The best films of the Die Hard series, other than falling on odd numbers, have in common a simple premise taken to its logical, yet exciting conclusion. Die Hard (1988): off-duty cop trapped in a tower with terrorists, bloodies feet, kills all bad guys, saves wife. Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995): off-duty divorced cop solves deadly riddles, befriends Samuel L. Jackson, kills bad guys. But the John McClane of the 21st century takes the movie’s title literally, the bald version of which is an unkillable, unfunny, I’m-too-old-for-this-shit smug cliché of a cliché he helped create.
Five breaks the odd-number trend, enlisting a cadre of mediocre action film vets to whip together the horribly titled A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): old off-duty cop goes to Russia to find his son, joins son’s CIA mission, blows shit up, reconnects with son by killing all the bad guys.
Now, I’m not opposed to dumb. I liked last year’s Dredd. And I don’t hate unnecessary sequels. I’ll recommend Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to anyone who’ll listen. But this movie is both dumb and unnecessary. Firstly, this iteration lacks a charismatic villain like the Grubers of Die Hards of yore, replacing them with a carrot-chomping Russian dancer and a sexy villainess who couldn’t elicit terror if she wore a Bane costume.
Secondly, Jai Courtney, as Willis’ onscreen offspring Jack McClane, not only misspells the name Jay (duh), but worse, looks like an unholy union of Seth Rogen and Channing Tatum cursed with the devastating dearth of the personality of either.
Thirdly, the father-son subplot (as well as the terrorist-stealing-weapons-grade-whateverium actual plot) could’ve been written by a fill-in-the-genre computer program, with all the narrative beats hit with such dutiful familiarity you can all but mouth along every time Willis utters a slight variation of the phrase, “I’m supposed to be on vacation!” (which he says at least four times).
Like one of the myriad multi-flip car crashes John McClane somehow survives in this sad excuse for an action movie, A Good Day to Die Hard—or as I like to call it, Die Hard V: Son of Die Hard—will undoubtedly, and unfortunately, fail to kill a franchise that should’ve died easy long ago.