Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

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Yippee ki-yay motherfuckers! John McClane is back for another round in the fifth installment of the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard . It goes without saying that the Die Hard series is a fan fave and one of the few franchise operations to get better with each installment, not worse. The question on everyone’s mind ahead of the Valentine’s Day opening of number five – does it live up to its predecessors? The answer is both yes and no.

A Good Day to Die Hard finds John McClane, older, grayer, and more weary, travelling to Russia to bail his apparently screw-up kid Jack (John McClane, Jr., natch) out of a Russian gulag. Turns out, Jack is CIA and he’s on a mission, thus McClane is once again drawn into a get-the-bad-guys-and-survive situation. Yippee ki-yay, indeed!

A Good Day to Die Hard is very good action movie and it’s a great James Bond movie. You read that right. It’s a Bond movie and quite consciously so – just listen to the familiar Bond strain in the score, observe the bullets-shooting-the-screen opening, and chuckle at McClane calling Jack “the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey.” John McClane is suddenly an international man of mystery and all wrapped up in, as he puts it, “spy shit.” As a filmmaking choice, this is wholly entertaining, but it’s a violation of what we expect from a Die Hard movie.

The trouble starts almost immediately in A Good Day to Die Hard.  The cardinal rule of   Die Hard is that McClane is an honest cop, just doing his job, and then he gets drawn into serious shit. Here we have a very different McClane, one who goes looking from trouble. And this McClane isn’t all about doing a job – he’s all about repairing broken familial bonds. As Bruce Willis gets older, so does McClane and this isn’t  necessarily  a poor choice. It’s delightful to observe McClane being less snarky and more straight-up crotchety while wearing an old codger outfit. His badassery now comes with a certain casual weariness. And that famous line is delivered as a sigh with a slight modification, “Yippee ki-yay motherfuckers… the things we do for our kids” just before he drives a tank tuck loaded with weapons-grade uranium out of an in-flight helicopter.

But, all that said, A Good Day to Die Hard features amazing car chases, massive explosions, tons of bullets, a cross, a double-cross, and a triple-cross. There’s some  villainous  Russians, a dancing henchman, a femme fatale, and some more car chases. Did I mention that McClane drives a tanker out of a flying helicopter? Despite the fact that John McClane lands in Russia in an old man outfit, he ends up in his more familiar uniform of a stained, tattered, blood smeared shirt that shows off his still impressive muscles, all the while picking glass bits out of his face. In the end, John McClane is John McClane and we should all be grateful he’s on the job.

Is  A Good Day to Die Hard  opening weekend worthy?

Despite anything negative that you hear about A Good Day to Die Hard , including anything in the review above… yes, yes, and yes! It’s John McClane. Just to put it in perspective, here’s the proper ranking: Die Hard , Live Free or Die Hard , Die Hard with a  Vengeance , A Good Day to Die Hard, Die Harder .  Also, it opens on Valentine’s Day and what could be more romantic that kicking ass and wrecking stuff?

More about A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard  trailer

A Good Day to Die Hard Production Gallery


Brandy Dean is the owner of the digital marketing consultancy Pretty Clever Things and the editor, writer, and janitorial staff for the film blog Pretty Clever Films. She likes dogs, poutine, silent movies, and hockey, not necessarily in that order.

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