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MOVIE REVIEW: A Good Day to Die Hard

A departure from Die Hard formula - not as slick as Live Free and Die Hard, or gritty as the first three films - It entertains with chases, firepower, and a grown up John Jr. who doesn't know jack.

8.0 out of 10 | MOVIE or DVD

Rated: R Violence and language.

Release Date: February 14, 2013

Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes

Director: John Moore

Writers: Skip Woods

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Rasha Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Roman Luknar, Sergei Kolesnikov

SYNOPSIS:  John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces.

REVIEW: John Moore, director of Mark Wahlberg's Max Payne and the Dennis Quaid remake of Flight of the Phoenix, returns to the helm after a five year absence to direct the fifth entry in the lone cowboy cop action series of the iconic character John McClane. Based on characters created for the screen by Roderick Thorp, The A-Team's writer Skip Woods churns out another McClane sequel in the hopes of keeping the genre defining action hero alive. 

A CIA field asset based in Moscow is put into play to carry out an assassination against a one of the two major players embroiled in a controversy involving a national Russian incident. When a man named Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch, Unknown) is transported to a Moscow courthouse for a hearing, the CIA agent is transported into the same courthouse. Back in New York City, Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis, Looper) finds that his son Jack (Jai Courtney, Jack Reacher) is been held for murder in Moscow and leaves his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) behind to try and help Jack out of a tough spot. When a bomb exploded at the courthouse, the CIA agent pulls out Komarov before he is killed. During their getaway they nearly run down John McClane, the CIA agent realizing that his father is in front of him. After Komarov is secured, Jack and John have a blow out about the distractions and failures of John's fathering. Realizing that they are on their own with Komarov, John and Jack must team up to keep the underworld boss, and his daughter Irina (Yuliya Snigir) from a brutal death by his former partner Viktor Chargarin (Sergey Kolesnikov) and his top lieutenant Alik (Rasha Bukvic).

The character of John McClane is an enduring action hero who reinvented the action film genre back in 1988 with the original Die Hard, based on the 1979 novel "Nothing Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp. Bruce Willis, fresh from the set of Moonlighting, ended up being perfect as the police officer visiting his estranged wife and two young children. The office Christmas party becomes something more violent when terrorist Hans Gruber takes over the party. Only lone wolf cop John McClane stands between Gruber and millions of dollars in bearer bonds. 'Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass.' McClane spawned a sequel at a snowy airport, another in the heart of New York against a disgruntled and slighted half brother, and one more with a reunion with a disenfranchised daughter and a fire sale surrounding the electronic wealth of the United States. Now, with keeping with the theme of reuniting with estranged family, John McClane travels thousands of miles to help his son out of a jam - even if Jack wants nothing to do with his absentee father.

In every Die Hard film, the strength of McClane's convictions is directly proportional to that of his villain. Alan Rickman's Gruber was suave and cool under pressure. William Sadler's Colonel Stuart was also cool under pressure, but could handle a weapon system or hand-to-hand combat with the best of them. Enter Jeremy Irons' Simon Gruber with a taste for gold and a terrible Texan drawl. Timothy Olyphant and his cyber expert Thomas Gabriel had the best intentions for the nation in mind, as long as the country was willing to pay for it. In A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack and John are faced with Russian underworld figures Komarov and Chagarin bent on each other's destruction, plus a slick henchman Alik who would have rather have been a dancer - but enjoys maiming and killing just as well. Neither Komarov and Chagarin carry themselves with the flair of past villains, but Alik was truly fun to watch even if he wasn't used to full effect.

Fans of the franchise will always argue about their favorite entry into the McClane universe. Each will have their reasons for liking a specific character, plot, or film. For A Good Day to Die Hard, fans should enjoy Jai Courtney's Jack McClane - a chip off the old block. As I said before, the character Alik is fun to watch. Willis' Detective John McClane is up to his old antics, even if he is a little slower off the draw. Snarky, cocky, and wise-cracking, McClane Sr. delivers on the lines, replaces brawling for bigger firepower, and sacrifices his health for the well-being of his namesake son. In my opinion, Die Hard 5doesn't have the depth of plot that any of the other films have, but it tries to make up for it with the twists and turns of an extended vehicle chase through the streets of Moscow, the twists and turns of the story that Woods did turn in, and plentiful explosions, free-falls, and battered and bruised bodies.

Like many of the action heroes of the 80s and 90s, Bruce Willis continues to play at the action/adventure game. Sly Stallone has shown renewed success with The Expendables,Rocky Balboa, and Rambo. Shwarzenegger tried a lukewarm come back with The Last Stand. Willis has a full slate of films on the docket, including the new G.I. Joe sequel, theRed 2 film, and the new Sin City. While he is as busy as ever, Willis and his John McClane in the latest Die Hard seem to either be a passing of the torch or the reuniting of a family with the mission of providing closure. There may be more Die Hard films in the future, butA Good Day to Die Hard sets itself up as a swan song of sorts.

A Good Day to Die Hard is a bit of a departure from the typical John McClane formula. Its not as slick and cool as Live Free and Die Hard, or gritty as the first three films. But it does entertain with chases, firepower, and a grown up John McClane, Jr. who still doesn't know jack.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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