was like the filmmakers didn’t understand what a Die Hard film is. Yet, once it settles into it’s groove, A Good Day To Die Hard finds it’s footing. Bruce Willis knows John McClane inside and out. It’s been 25 years after all. Watching him slip back into his skin is fun and even though that sly smirk has been replaced with a few more wrinkles, this John McClane isn’t out for the count. Not by a long shot.
The thing I really enjoyed in A Good Day To Die Hard was Jai Courtney. He really grounded the film with the anger towards his father and his steely demeanor. I felt like he could actually be the son of John McClane which isn’t an easy task. I was familiar with his work in Jack Reacher and Spartacus but here he proved he could tackle a co-leading role. He may not have that jackass spark that Bruce Willis has used to propel himself to the A-List but as an action movie star he has the chops to rise to the occasion.
The film lends itself to blu-ray nicely. The film quality is intentionally grainy and adds a grit to the film that all the other installments lacked. Anyone with a half way decent surround sound will also be impressed by the audio mastering.
The extras a pretty decent including seven deleted and alternate cuts, An Anatomy of a Car Chase Featurette, Two of a Kind which explores the father and son relationship in the film, Back in Action which talks about John McClanes return, The New Face of Evil where the new villains discuss their characters, Pre-Vis where the effects for three sequences are dissected, and storyboards, concrete art and trailers.
Overall, I would say check this out. It’s not the best installment in the franchise but it’s still worth checking out.
A Good Day To Die Hard is out now on blu-ray and DVD!
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