Plot: What’s it about?
As I begin my review of this film I’ll try to avoid the typical puns such as “this franchise needs to die hard.” Oops, there I go. This is the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise and to many it’s the downright worst one. Many complaints plagued the fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, having a PG-13 rating. McClaine’s infamous “yippee ky yay” would have to be edited in some way, and of course it was. This film at least goes back to its R rated roots, but that hardly makes a difference. Part of the joy of the original Die Hard film is that it takes an everyman like John McClaine (Bruce Willis) and puts him in an extraordinary situation. Sure the plot is a bit over-the-top, but it keeps things grounded in reality, at least to an extent. It doesn’t hurt that it has an excellent villain as well. The sequel, Die Harder is a rehash of the original film, but still delivers the goods. The third film has McClain teaming up with Samuel L. Jackson in a sadistic game of Simon Says. It also has a great plot twist relating to the first film. Twelve years have passed and we get 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard. The film is generally well received, but leaves me somewhat empty. The action is there, but otherwise it just seems blah. This brings us to the current film, A Good Day to Die Hard.
This time we are in Moscow. McClain is on vacation (as he reminds us multiple times during the film), but as he learns of his son’s troubles he flies out to Moscow. His son Jack (Jai Courtney) is on an undercover mission. The plot is convoluted, but that hardly matters anyway. Jack is arrested. In order to get a reduced sentence, he agrees to testify against whistle blower, Komarov (Sebastian Koch). After a shoot out in the safe house, Jack sees his dad there trying to help him out. Jack has more than a lifetime of anger towards his dad and he refers to him as John. Their constant bickering in the film gets old fast. It’s too angry for a film like this and seems to forget that they’d make a better pairing if their dialogue was actually clever. The film is quite flawed. A number of the action scenes are badly edited thus making them hard to follow. There are explosions, tanks driving off bridges, daring jumps from high buildings onto shattered glass. By now, McClain is essentially a superhero. Also missing this time is a clear, strong villain. There are more than a few minor antagonists in this film, but none of them registers at all. The film might’ve worked with a simpler approach.
If action is all you require, this film might work for you. It does deliver on that level, but nothing feels epic. It is hard to connect with the story. The fun is gone. The father and son dynamic is just bad chemistry. It is hard to discern what is happening in a lot of the action scenes. This is a very dim looking film. We never get a chance to catch our breath and regroup. It’s all one continuous action scene after another, worthy of a headache after a while. Normally I’d say it’d be time to hang up the curtain, but I do think there’s room for one more Die Hard film. It would be nice to have this series go out an a high note. Next time (if there is one) they need to go back to square one. A reboot would probably be the safe bet. It worked for James Bond and the latest Batman trilogy. As it stands, this is by far the weakest Die Hard film to date.
Video: How does it look?
While the film is a disappointment, Fox certainly went all out for this Blu-ray release. The film comes with an AVC 1.85:1 encoded transfer. Sharpness is fine here and colors are well saturated. There is some occasional grain, but nothing too distracting. The film isn’t always the most colorful, but the disc represents the film well. There is quite a bit of blood in this film and the reds come through beautifully. Overall, this is a fine transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
The disc comes with a DTS HD 7.1 track. This is a demo worthy soundtrack. All channels come across loud and clear. This is quite a robust track. I had to constantly adjust the volume level during the quieter scenes (what few there are). Dialogue comes across loud and clear. This is an action heavy film so we hear all shattered glass, bullets, and bombs in perfect detail. This is probably one of the best soundtracks out there today.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Fox has gone all out with this disc. We start by having the option to watch either the theatrical cut or a new extended cut. The extended cut only runs a few minutes longer and doesn’t add much. Director John Moore and assistant director Mark Cotone provide a commentary track. They go over the basic notes and what went into the making of this film. We get seven deleted scenes next, there’s an alternate intro to the McClane character and a few other extended bits, nothing worthwhile. There is a Making it Hard to Die featurette. This is broken into 15 parts and lasts for an hour. This gives us a nice rundown of the production and we get several interviews with the cast and crew. Next we have an Anatomy of a car chase featurette. It lasts 26 minutes and goes into detail about the staging of an action sequence from the film. There’s a father and son featurette titled Two of a Kind. This lasts 8 minutes and is mildly entertaining. Back in action is next, it lasts 7 minutes and discusses McClane’s return to the big screen. We end with a featurette discussing the films villains (The new Faces of evil). We get a few storyboards and concept art galleries as well as trailers for the film. There is also a short feature about the films visual effects that lasts for about 6 minutes. Overall, it’s a solid collection of extras. Its just too bad the film is such a downer. This all comes housed in a standard bluray case with a shiny slipcover. There is a DVD disc as well as a digital copy insert.