Will someone please just put the “Die Hard” franchise out of its misery already? Please?
But let’s start with how this fails at being even a decent “Die Hard” movie, since that’s the bigger issue at hand.
I suppose the biggest problem with “Good Day” isn’t that John McClane is nigh invulnerable or that he dispatches bad guys with a simple wave of his machine gun. It’s that the film presents McClane as a massive jerk and a borderline sociopath. He has always been surly and brusque, but he’s never been out-and-out jerk the way he comes across here. For example, in the first major action setpiece, McClane is chasing after the Generic Russian Bad Guys, he’s driving a massive (stolen) truck and quite literally bursting through walls, crushing cars and generally causing even more mayhem in the wake of this already gratuitously chaotic chaos. McClane has always caused collateral damage, but never in a way that seemed so unconcerned for the safety of everyone around him.
I guess it’s just that this version of McClane seems so callous and indifferent to so much of what happens (both in terms of character and action), it makes me wonder if writer Skip Woods and director John Moore have ever actually seen any of the previous films in the series.
Gone is the relatable, blue-collar guy who finds himself doing the best he can against near-insurmountable odds, just struggling to keep his head above water and stay alive. Gone is the guy who nearly got taken out by shards of glass.
Gone is the guy who had a startlingly honest moment of self-realization in a skyscraper bathroom, coming to terms with just how much he’d failed his family. And in his place is a callous, bulletproof, generic action hero who cracks off generic one-liners. Remember when McClane taking out a single bad guy felt like a massive, hard-fought victory? Remember how brutal and hard each punch and bullet impact felt? That’s gone. And in its place is a hero who can take out a half-dozen faceless thugs with a wave of his machine gun.
What set John McClane apart from every other action hero of his day was his vulnerability and his humanity, two things that have now been stripped from him completely. Compound this with one of the most generic villains ever (I can’t even remember if we’re even actually told the guy’s name, remember when the original gave us one of the screen’s most iconic and well-realized villains?) and a level of over-the-top action that shames some Schwazenegger movies and you simply have a film that feels nothing like its namesake.
This might have been assuaged somewhat had functioned simply on a superficial level as a competent action film. It doesn’t.
The premise is that McClane travels to Moscow to help his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), out of some major trouble in which he’s found himself. It turns out Jack actually works for the CIA and is trying to extract a high-profile target. There’s something in there about Russian revolutionaries and secret files and betrayals and all of this stuff that makes no sense because Woods’ script is one of the most incompetent scripts put to use in years. It dumps exposition at a breakneck pace with nary a consideration given as to whether it makes any sense or if we’re given motivation enough to care.
The result is a film that screams along (the film is, mercifully, a scant 98 minutes long), often literally moving from explosion to explosion, shootout to shootout with little attention given at all as to who is being shot at and why other than this is simply what must happen in an action film.
This is frustrating because the basic premise is one that could have quite easily led to a fertile film in the series. As poor a father as he’s always been, McClane has clearly always cared about his family, and an aging dad trying to repair things with his son who also seems to constantly find himself neck-deep in absurdly destructive situations is perfect fodder for furthering McClane’s story.
Alas, we’re instead stuck with a script that can’t even nail the most basic characteristics of the series’ protagonist and a director who is incapable of even keeping an action scene’s basic geography correct. I never thought I’d see the day when “Die Hard 2,” once considered the series’ nadir, would end up looking like a stellar entry in the canon.
It may be too early to call this one of the year’s worst films, but if another action movie manages to sour me more than this, it’s going to be a rough year.