7 Reasons Everyone Agrees A Good Day To Die Hard Sucks

A Good Day to Die Hard1 7 Reasons Everyone Agrees A Good Day To Die Hard Sucks

Consensus is next to impossible when it comes to judging the quality of movies. Dissenting opinion is encouraged, usually for good reason, by the constant discussion on fan sites and in theater lobbies, and an opinion that goes against the grain will earn you a ton of attention. That being said, there is virtual consensus in the verdict for A Good Day to Die Hard, and that verdict is that it is baaaaad. So bad.

How did this happen? How did a movie with so much potential, so much hype, and such high expectations for success turn out so badly? I mean, the trailer looked good enough. The Beethoven was overdramatic but this is a franchise traditionally featuring massive explosions and a snarky attitude from its protagonist, so grandiosity is par for the course. The last installment, Live Free or Die Hard, was fantastic. Bruce Willis is one of the most dependable stars around. But this one just did a nosedive, as detailed nicely already on this very site, and further evidenced by its abysmal current 17% Rotten Tomatoes ranking. This bomb is a confirmed dud.

It’s not like this is the greatest movie franchise of all time, but it has previously been a lot of fun. Let’s try to figure out where it faltered, especially in comparison to the previous surprisingly strong Live Free or Die Hard.

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1) Apparently John McClane has become an invincible superhero

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The McClane character that we have all come to know and enjoy is famous for his brash demeanor, his disregard for authority figures telling him to butt out, and his ability to withstand some pretty significant injuries sustained through reckless behavior. The iconic images of John McClane usually consist of some sort of manly smirk on a face at least 50% covered in blood, whether his own or someone else’s.

So it’s more than unusual to see him in A Good Day to Die Hard, crashing through windows and emerging from rolled vehicles without so much as a scratch. It’s like he’s become impervious to pain or skin breakage. Has he become literally calloused, that he no longer sheds blood? He’s completely removed from the original John McClane who would mutter to himself how stupid he’s being as he heads toward the heart of the danger, but we got a sense that he was putting himself at risk. Even in the last movie he showed signs of his age, barely able to move at times and sustaining his usual series of injuries that he has to overcome. In this one, he’s relatively unscathed. With seemingly less risk for this indestructible hero, there’s less for us to be worried about.

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2) Oh, also it feels like John McClane is barely in this thing

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Lots of people are complaining that this movie has no plot. I disagree a little bit with this. There’s a plot in there, it just seems to have very little with John McClane. It’s mostly about the son, Jack McClane, and whatever weird CIA work he’s been doing with Russian criminals. For at least the first third of the movie, we barely see Bruce Willis’ smirking visage. When we do see him, he doesn’t have a whole lot to do. There’s literally a 10-minute or so sequence where he’s running around this Moscow street yelling “Jack!” over and over. And over. Meanwhile the son’s off doing something we don’t care about. Helping some dude escape from some thing or whatever.

It’s unclear whether they did this because they really thought the Jack story was supremely interesting and that John McClane is overrated or whether they’re priming this Jai Courtney guy to take over the franchise. I’m guessing the former is true, because they didn’t give Courtney a whole lot to do either. But it felt for much of the movie that Jack was leading things and his old man was just following him around with one huge weapon after another. It’d be like having a movie where James Bond does nothing but follow a Bond girl around and shoot things.

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3) Most of the dialogue is boring father-son stuff

A Good Day to Die Hard 7 Reasons Everyone Agrees A Good Day To Die Hard Sucks

The writer and director seem as though they really want this movie to have a little heart, and so play up the absentee father angle as much as they can. I don’t think anyone buys it as anything but a device to fill time. Action set pieces are strung together by John and Jack talking about how he was never there for his son, the demands of being a policeman, blah blah blah. It’s distracting early on because all John seems to care about, despite things exploding all around him, is that his son forgives him and they patch things up. Never mind that there are criminals all around doing something or other, probably bad stuff.

Then it all gets resolved in like ten seconds, with John telling—I want to say the prisoner guy but I honestly have no recollection of who he was talking to or whether it matters—telling him that he feels bad for not being there for Jack. Something along those lines. Jack conveniently overhears this and in a fine moment of ack-ting all of a sudden he realizes that his father feels bad for not being there for him because that’s what he just said, obvs. The last movie, by contrast, had awesome moments of Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis yelling at each other. At least that was fun to listen to.

