The Monocle – “A Good Day to Die Hard”

Directed by: John Moore
Written by: Skip Woods
Released: February 14th, 2013
Theatre watched at: AMC Century City, Los Angeles

Why?! Why?! How?! Why?! What?! How?! I don’t get…Why?! John Moore, you were given, more or less, a contemporary template of how to create a successful and entertaining action movie in this century with Live Free or Die Hard (2007). I just want, nay, need to tell everyone about just how pivotal Len Wiseman’s contribution to this franchise was, and to all of modern action cinema for that matter, with his Die Hard film. It had been 8 years since the filming of the last movie Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), and an astronomical amount of new-age, CGI-dependent films had come to define the aesthetic of what the 21st Century Hollywood action genre would follow for a while. Lo and behold, the breakthroughs in video digital technology and the film industry’s excess use of it quickly wore thin with critics and moviegoers alike.

Jump to 2006 where they announced they would be bringing back the Die Hard franchise, and skepticism outweighed excitement. Many thought the franchise had: run its course and should stay in the era in which it’s style had maximum impact, Bruce Willis was far too old to be believable in the role any longer, and the inevitability of CGI use will leave the fans anticipating a completely different and tarnishing entry to one of the best action trilogies ever. Surprise, surprise…not only did Live Free or Die Hard become a huge hit, it is considered by some to be the second best just behind the original; not only did it deliver some of the most tense and brilliantly executed action sequences (a stitching of practical and CGI effects), but it also had a timely and intriguing premise, a diverse and meaningful supporting cast, and a humorous script that stayed true and built upon our hero John McClane. It was the perfect revamp to a franchise most thought should have been left alone, but it proved everyone wrong and had me excited for more.

Man did they completely f*ck things up with A Good Day to Die Hard. Zero of the shine that made all of the previous entries commendable returns in this installment. Zero. If you have questions about specific aspects of this film, the answer I would have to all of them would be “sucks.” In fact, the only thing that is near accurate about this film is its title, because it sure is a good day to have this franchise die hard with this one. John Moore, I’d just like to let you know that you have single handedly destroyed one of my personal favorite action franchises of all time, and to have done that after such an amazing predecessor could only have been done by a slack sack of a director. I would normally sum up the plot of the film but there really is no point, because the writers didn’t seem like there was a point either–it’s something about John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Russia, and how he goes there to save his son Jack (Jai Courtney) who has daddy issues but they are forced to work together because some old guy is in trouble with the government, and something about bombs and carrots…I don’t know, who cares.

The real star of the film is supposed to be the action anyways, right? So, let’s talk about that. First of all, it sucks. That’s actually all I really have to say about it, but I’ll elaborate. Not only is there very little “action” compared to the other entries, but whatever bombastic and insanely preposterous scenario our characters find themselves in is so over-the-top that the whole thing starts to become a parody of itself. Sure, Live Free had its moments of absurdity, but they were executed with rhythm, inventiveness, and most of all, practicality. Some will point out that the beginning car chase is mostly practical, and to that I say true…but it takes up half the movie’s runtime and is mostly shots of this armored truck smashing into cars! We get it, it’s the I-405’s dream car during rush our–one shot would have been adequate. Also, proof of John Moore’s undeniable carelessness for this franchise is how McClane is able to flip his car 10 times after going 100mph on a freeway, and then later in the day bust through a hotel window 40 stories up, smash through plank sheet after plank sheet on the way down while being shot at by a military helicopter, land on a pile of trash, AND NOT HAVE ONE SINGLE HINT OF A SCRATCH ANYWHERE ON HIS BODY. Now that, even to brain-dead moviegoers, is just downright offensive. (Click HERE for an example of one of the best slam-and-bash chase scenes in film history from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines)

Another thing that just pisses me off like crazy is the fact they ended up making, what I like to refer to as, an STS film, or a set-to-set. What this means is that the narrative is largely progressed by simply moving our characters from one obvious set piece to the next as not to have to worry about filming on actual locations to enhance the realism. The film moves from a safe house, to a hotel ballroom, to an abandoned clothing store, and finally a rundown complex, with close to no other scenes being shown between them as transitions, and if there are, it’s another set piece! One of the most ridiculous unnecessary uses for a set piece is the abandoned clothing store which John and Jack find shelter in moments after they’ve fallen from a 40 story hotel. Why in all holy hell would you go through the trouble of creating a set like that, which will ultimately be used for two camera angles of sh*tty dialogue, instead of having them find quick rest in an alleyway?! My guess is they needed to take full advantage of their insanely blaring use of the blue-orange action color grading scheme which becomes especially prominent and eye gouging due to the use of artificial lighting. I’m seriously so over that color grading, we need to find a good day for that to die hard as well.

No words can describe how angry I am (except for everything I’ve said so far) at the lack of true “effort” that went into trying to make this film a legit sequel to an amazing franchise that was already given a spark to keep going. Don’t watch this film unless you are comfortable reaching a new level mindlessness. Of course there have been much, much worse, but Moore hit a spot that is precious to me, so I’m being a bit dramatic.

Bow Tie Score - 1.0