Monday, February 25, 2013

To kill a die-hard fan

(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on February 24, 2013, retrieved from

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, and others
Director: John Moore
Rating: 2 stars
Since the Die Hard series began, Bruce Willis has lost a lot of hair, gained a lot of years, and established himself as a formidable actor. John McClane has fought a lot of terrorists, lost a lot of love, and has remained an underpaid cop. Technology’s come such a long way that almost no action sequence wows us anymore. And scriptwriting for action films has deteriorated to the extent we find the time to realise there’s no plot, even as vehicles crash and cities burn constantly. In short, A Good Day to Die Hard is a disappointment.
From past experience, you’d think Die Hard films are all about coming up with new ways to kill bad men. In all fairness, this film has some of those too, though most of the work is done by machine guns. But this is about John McClane, the Dad. Yes, again. He has another kid, Jack (Jai Courtney), remember?
You’d really think brats whose father had saved their country single-handedly, multiple times, would be more grateful. But, no. Well into their twenties, they still need long heart-to-hearts – and some heavy-duty saving – to convince them he had a valid reason for not playing baseball, and taking them to ballet classes, and buying them Barbies and GI Joes.  He was fighting terrorists, you morons. Cut him some slack, now.
Lucy’s epiphany came when her Papa rescued her from terrorists. Now, Papa has to rescue John from Russians. This time round, he says, “I’m on vacation!” so often you’d think they’ve changed the catchphrase from “Yippee-ki-yay.” But a jet-lagged John McLane is a better ally than Batman on steroids. Especially if he’s your father, and you’re an idiot. And he’s going to prove it by giving you redundant advice, and making you jump off roofs and slide down tarpaulins and garbage chutes with zero protection.
We also see John McLane’s more cultured than we thought. He warms the heart of a Russian taxi-driver by letting him sing American songs. And he does know enough about ballet to address a crazed villain with a penchant for dancing as “Nijinsky”. And I could practically hear sitar music when Jack overhears John discussing parenthood with a fugitive they’re trying to save from his evil compatriots.
For all this, Bruce Willis delivers the few genuinely funny lines in this film with his trademark sarcasm and perfect timing. What really lets the film down is how generic it is. Everyone’s a stereotype, and the plot has more holes and than an Abbas-Mustan romp.
The Verdict: Die Hard fans will be relieved if there’s a sequel, because McClane shouldn’t say goodbye like this.

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