Saturday 16 February 2013

Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

World of Blackout 77-Word Film Review

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A Good Day To Die Hard (Die Hard 5)
Cert: 12A*1 / 98 mins / Dir. John Moore

The main problem, for me at least, in releasing a Die Hard film with a 12A certificate in the UK, isn't the violence being nerfed-down for the rating, but more that it attracts an audience of 14yr old boys unable to shut the fuck up and leave their phones alone for a staggering 98 minutes. I've never been so close to punching someone right in the auditorium.

Anyway. There was a film on. I wasn't expecting much from it. Truth be told, after the Taken 2 fiasco, I expected it to be bloody awful. I was genuinely relieved when director John Moore proved me wrong, although I admit my low expectations may have done half the work, there.

AGDtDH is, in my humble opinion, way more entertaining than it should be, although this is in spite of Willis, not because of him. The script gives him a few sharp one-liners, but this new version of John McClane doesn't have the likeable charm of the first three iterations, and Bruce's reputation for being difficult to work with comes creeping through all too often. McClane's son, in the form of Jai Courtney, pretty much saves the day (despite looking like a terrible character in the trailer), and although the father/son scenes are hampered by the above, young Jack turns out so be way more endearing than his old man.

Elsewhere we've got a fairly pantomime set of Russian bad-guys, twisting and weaving their way through a decent enough (if generic) plotline. At one point, chief henchman Alik stands before the captured McClane boys and boasts "Come now, this isn't 1986!". Less than half an hour later, we're in a safe-room at the abandoned ruins of Chernobyl, and you have to wonder if the screenwriters had intended the aforementioned statement to be quite as ironic, given the largely one-dimensional attitude to Them Ruskies™. Subtle, it ain't; but 'traditional generalisations', it has in spades. That said, the Die Hard films have never been about delicate drama, and the structure of this film still towers over its predecessor, so I can forgive it most of its sins.

For the most part, there's a healthy layer of grime on the camera (probably added in post, but still), and the choppy editing works very well for the action setpieces. The film's spectacularly loud, and the 12A allows for a surprising number of bullets-going-in-to-people (although the shots aren't as wet as something like Django, for example). There are also three fuck-words, which I found quite surprising, under those circumstances. Hey, no use complaining. If you're allowing your 12yr old to watch modern Bruce Willis films, you've already lost the moral high-ground on aesthetics alone .

All in all, I found myself smiling way more than I probably should have. There's a shot which is a direct tribute (read: rip-off) to the Rickman-fall from the first Die Hard, and the look of horror/disappointment on my face quickly switched to a grin as they give it a slightly different spin. I haven't read any of the reviews yet, but I know the film isn't being loved by the press. I don't care. I enjoyed it, and that's what's important.

Is it a great Die Hard movie? No. But it is a good Bruce Willis movie, and those are in short supply these days…*2

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

*1 Yes, really. After the first two being 18s, the next two being 15s and now this, Die Hard 7 is set to be a Pixar feature about a boy detective and his grumpy grandfather. Although I'll probably still watch that.
*2 Obviously, Looper is the exception, not the rule.
*3 I didn't hear one, anyway, and there were plenty of opportunities.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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