"A Good Day to Die Hard" will be a good time at the movies if you enter the theater with this in mind: This picture is the poster child for big, dumb action movies, but at least it has Bruce Willis as John McClane. You must be ready to embrace that concept.
I'm not saying that adding John McClane to a "Transformers" movie would make that series watchable, but John McClane does make everything better.
You must be enthralled at the simple idea of reuniting with McClane, the New York cop who cracks wise and busts skulls, because you can't go in with expectations that "A Good Day to Die Hard" will have any value beyond massive property damage, or that it will necessarily make sense.
‘A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD’
Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
(IMAX) AMC Southroads 20,
Cinemark Tulsa; also playing Cinemark Broken
Arrow, RiverWalk, Owasso, Eton Square, Starworld
20, Sand Springs
1 hour, 37 minutes
(on a scale of zero to four stars)
Scan the screen and you find that what is not shot to pieces is blown up. Seemingly everything explodes in this picture. Just don't think too much about the story - your head may explode.
It would be wrong for anyone to think the fifth entry in this series delivers anything near the caliber of 1988's "Die Hard," a classic of the action-movie genre that made Willis a star.
That template featured a charismatic leading man, an outstanding villain and superbly staged action set pieces. It combined a plot involving foreign interests buying American (the Japanese in that one) with McClane playing "fly in the ointment" inside a skyscraper and knocking off eurotrash bad guys.
"Die Hard" was fast-paced, funny and brought out our patriotic rah-rah rooting interests. Four movies since have duplicated that concept with varying degrees of success, with nuance falling by the wayside to be replaced by gunplay and lame villains.
The new film finds McClane has evolved from regular-Joe tough guy to worried-dad tough guy, afraid that his son Jack (Jai Courtney, formerly of cable TV's "Spartacus" and recently a villain in "Jack Reacher") isn't communicating with him because he's in some sort of trouble in Russia.
It turns out the pair are estranged because Dad always worked a lot (that's the depth of characterization to expect throughout the film), and Jack is actually a CIA operative in Moscow attempting to extract a Russian political prisoner.
Don't think too hard during the movie, or you will realize multiple plot points simply don't add up. Later double-crosses and triple-crosses among Russian thieves are laughable. If you turn off your brain, at least you won't be laughing by the time the bad guys and good guys end up in a loud, crazy conclusion involving a nuclear-weapons threat.
"A Good Day" is the kind of movie you want to laugh with, rather than laugh at, but you may not be able to help yourself.
Laugh along instead while McClane and son (and oodles of stuntmen) wreck hundreds of cars in Moscow traffic, in a chase worthy of a James Bond movie opening.
Or as McClane repeatedly bellows "I'm on vacation!" while crashing a helicopter or while driving his vehicle off a bridge onto a car-carrier and then on top of people's sedans ("Sorry, ma'am," he says while squishing her car's roof).
"I'm on vacation!" won't enter the catchphrase pantheon along with "Yippee-ki-yay, mother 'you-know-what' " (um, he's not on vacation). But then nothing here stands up to the original.
Not that the picture isn't unapologetic fun, and not that Willis isn't having the time of his life while blood and sweat stream down his face. Not that the stunts aren't spectacular - they are.
Some will decide that "A Good Day to Die Hard" is a good time for McClane and the series to call it a day. But darned if Willis as McClane wasn't enough for me to enjoy his big, dumb movie.
Original Print Headline: One last blast
Michael Smith 918-581-8479