A Good Movie For Die Hard Fans

a_good_way_to_die_hard_5-wideWhen I was a little kid, my father sat me down and introduced me to the Die Hard franchise. He was the one who taught me what I refer to as my “golden rule of action movies” – if the bad guy dies in an extremely violent fashion at the end of the film, it is a good action movie.

This rule is what I use to judge the Die Hard films. In the original, the villain, Hans Gruber, falls to his death from a skyscraper. One could judge the rest of the films by this standard.

In the sequel, Die Hard 2, the two bad guys are killed on board a jet plane – one is sucked into the turbine, while another dies when Bruce Willis’ character, John McClane, lights the jet on fire.

The next two films, Die Hard with a Vengeance and Live Free or Die Hard, fall short of these high standards with their endings. In Die Hard with a Vengeance, bad guy Simon is killed by a power line hitting his helicopter, while in Live Free or Die Hard, cyberterrorist Thomas Gabriel is simply shot by McClane (albeit, McClane does this through his own shoulder while being restrained by Gabriel).

After seeing Live Free or Die Hard in theaters with my father, I remember being disappointed by the lack of brutality that John McClane killed his nemesis with. Gabriel hardly “dies hard.” So when I went to see the fifth installment in the franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard, I was praying that excess action would make up for my dissatisfaction with the previous chapter. Without giving too much away, I was more than satisfied.

The plot of the film is easy to follow. McClane, an absentee father for most of his childrens’ lives, reconciled with his daughter, Lucy, at the end of the fourth installment. Now, in the new movie, he is on his way to Russia to find his son, Jack, who has been missing for three years and is on trial for murder.

As it turns out, Jack is actually a CIA agent involved in some heavy-duty national security and blackmail, and John, after initially screwing up his operation, is dragged into an international incident due to his obligation to his son. John and Jack have to travel all over Russia and Ukraine, protecting a long-imprisoned politician named Yuri Kamarov from government assassins in exchange for incriminating evidence against the Russian Secretary of Defense, Chegarin.

Bruce Willis, having played John McClane four times before, was exceptional, as expected. A well-balanced combination of wise, witty, and brutally badass, A Good Day to Die Hard is filled with moments that had me nonsensically shouting “Oh!” in the crowded movie theater. McClane engages in car chases and gun fights, flips multiple cars while running others off the road, and kills dozens of Russian Special Forces soldiers with an assault rifle without so much as breaking a sweat or getting a scratch.

Jai Courtney, who plays John’s son, Jack, did well with his role, but came off more as an angry kid from New Jersey who hates his dad than he did a stone-cold CIA operative trained solely for the purpose of espionage and assassination. Still, Courtney’s acting was not what was supposed to be focused on – as in any of the Die Hard films, Willis is the star and, basically, the only important character.

Packed with unbelievable action that defies all laws of physics, large explosions, lots of gunfire, the threat of nuclear war, a few funny one-liners, and one random scene of an attractive Russian woman in her underwear, A Good Day to Die Hard exceeded all of my expectations for what seemed to be a slowly dying franchise.

The now 57-year-old Bruce Willis is still as badass as he was in the original Die Hard in 1988, brutally killing his enemies without hesitation and destroying public property, all with that trademark Bruce Willis smirk on his face. And when it comes to my “golden rule,”,A Good Day to Die Hard will have you yelling and cheering.