Saturday, February 23, 2013

A sad day for Die Hard

(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on February 23, 2013)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Rasha Bukvic    
Director: John Moore
Rating: 2 stars
An action movie that has its stars jumping off skyscrapers and breaking through glass windows, to come out unscathed, pausing only to dust themselves down, mandates a willing suspension of disbelief. But does that mean a film can be held up entirely by stilted dialogue and loud noises? Perhaps John Moore should have taken a cue from the first couple of Die Hard films. Those had stories, entertaining if impossible. And those had characters, whom we got to know. This film has neither.
I sighed when I saw this was going to pit America against Russia yet again. Unless there’s a rom-com involving the presidents of the two countries, I doubt anyone wants to see those them slugging it out on screen anymore. We’ve had it for, what, forty years now?! This time round, we go straight to Russia, where two men are talking tough to each other. One of them is in a cage, and this is pretty much how the conversation goes:
“Give me the file, I’ll give you your life back.”
“I don’t want my life back.”
“I own everyone in that courtroom.”
“You don’t own me.”
Naturally, someone gets assassinated next. And we find out where John McClane (Bruce Willis) is now – back at the Police Department, despondent about the disappearance of his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney). When he discovers where Jack is, he flies 8000 miles to make peace, and ends up making war. Vintage McClane. “The things we do for our kids,” he mumbles. He’s given some time to relax, with predictable, but nevertheless amusing, gags involving his attempts to speak Russian.
Next thing we know, cars are flying all over the place. Don’t you love how the good guys have no problem with collateral damage when they’re doing their chases and burning up things? The first villain we meet is Alik (Rasha Bukvic), whose childhood baggage over not being allowed to tap dance somehow led him to guns and bombs. Then, we find out Jack is not only a spoilt brat, but a stupid one too.
In all fairness to the film, and to McClane’s character, Bruce Willis does get some nice one-liners, and he carries them off well. But there’s little else of interest. The set pieces get boring, and though the action scenes are nicely choreographed, everyone appears too dispassionate to be convincing in character. The humour is often laboured, with elaborate jokes whose punch-lines we already know. The rest of the film follows the rules: (a) Guards are always looking the other way during crucial moments (b) All tough guys, except our heroes, are dumb (c) Our heroes can hurtle through space unharmed (d) John McClane says “Yippee-ki-yay, m**********!”
The Verdict: This Die Hard film does little to flesh out the frame, and the only reason to watch it is continuity, if you’re a fan of the series.

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