I remember going to see A Good Day to Die Hard on opening night back in 2013. The trailers looked promising with big action and a fun tone, plus I’m one of the few people who really enjoys Live Free or Die Hard. I left straight from work to go to the theater, at the time I was working at a restaurant so I was able to sneak in an entire meal as well. It seemed like everything was going smoothly….until the film started. I walked out of the theater like many, disappointed and angry. That was the last time I saw this film. It wasn’t even that it was simply a bad movie, it was dog shit, nothing functioned on any level. That being said, it seemed like 3 years was long enough, so I finally sat down and gave A Good Day to Die Hard another shot. Has it gotten better with age or is it still a turd? Let’s take a look.
John McClane (Bruce Willis) decides to head out to Russia in search of his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney) who has since joined the CIA. While trying to bring his son home, John gets caught up in Jack’s mission: to escort some guy because he has a file? and there’s something with weapons grade uranium? Then they go to Chernobyl? I don’t fucking know.
At this point, the whole idea of the original Die Hard‘s “Everyday man” John McClane has been erased. A Good Day wasn’t the first one to ruin the character in that respect, but it was the first one to completely fuck it up. I actually appreciate Bruce Willis in this film, because he seems to be the only one who understands McClane. He tries to bring that McClane attitude, but is bogged down by the horrible dialogue and the terrible directing, not to mention the hellish editing. John McClane in this film is reduced to the comedic relief. Jai Courtney’s character is the one involved with the film’s big conflict, John is just kind of there to crack jokes and shoot things. He’s a total buffoon.
This is all thanks to the writer of this film: Skip Woods. If you don’t know who Skip Wood is, he’s just the worst. The worst. At writing anything. Some of his achievements include X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitman, Hitman: Agent 47 and The A-Team. So it makes total sense why this film is not only filled with horrible dialogue, but is also just a complete mess of a narrative. There’s no cohesive narrative whatsoever. A lot of the film is spent trying to figure out what the hell is going on, forcing the viewer to make more of an effort than the fucking writer did. The film features one of the most awkward first acts that I’ve ever seen. Nothing flows or comes together organically. Things are awkwardly just placed together to set off a series of action scenes—which is fine when you can make that work, but like I said it just comes off as awkward. That’s the word that kept coming to mind the most during this film: “Awkward”. It’s just an awkward film to watch.
There’s literally an exchange between our two protagonists that goes like this:
“So do you have a plan?”
“No, not really. Figured we’d just run in there guns blazing, making shit up as we go along.”
and you feel as if that’s how the filmmakers approached this film.
I could even let a lot of this pass if the action were at least fun, and this film is action packed to the max. It’s filled to the brim with explosions and machine guns and cars flipping in the air. It’s the Die Hard film that I would’ve written in 8th grade. This isn’t a compliment to the film, in fact the action is one of the biggest issues here. First off, there are no physics to anything. Our main characters can constantly smash through glass windows and do infinite flips in cars and can smash through wooden planks and walk it off. It makes for an immediate disconnect, when there’s nothing to really grasp onto. For instance, we kick things off with that big car chase. That car chase is fucking unreal. It’s like 15-minutes long and it’s nothing but stupid, loud shit. It’s as if Man of Steel, The Fast and The Furious and The Bourne Supremacy all had a really boring baby. In fact, you could even say that the Bourne franchise is guilty of a similar crime, but the difference is that the Bourne films (at least the first few) are fun enough to distract you. They’re exciting. The action in this film is large scale, but none of it is exciting. It doesn’t help that the camera work and editing are totally scatterbrain.
This brings us to our next offender, the director of the film: John Moore. For those of you who don’t know John Moore, he’s a fiend for boring action films. His works include Max Payne, Flight of the Phoenix and the 2006 remake of The Omen. With this film, he seems to try to bring this handheld, gritty look to it, but it doesn’t at all mesh with the large scale action and silly tone. I actually kind of like the look of the film (at times) but the whole shaky camera technique is SO RIDICULOUSLY CRAZY during basic scenes of dialogue. They’re shot at weird angles with shots that are either too long or too short, all while the camera is moving around all over the place. It’s a complete cluster fuck of a film on even just a technical level. Not only are the dialogue scenes terribly filmed, but the action scenes are filmed even worse. Sometimes people who are shooting each other are edited in such a way that makes it look like they’re not even in the same room. It makes the action clunky and completely incoherent.
Now, for the big question. After giving A Good Day to Die Hard a second chance, did it redeem itself?
No. No. FUCK no.
It’s very obvious that I hated this movie. I’m happy I watched it though, because I had forgotten really how bad it was. It doesn’t help that even at a slim 90-minutes, the movie drags on. It’s so pointless that you’re waiting for it to end the entire run time, plus it’s just dull. The story is a complete mess, the dialogue is painful, the camera work is jarring, the action is ridiculous, the list goes on.
Every single frame of this film is a disaster.
Well, this installment of CLEAN SLATE was certainly more painful than the last. The bright side is that in the next installment of CLEAN SLATE, I’ll be covering a film that is universally beloved that I’ve only seen once when I was 13 and hated: Pulp Fiction.
*Dives for cover*