Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Case for Hardly Dying

I am surprised how disappointed I was in A Good Day to Die Hard.

I had thought I had gone into the film with pretty modest expectations.  The last film was awesome (but then it did have Timothy Olyphant in it), but as he was not back for another round, I expected something more around the Expendables level of entertainment.

And so, after a very pedestrian “scene setting” opening, once through a “shaky vision” introduction pointlessly filmed at a shooting range, and around the time when a Russian Taxi Driver started singing “New York, New York” to an almost catatonic John McClane (Bruce Willis, back for more), I was a little shocked when I realised I had begun to clock watch.  Well, actually, that singing scene was incredibly painful, so I was squirming to avoid looking at the screen, so maybe I wasn’t really clock watching, more… in pain.


And the pain continued whenever any of the characters opened their mouths.  Jack, John’s son, played with a fully furrowed brow by Jai Courtney, is annoyed when his Dad drops by as his years-in-the-making CIA plan to free a political prisoner comes to the gun shooting.  Their exchanges in this unexpected situation establish that they have a strained relationship, that Jack is a moron with no training on how to evaluate a situation and act quickly, and that John is… well, I have no idea what he was expecting, either the situation or what he would do, but he is there and so will act as he should.

Much tearing around Moscow in indestructible Mercedes cars (other cars can destruct) ensues, John assaulting the local population and causing untold damage to property and injury and rubbing a few insults in there as well.  His son tends to avoid civilian casualties, so it seems the father has to do the damage.

Driving action leads to running action leading to assault action, the set pieces pausing occasionally for the actors to speak drivel to each other, Jack slowly melting to John’s… well, I would say charm, but he is not really equipped with any this time around, so maybe it’s just the fact John appears to know how to run a CIA operation better than a trained operative.  The baddies shift and change and occasionally dance, but their motivations are meaningless and the choice of “hiding place” nonsensical, as is the technological marvel that, when sprayed around a room like can of fly spray, can neutralise radioactivity in a 10 kilometre radius.  

The actors themselves could be fine.  They all cut the bill: the people playing the villains are bad and regularly stupid, the heroes are rugged and brave and can take metal spikes in the abdomen, and the two women with speaking roles (with about 10 lines between them) are gorgeous and with great hair.  Possibly, if any of them had been given good material, they could have been involved in a decent film.

But the reality is, the story is rubbish, the dialogue painful and the direction close to incompetent.  I turned to one of my companions as the final scenes began, when our heroes (avoiding prosecution for the wilful injury of dozens of people and destruction of millions of dollars of property, obviously) return to American soil and said. “When will the hurting stop?” and she groaned back, “I know…”.  None of us thought the film really had any merit, and I actually thought it had little entertainment value.  Some films like Battleship can at least be entertaining as it insults my intelligence – A Good Day to Die Hard didn’t even bother with that.

Verdict:  As you may have guessed, I thought A Good Day to Die Hard was terrible.  A really good franchise gets an injection of the next generation of McClane, and while I would like to see the new guy get a shot at carrying on the tradition, I am kind of hoping this film kills the series.  It definitely deserves to be put down.  Today is a good day to die, indeed, preferably without watching A Good Day to Die Hard.  1 yippe kai-yays out of 5.


missrabbitty said...

i hope you didn't pay for your ticket, judge.

R said...

I did, I did...

missrabbitty said...

oh dear...maybe better luck next time!