Joe Hipperson is the movie reviewer on my Friday afternoon KTRS show, and he is a huge fan of the “Die Hard” movies. He had been really looking forward to the fifth in the series, “A Good Day To Die Hard,” but after I went to a screening and hated it, I thought we’d end up having a knockdown debate about it on the air. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but we did spend a full 17 minutes (!) dissing the movie. Here’s a partial transcript…
Joe: This is really difficult for me. “A Good Day To Die Hard” is one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve gone through in a very long time.
Paul: That’s the problem with expectations, but I’m relieved to hear you say that, because this movie sucked.
Joe: Yes, it does, because there’s no real threat. John McClane shows up, his estranged son murdered somebody, and McClane’s gonna see if he can save the kid and re-bond with him. Well, the kid is freed, and he’s with his dad, and it’s all good. Who cares if some Russian guy’s gonna get bumped off? You got your kid, get on the plane, and go! There’s no urgency. We’ve had his wife in peril in Parts 1 and 2, the entire city of New York was in danger in Part 3, and in the fourth film his daughter was kidnapped — there were real reasons for him to do what he was doing. Now, if his son had gotten nabbed by the bad guys in this one, then I could see…
Paul: No, because then it becomes like the last season of “24” and we just don’t care anymore.
Paul: When they came up with the idea for this movie, they spent maybe 35 seconds on the plot. Okay, we’ll put it in Russia and we’ll have twists and turns about who the villain is — which is always a bad idea because the key to a great action movie is a great villain. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in “Die Hard” was one of the greatest villains of all time. The Bond movies, the ones that work, only work because they have a good villain. Any action movie hangs on that. The hero’s gotta be good, but the villain has to be better. In “A Good Day To Die Hard,” they keep switching who the villain is, with these twists that do not work.
Joe: And we stop caring after awhile.
Paul: The rest of the time, it’s just explosions and car chases and crashes, and here’s the problem with that. The director, John Moore, shot the scenes too close. In the opening car chase, he had the camera zoomed in so far on the vehicle that we have no perspective on what’s happening. Watch the car chase in the first Bourne movie, in the Mini Cooper, with the camera pulled back so you can see how he’s weaving through traffic. In this one, the shot is right up on it, so all you see is that he’s pounding through one car, then another.
Joe: That’s not the only problem. There’s a big tank-type vehicle that goes down the street knocking everything out of its way, and it’s clear that they used the same shot over and over again and digitally changed the colors of the cars! They kept re-using the same shot! They also lifted a line from “Live Free Or Die Hard,” where John McClane yelled, “Is that it? Is that your best shot?” That exact line of dialogue was lifted and inserted in this film during the car chase! You couldn’t get Bruce Willis to do some ADR and put a different line in there?
Paul: While we’re on the car chase, the villain is in that tank-like vehicle and McClane is in a smaller crossover SUV. The tank-like vehicle is crushing everything in its path, but John McClane in this tiny SUV is able to run it off the road. What is that?
Joe: Not only runs it off the road, but this is after John McClane has already flown off the road in another vehicle, rolled about 20 times, fallen down, and gotten back up.
Paul: While talking to his daughter on the phone!
Joe: It was laughable!
Paul: So, let me ask you, the “Die Hard” enthusiast, does this movie kill the series?
Joe: No, there’s still a good movie to be made.
Paul: Let’s compare the “Die Hard” movies to the “Rocky” movies. For both series, number one was good, number two was good, number three was okay, but four and five sucked. Then, Stallone waited several years and came back with “Rocky Balboa,” and it ended the saga on a high note. Can you see them doing the same with “Die Hard 6?”
Joe: Yes, there is a way to end it properly.
Paul: If they want to do it in Russia again, they could have it take place during a meteor attack.
Joe: Which is material Bruce Willis is already familiar with.
Paul: Call it “Die Hard 6, Armageddon 2: The Final Score.”
Joe: One more thing I have to say about “A Good Day To Die Hard.”
Joe: They go to Chernobyl. Okay? McClane and his son go to Chernobyl. And when they get to Chernobyl, everyone’s wearing the same hazmat suits as when they were trying to grab ET. The McClanes don’t have those suits. In what realm of reality would you look at all these guys in these suits and think, okay, let’s just walk in?!? One of them even takes his shirt off! In Russia, where it’s freezing!!
Paul: And what happened to all the bad guys who were outside the nuclear plant when McClane and son got there? There were a hundred of them, but suddenly they’re nowhere to be seen!
Joe: Even the cliche muscular Russian villain guy, who has CCCP tattooed on the back of his neck, built like Schwarzenegger, with his shirt off looking like he’s doused in grease — where’d that guy go?
Paul: I don’t know.
Joe: We never see him again.
Paul: So, what’s your number for this disaster?
Joe: I’m giving it 3 out of 10, and that’s being very generous.
Paul: It sure is. There’s not a good thing about this movie. Instead of calling it “A Good Day To Die Hard,” they should have called it “A Bad Day To Go To The Movies.” Here’s how bad it is: when it comes on cable, you should go out that night.
Of course, nothing we said affected the box office numbers for the movie’s first weekend, but both Joe and I can’t help but wonder how many others walked out of the theater feeling as we did. Which leads us to this musical review by Fortress Of Attitude…