The fifth installment of the Bruce Willis franchise proves it’s time to for John McClane to hang it up.
The Die Hard series always had a bit of a kitschy side—Willis’ McClane should have died hard at least a dozen times by now. But this new installment, which finds the retired cop traveling to Russia under the pretense of saving his son John McClane, Jr. (Jai Courtney), is all cheese and no grit.
One can imagine the pitch meeting for the film focused more on how much damage they could afford than about the script, characters or any ingredient necessary for a good movie. Instead, it’s basically four action scenes strung together as McClane and his son team up to protect a Russian asset for the CIA, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) with a corny subplot about a father and son reunion.
Even the McClane one-liners are uninspired and usually boil down to some iteration of “I’m on vacation!” It’s hard to tell whether director John Moore (Max Payne) and writer Skip Woods (The A-Team) knew they were making something that was devoid of anything but pure destruction, where even the morals of the McClane’s is questionable, or if they truly thought carnage was all that mattered in a Die Hard film.
It’s so bad, in fact, that it’s recommended viewing just to witness what it looks and sounds like to flush millions of dollars down the toilet. In that aspect, it’s almost enjoyable to witness such a lack of talent on screen, including Willis who, even at his most professional, is just going through the motions. It seems as if Moore and Woods were trying to recapture something from the best of the series, the ridiculous slow motion faces, the ubiquitous quips, the over-the-top action, but they’ve taken it so far that it plays like the script generated using a “How to Write a Die Hard” computer program.
The dialogue is so awful, it’s like a Saturday Night Live skit starring Bruce Willis. But it’s not supposed to be funny. It’s supposed to have this father/son emotional core that’s just so poorly developed and written it’s hard to believe it was made by professionals.
In the end, it’s clear that Moore’s only focus was to destroy as much as possible. In the first action sequence, which begins mere seconds after McClane lands in Russia and feels as if it runs nearly a third of the film’s ninety minutes, the number of wrecked cars is astonishing. And it’s not just that Moore obviously thought it awesome to demolish upwards of two dozen vehicles, but that McClane now comes off as a bumbling idiot chasing the action for the hell of it.
The joke of McClane, and any action star, really, is that the damage they create doesn’t necessarily justify “saving the day.” But Moore doesn’t really seem to be in on the joke. He genuinely enjoys just blowing everything up. But without anything else to back up his penchant for carnage, it comes off as a joke that no one but the audience is in on.
Rating: 1 out of 5