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4) Jack McClane/Jai Courtney are just kinda useless

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I’m not at all familiar with Jai Courtney as an actor, but he seems to have that Liam Hemsworth/Sam Worthington/Garrett Hedlund look that producers are going to be drawn to in I’m sure a completely hetero way. Consider for a moment everything Justin Long brought to the table in Live Free or Die Hard. He’s a bit of an annoying actor, but instead of trying to tone that down, the movie played that up by making him an incredibly annoying character, always whining about how hungry he is and how he doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing—in a way, making him like John McClane used to be. The key moment comes at the end when McClane points out that this nerdy hacker guy actually stepped up when he needed to, and that’s what matters.

Jack McClane, on the other hand, just comes off as an angry meathead who is mad at his dad for missing his baseball games. That’s valid enough, but doesn’t make for an interesting dynamic. We’ve seen it enough times before. He seems more like the Dennis Franz character from Die Hard 2, telling John to leave it to the professionals and constantly being wrong because John McClane is awesome and badass and maybe not the smartest but the balls on this guy, etc etc. They could have made this interesting if the son was actually more antagonistic, but he has to also be the hero when he reconciles with his dad, so they sort of set themselves up to fail.

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5) The action scenes are relatively lame

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The big moment in the early portion of A Good Day to Die Hard comes when we see Bruce Willis basically doing a monster truck maneuver over top of cars on the freeway. I mean, this is weird for a number of reasons—he’s possibly killing random drivers and doing damage to real people with his recklessness rather than just himself—but it’s also just kind of dull to look at, and drawn out even longer than it would have been interesting, had it been interesting in the first place. The other movies have had some pretty nicely choreographed action, most impressively some of the driving scenes in the last entry, with cars flying towards our heroes and pyrotechnics that actually have something of an impact on the eyes and ears.

I think in this one they were trying to return to something of a smaller scale in terms of the special effects, with characters jumping out of windows and being thrown off of buildings like in the good old days, but then this all gets undermined by the gruelling slow motion that provides some interesting perspective at first, but gets prolonged to Michael Bay proportions. Maybe if the rest of the movie was remotely interesting this stuff would have kept my attention.

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6) Who’s the bad guy?

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I couldn’t tell if I was the problem at first, whether the plot involving the bad Russians was straightforward and I was just not paying enough attention or whether it was actually convoluted and presented poorly. Enough people seem to agree that it was poorly done that I feel slightly less bad about myself. There’s the big bad guy shown at the beginning in a scene that makes more sense later on, but we don’t see him again for such a long time that it seems he’s barely factoring into the story whatsoever. Then there’s the under bad guy, who is going for that new villain style where he acts bizarrely and casually, so they have him munching on a carrot. Come on, guys.

Give me Timothy Olyphant any day. His villain had backstory, menace, and style. He was able to laugh when McClane was being funny. He treated his henchmen with such condescension, like a cult leader, acting like he was the only adult in the room. This is what you can do with a villain in a pulpy action movie—the same type of performance Philip Seymour Hoffman delivered in Mission: Impossible III. With no real villain like Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons or Timothy Olyphant, A Good Day to Die Hard has one less element to make us, and John McClane, interested in what’s happening.

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7) The Yippee Ki-Yay line is wasted

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It’s the one phrase used to sum up the Die Hard series, emblematic of the John McClane attitude, taking the stereotype people use against you and throwing it back in their face as you serve them their just desserts. It’s iconic after the first film, where it acts as an ultimate response to the terrorist Hans Gruber’s referring to McClane derisively as a dumb American cowboy. McClane’s response is perfect. In the second movie he says it as a callback to the first film. In the third one he says it with a bit of a catchphrase sensibility, unfortunately. But in the fourth, they restored its original sensibility, as a response to the villain’s jeers. In the fifth, it’s interchangeable with “Geronimo!” or “Here goes nothing!” or perhaps “Did I do that?”

I don’t mean to constantly be bringing up the strengths of Live Free or Die Hard, but it got all these things right that the most recent attempt got horribly wrong. We know John McClane to be the ultimate badass, bantering back and forth with Samuel L. Jackson, jumping off buildings, going toe to toe with villains, brushing off his superiors, laughing in the face of death, shooting through his own body to hit another bad guy. A Good Day to Die Hard captures little to none of that. Instead of badass, it’s just bad.

