Twenty-five years ago, I was excited to watch the thrilling new flick “Die Hard,” which starred the up-and-coming Bruce Willis as John McClane, a New York City cop who was in Los Angeles visiting his estranged wife in an effort to reconcile their relationship over the Christmas holiday.
Their happy reunion was tained, however, by a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman — for those of you younger than 30, that’s “Severus Snape”) bent on stealing gold from the Nakatomi Plaza. The terrorists didn’t know he was there, he had training that allowed him to take them out, Yippe-ki-yay...
Well, you know the rest.
Two years later, McClane saves Dulles International Airport from a group of terrorists while his wife is stuck in the air in an airliner that is running out of fuel. This time the baddy was played by William Sadler. More explosions, more dead “scumbags” and more Yippee-ki-yay.
By this point, I’m pretty much hooked. If you can give me Bruce Willis, explosions, dead “scumbags” and a Yippe-ki-yay, I’m good to go. So, when Twentieth Century Fox announced a fifth installment of the series to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the franchise, I was certainly receptive.
Let’s face it, fans of the “Die Hard” series aren’t looking for much more than Bruce Willis, one-liners, explosions, dead “scumbags” and the obligatory Yippe-ki-yay. And “A Good Day to Die Hard” delivers on all of that, even if it’s not delivering in the other areas (e.g. plot, quality effects).
It’s eye candy for the adults, and it works well in that regard.
Without spoiling the obligatory plot twists that are a mainstay of the franchise — and there are a couple — the gist of the plot is pretty simplistic. Believing his son, John Jr. (or “Jack,” as he is referred to up until the final scene — a passing of the torch, perhaps?) has gotten in with the wrong people and landed himself in a Russian prison, John McClane travels halfway around the world, only to discover Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist.
Father and son team up against the Russian underworld, battling a countdown to war. But they soon discover their opposing methods make themselves a nearly unstoppable force.
Jai Courtney makes a pretty good Jack McClane, while all of the best one-liners are still reserved for Willis, who can still deadpan with the best of them. Sebastian Koch makes a pretty believable Russian billionnaire in a film that routinely suspended reality in an effort to make really cool effects shots.
Although this is an “R” film — there are a couple of violent scenes that you can blink and miss — it is largely for John McClane’s overabundant use of the “f-bomb.” And, at 97 minutes, it’s a quick little thrill ride for those who enjoy watching things get blown up.
If you’re a fan of the franchise, “A Good Day to Die Hard” won’t rank as your favorite of the five films. But it’s definitely worthy of its title.