Wellllll… let’s be honest here. Pretty much any day is a good day to watch Bruce Willis. But to be specific, I finally watched A Good Day to Die Hard.
It seems to me that the Die Hard franchise is much like the early Star Trek movies; the odd-numbered ones are the good one (I do have a soft spot for #2, but it is not as good as 1 or 3). This outing for old-man-McLean is definitely a more enjoyable film than the fourth one was. And I think there’s a really significant reason for that: he’s with his son, rather than his daughter.
The story: Our McLean finds out his son is in a Russian prison. He goes to see what’s happening. He arrives as his son is breaking a Russian political prisoner out. It is revealed that the son is in fact working for the CIA… and then things continue to Not Be As They Seem. And Chernobyl is involved.
Firstly, the good bits: there are some awesome chase scenes. There are helicopters doing mad things. One of the villains regrets that he did not become a dancer, and does a shuffle to prove it while also kicking away McLeanx2’s guns. Some great banter ensues, especially between father and son, and there are two (that I counted) delightful references to early Die Hard which I think is probably perfect – they were very good and appropriate references, and it doesn’t overdo the call-back which is always a threat in such films.
And then… well, I did have a couple of issues. As mentioned above, I enjoyed this film more than the fourth because of the interaction between the father and child, in this case the son. The daughter is not wholly lacking in awesome in the fourth, but she is a captive and therefore lacking in real agency. And the dude/son-replacement that McLean goes along with just got annoying. Whereas here, father and son are totally equal; their skills complement each other, in every fight they’re equally awesome, etc. So that made me a little bit sad for the daughter. Interestingly, there is a daughter character in this film too (actually two, since the McLean daughter gets a look-in as well, but she is largely irrelevant), who is also interacting with her father – she first appears to be working against him, but then it turns out she is actually working with him. So that’s an interesting inversion of what’s going on with the McLeans. I was a bit worried that the two youngsters would end up getting it on, but that wasn’t a problem because she ended up being Evil, as did Pa, and there wasn’t even time for flutter-eyes between the two Hot Young Things (thus, bonus: no romance!). Good Family have issues but work together despite them; Bad Family are sneaky and always working together even when it doesn’t look like it.
Very watchable, but not re-watchable. I really hope this is the end of the franchise, because the only place to go from here is McLean and grandchildren – which he’s already done in Look Who’s Talking – or McLean in retirement village, which he’s already done in RED (and eeee so excited for RED 2).