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  • OMGwhat

    “The last installment, Live Free or Die Hard, was fantastic”

    Omg what ? i almost spat blood there . Previous movie was awful and felt like a kiss of death to a great franchise . It’s were john mclane went from trapped , reluctant and kinda smart hero , to “dumb luck mclane or the next hero of Final destination” . And a movie shot in horrible blue dominated tints and hue , by yet another wannabe michael bay .

    Die Hard was a cinematic godsend in 1988, as it was a grounded action film in a sea of over-the-top action fiestas . Live Free, on the other hand, replaces gritty action with the exact type of logic-bending spectacle that the original Die Hard provided sweet relief from.

  • JTK

    This whole article is just dumb. There isn’t even anything else that can really be said about it besides that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.boyko.9 Joe Boyko

    This is precisely why I get more and more aggravated at Hollywood with every new remake, reboot and sequel. The production almost always seems to lose touch with what made the source material so popular to begin with. Whether it be that Douglas Quaid getting “his ass to Mars” is real or in his head in ‘Total Recall’, or the cold war paranoia of John Milius while writing ‘Red Dawn’ are completely overlooked and are the reason that these movies don’t translate well with a newer audience. Case in point, John McClain… We loved the Original ‘Die Hard’ because the character was an “everyman”. Sure, he might have been a somewhat exceptional everyman, but regardless of how tough or badass he might be, the audience could still relate to him. You know the deck is stacked against him and that he’s clearly out of his element. The new ‘Die Hard’ (as well as the last one for that matter) is sort of like John McClain is a video game character that someone decided to use an invincibility cheat code on. There’s no element of danger for the character and you know that no matter what kind of hell is dished out at him, he’s got nothing to worry about. Where’s the fun in that?

  • Gozzi

    Secretly Die Hard and Unbreakable became one series XD

  • Johannes

    **Spoiler** In 4.0 John flies a helicopter, how awesome would it be if he had broken into the cockpit actually fight a bad guy and then fly around shooting the guns! The movie would still have sucked, but that would have been a better climax.

  • Dalinkwent

    The villains, action and plot really were the worst offenses in DH5. The villains don’t register a pulse because they’re bland and their motivations are muddled and unexplained. In the other Die Hard movies you knew what the villains wanted and they usually set the tone in their opening scene. Hans killing Takagi, Stewart doing martial arts in the nude and crashing a plane, Simon’s first phone call, and Gabriel’s interaction with his henchmen. They all left a impression and made you care about what they wanted. Then their’s the incoherent actions scenes. The first chase scene is hard to comprehend because you don’t know who’s who during the entire chase, and the camera goes ape shit the entire time. There’s no flow or build either, it’s simply car’s crashing into cars and car flips. After the chase scene, the rest of the action scenes is basically John and Jack having a shootout, then performing some big stunt to escape the danger…every single time. What’s striking is the climax is basically a longer version of the 2nd big set piece. Now for the plot. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the villains wanted beyond some file. Why the file is important is never explained, which makes it hard to care about the importance of John and Jack stopping them.

  • David

    What puzzles me about all the complaining (which I agree with) is: where were all these idiot reviewers/writers when Live Free or Die Hard was released? Because I remember everyone was praising that one and it basically suffers from almost everything cited in this article:

    John McClane is not there. Just Bruce playing himself. Looking bored and even arrogant.

    John McClane surfed a jet, which is, in my book, more over the top than anything in a Good Day to Die Hard (which is at least rated R)

    John McClane knows how to fly helicopters in Die Hard 4. Which was very stupid.

    Sure, we knew who the main villain was, but it was bland and sucked.

    So yeah. That.

  • Blackbelt_Jones

    I was done with Die Hard after part 2.

  • Todd Jumper

    Just watched the movie today on pay per view, it was not horrible but it was not good either. It was missing a lot of John Mclane’s character. It just felt like another numbing action movie with Bruce Willis showing up and shooting some people, GI Joe, Expendables 2, just a laid back character who walks in, makes a few wise cracks and then its over.. Interaction between him and his son was written poorly.. not antagonizing or different enough. They do not play off each other well like Die Hard 3 with Samuel Jackson.. the comedic undertone was comlpetely missing.. The bad guys were boring as well.. hardly threatening.. not even really against John Mclane himself.. it was more like an hour and half long action TV show… Anyone who says this was a good action film may be right – but it just does not feel like a Die Hard movie.