February 21, 2013

'Die Hard' franchise should take a rest


---- — The “Die Hard” franchise isn’t going to die easy, but sooner or later it will pass on. “A Good Day to Die Hard” may hasten its demise.

Coming 25 years after the iconic original, the fifth installment in the series is easily the worst of the lot. “Die Hard 2” says thank you.

The gains made in 2007’s fun and fast-moving “Life Free or Die Hard” have all been lost, and it may be time for grizzled cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) to retire somewhere safe and quiet.

“A Good Day to Die Hard” sends McClane off to Moscow when yet another estranged child — this time a ne’er-do-well son — faces a lifetime in a Russian gulag. The son, however, is actually a government agent whose plan has gone awry, and guess who has to save him?

Directed ham-handedly by John Moore (“Max Payne”), the movie has plenty of pure action and demolished vehicles. It finds a few creative ways to kill bodies and blow things up. Many action movies can and have done that, though.

The “Die Hard” films have always had a little something extra — primarily a rye sense of humor, a dash of Bruce Willis charm and some notable supporting characters.

The 57-year-old Willis still has a twinkle in his eye, but he seems a little tired, and so are his quips. Understandable, and perhaps even forgivable, if Jai Courtney as his son, Jack, wasn’t so forgettably wooden in the co-starring role.

The movie also suffers without a significant villain — no memorable characters at all, really — and a plot that is nonsensical, even by “Die Hard” standards.

The two McClanes battle their way from Moscow to Chernobyl, trying clumsily but failing to generate much in the way of family drama and emotion.

Over the years, McClane has now lost and had to win back his wife, daughter and son. Could “Die Hard 6” bring us his battle to earn the love of his disgruntled seeing eye dog? I hope not.

It’s been a good ride. Time to rest easily instead of dying so hard.

Rental Recommendation: After a 12-year break, 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard” was a lot of fun, and — as the only PG-13 film in the series — not so bad for kids. Grade: B+.

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A Good Day to Die Hard

Grade: C

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch

Rated: R (for violence and language)

Running time: 97 minutes