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A Good Day To Die Hard – John Moore – a franchise as dead as Python’s parrot




A Good Day To Die Hard –  John Moore

Don’t. No, seriously – don’t.

At last I can shed my secret shame – I’ve always enjoyed most of the Die Hard series. But this latest crass, meritless, ear-splitting drivel finally emancipates me from this affliction.

I like trashy films; good trashy films: and Die Hard (1988), Die Hard With a Vengeance, and even the last Die Hard 4.0 were good, honest, exciting trashy films. This latest franchised rip-off can’t trouble its exploitative a*se with anything so challenging as a plot; dialogue that is intelligible still less intelligent; or even the most rudimentary Directorial understanding of how to build tension and suspense through variations in pace and tone, drama and humour. Good Day as an experience is like going into a room full of unpleasant people who shout at you at the top their voices non-stop for 97 minutes while a 150 decibel recording of the demolition of an industrial site plays in the background.

Good Day abandons every small merit its predecessors possessed: an arch-Machiavellian OTT villain e.g the Gruber Boys – Hans and Simon (Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons) – or even an intelligent feisty protagonist foil like Samuel Jackson. Willis doesn’t even turn up as the hitherto self-mocking, sarcastic, rebellious John McClane; lazily relying here on that never endearing and deeply irritating smirk – the only human being on the planet able to match Dubya Bush with such an infuriating facial expression.

There is zero chemistry between Willis and his supposed son Jack played by Jai Courtney with all the animated charm of a Channing Tatum with narcolepsy. An endless series of utterly pointless car, truck and armoured vehicle-crashing chases alternating with an equally meaningless sequence of shoot-anything-that-moves battles, suffers the law of diminishing returns well before 30 eardrum-thumping minutes have passed. Our initial irritation that this knuckle-headed assault on our senses is so loud that we cannot hear half the dialogue, transforms itself into a sense of gratitude when we get to actually hear the monosyllabic, posturing inanities these so called characters drone at one another.

Supposedly holding together this witless, manic demolition derby of guns and cars, is a ‘back-of-a-fag-packet’ narrative, little more than a pitch, something to do with two Russian ne’er-do-wells one of whom is now President and has imprisoned his former collaborator in some tosh about flogging weapons-grade Uranium out of Chernobyl before it suffered a meltdown as a consequence of their earlier nefarious activities. In a series of ‘plot’ twists about as much fun as a strangulated bowel much death and mayhem is meted out to people we don’t know or care about. Meanwhile our insouciant pair swap smirks and arch little bon mots about whether McClane senior is to be called ‘John’ or ‘Dad’, and appear to bond in a ‘don’t-touch-me’ kind of way while they defy gravity, all the other laws of Physics and the normal response of flesh and blood to endless lethal assaults upon it.

Good Day is moronic, macho mayhem without a shred of the style, panache, ironic humour and tongue-in-cheek self-mocking edge that made its predecessors such slightly guilty fun. In terms of Direction, ‘screenplay’ and performance it is a cynical, bean-counter spirited, exploitative product whose only merit is the technical ability to capture the relentless, pointless destruction of motor-vehicles on film.

I can’t help wondering why, now pushing 60, with over 30 years in the business, over 100 films and making shed-loads of money, Bruce Willis has so little aspiration to put his several talents, including a sometimes nicely judged sense of comic timing, to better use. Good Day fails for many reasons but the main one is that Willis himself appears to have lost any respect for the always ludicrous, but usually entertaining, rebellious S.O.B. scourge of authority that once was John McClane.

To paraphrase Monty Python – this is a dead Franchise: and nailing it to the perch as here in Good Day, doesn’t make it look any more alive.





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