Film review: A Good Day to Die Hard (12A)
It's 25 years since Bruce Willis donned a sweaty vest to save the day in Die Hard. And 23 years since Die Hard 2, when he asked, disbelievingly, "How can shit like this happen to the same guy twice?" That question persisted right through to Die Hard 4.0, when Willis, as hard-ass cop John McClane, teamed up with an ace computer hacker (played by Justin Long) to save America, again.
The variations seemed all played out, but lo! McClane is back in A Good Day to Die Hard, this time to join forces with his equally fearless son. Did anyone know that he even had a son? The series seems to be taking on the disturbing aspect of a family business. I wouldn't put it past McClane to line up with his grandchild in time for Die Hard 8.
For now, though, we're in Moscow, where John has gone to bail his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) out of trouble. Little does he know that the kid is not just a chip off the old block: he's on a mission for the CIA to rescue top-level scientist Komarov (Sebastian Koch) from a gang of murderous Russian goons. "So, you're the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey," says father to son, pride mingling with envy.
The director, John Moore, delivers two huge set-pieces in quick succession, the first an explosive assault on a Moscow courtroom, the second a long car chase through heavy traffic and across floyovers that ends in a demolition derby. Scenery-trashing has been integral to the franchise from the off, the difference being that the first Die Hard cleverly confined itself to a single building (the Nakatomi tower!) and gave Willis one of the greatest adversaries in movies – take a bow, Alan Rickman, your beard and soft-voiced suavity live on. Here, the bangs come quickly but with less ingenuity, the rule being that if one loiters in a building for longer than five minutes a barrage of gunfire will shatter the windows.
As for Willis, he's pushing it as an action hero but doing OK. The patented smirk is still intact, as is the bellyaching about how he neglected his kids because he was too busy working. Any remorse over his selfishness, however, is forgiven in the face of his willingness to go out on a limb for his family and his country. The screenplay by Skip Woods (The A-Team) keeps reminding us exactly what sort of scumbags he's up against: they stand over their victims and sneer, "Do you know what I hate about Americans?" Pause. "Everything." What can you do with such people other than blast them to smithereens with a cry of "Yippee-ki-yay"?
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate