John McClane (Bruce Willis, “Looper”) heads to Moscow to help his son Jack (Jai Courtney, “Jack Reacher”) who is being held in a Russian prison. When he discovers his son is a member of the CIA and is mixed up in a situation that could lead to nuclear war, the two team up to restore peace in Russia and save the world.
This installment shouldn’t even be considered a “Die Hard” movie.
One, McClane isn’t confined to a single building or location. In the first, and arguably best, two movies, he doesn’t travel vast distances. In this installment, he flies 8,000 miles to Moscow, travels all over the city and even goes to a third location. Part of the original “Die Hard” gimmick that made it memorable was that it was condensed, yet still action-packed and engaging.
Two, McClane goes looking for trouble. Another part of the overall “Die Hard” charm is that McClane finds himself in a situation where he has to be extraordinary. He never goes looking for it — things just happen, and he rises to the occasion. Flying 8,000 miles to hopefully sweet-talk your estranged son out of an international prison definitely qualifies as looking for trouble.
Three, McClane must never have the advantage. This goes along with the “not looking for trouble” rule. McClane is an NYPD cop in a situation that he has not been trained for. He should always have at least two or three moderate disadvantages, such as not speaking the native language, not knowing the layout of the building, being severely out-armed by the enemies or being injured. Despite being in Moscow, there is little to no language barrier, he is able to apply basic American cop tricks with no resistance and, despite his son being a trained CIA agent, he has far more tactical knowledge and a quicker wit for application. His son Jack is relatively useless by comparison.
That aside, the plot’s action escalated far too quickly. A successful action flick builds up the action over the course of the movie so the final battle scene is always the most spectacular. The plot should build the audience’s excitement for the end scene.
In “A Good Day to Die Hard,” there is an amazing car chase through Moscow with stunts and crashes so intense and memorable that it puts the action in “The Last Stand” and other car-centered movies to shame. “The Fast and the Furious” even pales in comparison in some ways.
However, the chase takes place near the beginning of the movie. The audience is completely blown away and is left hanging for the remainder of the film. Sure, there’s action everywhere, but nothing builds up. Nothing compares, and even the anticipated final battle scene falls short, mostly because it’s right on par with the car scene — barely more exciting.
The movie is also glaringly sexist. McClane’s loving daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”), drives him to the airport at the beginning and tells him that she’d like to go with him, and he tells her no. Then he spends an entire movie being awesome with his son, who doesn’t really like him all that much.
Part of being an awesome action movie is fighting a main baddie who happens to be a hot chick. She is the only real female character in the movie, and she’s both evil and psychotic. She gets what she’s due for, of course, but not before she is used to do something absolutely horrible that completely breaks her. It’s a bit excessive, actually.
Then, we’ve got Lucy waiting back at home, hoping that her dad and brother are alright, like a good little girl. The one other time we hear from her, she’s distracting her father on the phone during the epic car chase. Here’s the lesson: Only bad girls get to play, and then they die. Good girls stay at home and wait.
Don’t see the new “Die Hard” if you love the franchise. It’s horrible as a piece of the series, poorly organized in terms of action and it hates women. If you want to see quality “Die Hard,” watch the first two — maybe three movies.