John McClane returns to our screens in John Moore’s A Good Day To Die Hard with Bruce Willis reprising his seminal role for the fifth time and to be fair – at 57 years of age – the great man looks jaded. But hey, maybe it’s just the jet lag.
After getting word that his elusive son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested in Moscow, McClane hops a flight to Russia unaware that Jack’s involvement is part of an elaborate CIA plan to abduct a Russian prisoner and obtain the delicate information he holds. McClane’s appearance proves a spanner in the works and so the usual madness ensues but when an endless car chase through the streets of the capitol leaves them stranded, Jack and John must work together in order to survive and get their payload home.
The theme of family values has always been a Die Hard-franchise mainstay and when asked what relative would be covering his fire in Die Hard 6 Willis smiles and explains “It would be a sad little movie if it was just me running up and down the stairs” and rightly so, but the series only ever flourished as a wise-cracking one-man show. Ever since he rolled his eyes and sighed “California…” at the cheek-kissing Los Angelites of the original, it’s been McClane’s NYPD guff that gave the series its name. Sadly Moore’s attempts to replicate this abroad feel rather dated. Its plenty of fun taking shots at over sunned west coasters and frat-house FBI bureaucrats but having John McClane shouting “I don’t know what you’re fucking talking about” as he knocks out some pedestrian and steals his car doesn’t quite hold the same charm.
Moore talks of writing an “Ode to the joy of the first film” and indeed there is even the familiar whisper of Beethoven’s ninth as the opening credits fade in but amongst these love letters we find a fish truly out of water. The fact is action films changed the day Jason Bourne started punching his way through our continent’s passport controls and McClane just doesn’t look suited to the constantly overcast Europe which modern Hollywood so loves to portray.
A Good Day to Die Hard | Directed by John Moore (USA 2013) with Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch. Starts February 14