Among the action film characters that I will always hold dear to my heart, two will always remain at the very top of the list. Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon and Bruce Willis as John McClane from Die Hard. When the series have tried to mess with the core elements of the characters, I tend to get a tad upset. With Lethal Weapon, I love parts 1 and 2, the director’s cut of 3 is decent, and 4 is an atrocity. Everything about Martin Riggs that made him who he was is abandoned in the film. He is an established multi form martial artist, yet when he fights anyone in part 4, he throws punches like a drunk trucker. I could go on, but I won’t. With this latest installment of the Die Hard franchise, many people are clamouring that McClane has been compromised, made into an indestructible superhero. The thing is though, except for the first film, he has been that in every film. In Die Harder he fought a deadly martial arts master on the wing of a plane…and won. He survived multiple (very long fused) hand grenades by shooting himself into the air from an ejector seat, and handily won every single fight he got into. In With a Vengeance he surfed atop a semi-truck being carried by flood waters in a sewer until he was shot a hundred feet into the air from a blowhole…and was fine. It goes on and on, we might like to think McClane has only been different since he lost his hair, but he has been a superhero for a long time now.
When New York cop John McClane (Willis) finds out his estranged son has been imprisoned in Russia, he immediately travels there to see if he can help. Unbeknownst to John, his son Jack (Jai Courtney) is actually a CIA operative attempting to stop a nuclear weapons heist. Together the McClanes must find a way to shoot through the Russian underworld and stop the people out to start World War III.
First off, I am a big fan of all of the Die Hard films to date, especially Live Free or Die Hard, which I thought was better than Die Hard with a Vengeance. A Good Day to Die Hard probably ends up as my least favorite Die Hard film, but there is still plenty to like here. The action sequences are spectacularly staged and exciting. Willis and Courtney have good chemistry and some good laughs together. And unlike many online critics, I thought Willis did a good job in the role of McClane once again. At least they didn’t make him a drunk loser like in part 3! The story was a little clichéd and the set pieces sometimes seemed kind of enclosed, it didn’t really have an open feel to it like the other films. I don’t know if this is due to it taking place in Russia or if they really did do a lot of filming on sets, but it feels slightly claustrophobic to me. But even as my least favorite Die Hard, it is still a fun action movie and does the job better than many other action films I have seen. Would I someday like to see a return to the form of the first film? Hell yes! But in the meantime, I will take John McClane as a superhero.
The Blu-ray from Fox is exactly what we have come to expect from a Die Hard movie. Big, bold, loud and great looking. This one is a darker and grittier film than the previous films, but it still looks fantastic in hi def. Great color, perfect clarity and nice detail throughout make this one a real winner, and the soundtrack is one of the most active and bombastic I have ever heard. Keep on truckin John McClane, I’ll keep coming back.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.