‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 18th, 2014 at 3:41 am,

A Good Day to Die Hard Review Die Hard 5 starring Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney A Good Day to Die Hard Review

The franchise name and leading man are the only things elevating this silly, forgettable action romp.

A Good Day to Die Hard sees John McClane (Bruce Willis) heading to Moscow to help out his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who is seemingly headed for prison due to some brazen criminal acts. Little does McClane know, his son is actually a CIA operative who is trying to sneak a convict named Komarov (Sebastian Koch) out of harm’s way before his ex-partner (and current political leader) Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov) can get to him.

When John inadvertently blows Jack’s operation out of the water, it’s up to both McClane boys to put aside their differences long enough to evade Chagarin’s thug Alik (Radivoje Bukvic), his band of killers, and get the evidence against Chagarin that Komarov is protecting. Once they have that evidence in hand, they can do what McClanes do best: Kill a whole bunch bad guys.

There’s a point at which any long-running franchise begins to fall into the realm of self-parody, and for the Die Hard franchise, this fifth installment officially marks that point. Through a combination of a thin story, even thinner characters, terrible dialogue, spastic, murky filming and outrageously cartoonish violence and stunts, the title of this film – A Good Day to Die Hard – is not just a name, it’s a proclamation that this series is now ready for the graveyard.

Sebastian Koch in A Good Day to Die Hard A Good Day to Die Hard Review

Willis, Courtney and Koch in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

Indeed, without the presence of Willis’ iconic character, the film would be a forgettable B-movie action flick. With Willis in it, the appeal is obviously greater – though the experience of actually seeing McClane back onscreen is decidedly less so. Whereas the previous installment had fun with the fact that John McClane is a hero of a bygone era, A Good Day to Die Hard is more content with reducing the iconic character to a generic machismo bad guy-killing machine – one who is so used to this crazy routine that he is impervious to pain, emotion, vulnerability and really anything besides biting sarcasm and cheesy one-liners. That’s all to say: If you didn’t already know the character’s name, it’d be hard to tell this was, in fact, still John McClane (as opposed to, say, Frank Moses, the protagonist from Willis’ other popular action franchise, RED).

Willis himself seems to be going through the motions (read: a paycheck), unconcerned with probing the character for new depth or insight (if there is even any left to find). Most of his screen time NOT mowing down enemies with a stoic look on his face is spent poking and prodding at Jack in a way that’s more drill-sergeant than concerned father. Not exactly the makings of a strong emotional core, but at least Willis seems to be having fun with all the silliness and mayhem.

Jai Courtney as Jack McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard A Good Day to Die Hard Review

Jai Courtney had a breakout role as a henchman in the Tom Cruise action/thriller Jack Reacher, and here he again shows signs of being a capable action leading man. While being handed some pretty terrible lines to deliver, Courtney nonetheless has the physicality (if not quite the charisma) to mix it up with Willis, and enough attitude to offer a few fun rebuffs to the elder actor’s expert timing and delivery. As a character, Jack is very, very, thin – and while Courtney tries to fit in some layering through inference or expression, it’s not nearly enough to make Jack a three-dimensional character – and definitely not a worthy successor to the Die Hard mantle.

The script by Skip Woods is as ridiculous as many of the other films he’s penned (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Swordfish, Hitman), and is in large part responsible for why Die Hard 5 stands as the worst in the series (so far). The movie barrels through the opening setup and exposition so fast and so poorly, it’s hard to have a sense of the ground under your feet before the explosions and mayhem kick into high-gear (and never let up thereafter). As stated, the dialogue is laughably bad to the point that I wondered if it was meant as parody. (John’s repeated utterance of the phrase “I’m on vacation!” and Jack’s repeated utterance of “Damn you, John!” certainly suggested as much…)

We tear through Moscow (where apparently there is no police force whatsoever – even when crooks start shooting up city blocks with military helicopters) before being bounced out to Chernobyl (yup) for the big, stupid, finishing act. Along the way we’re asked to leave pretty much all semblance of the real-world behind, in favor of cartoonish action fantasy and gaping holes in logic. For a franchise that has, in the past, smartly played upon the idea of law enforcement’s response to terrorism, this is a pretty far (nearly unrecognizable) departure.

 A Good Day to Die Hard Review

Yuliya Snigir in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

Add an array of villains who are no more than nicknames with big guns (“Dancer guy,” “Blonde guy,” “Shirtless guy”) and you have a bunch of Russian actors being put to poor use. Koch’s character, Komarov, is quite possibly the only character in the piece to get a shred of depth, while Yuliya Snigir manages to hold her own as a femme fatale who can keep step with the bad boys.

In the director’s chair sits John Moore (Max Payne, Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix) who, like Woods, is known to be a craftsman of B-movie fare. Keeping things “current,” Moore chose to shoot (no pun) much of the film in frustratingly tight close-ups of his actors’ faces, and employs handheld cameras for many of the scenes and action sequences throughout. For action fans: this means you are in for an abundance of hard-to-follow, “shaky cam” antics.

There are also some laughably bad slow-motion CGI-heavy moments employed to make the McClanes seem capable of feats that belong in a superhero movie rather than a gritty action flick. By the time Willis utters his trademark catch phrase, the movie’s action has jumped the shark, strangled it, and surfed it back to shore. That’s not to say the carnage is not impressive on the most basic visceral level – but aside from a few cool moments, A Good Day to Die Hard is more loud and obnoxious than entertaining.

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney in A Good Day to Die Hard A Good Day to Die Hard Review

As if that all weren’t bad enough, Moore and Woods borrow a hefty amount of visual and narrative cues from the other films in the franchise (see if you can spot them all). The idea, I suspect, was to pay homage – but, reflected in a film of such low-caliber (pun), it comes off as nothing more than parody. In short: Die Hard 5 manages to make some of the best things about Die Hard 1 – 4 look silly.

In terms of recommendation, there’s little to say. The words “Die Hard” in the title guarantee that an audience is going to show up, regardless of critical assessment. The franchise name and leading man are the only things elevating this silly, forgettable action romp, and this is one of those cases where fans may eventually come around to pretending that Die Hard 5 never happened. No harm in that.


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A Good Day to Die Hard is now playing in theaters. It is 97 minutes long and is Rated-R for violence and language and brief sexual suggestion.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

Follow Kofi Outlaw on Twitter @ppnkof
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  1. Im afraid I need to send a dry cleaning bill to Screenrant.

    After reading “By the time Willis utters his trademark catch phrase, the movie’s action has jumped the shark, strangled it, and surfed it back to shore. ”

    I spewed coffee.

    I was afraid of this. I thought the last DH was a stretch and was happy to see it as the last, this review proves it is in my eyes.

    I dont even think I will rent this. Only way I will see it is if it comes to Netflix.

    • Like said below:

      read the review for a heads-up; see the movie for yourself. (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD had gotten several rotten reviews that I felt were unnecessarily harsh.) A critic’s opinion is to be taken with a grain of salt.


      • Except for the fact that I usually can trust Kofi’s reviews. There are some differences in taste, but for Kofi to be this critical of the film it has to be pretty bad. I will be waiting for this to come out on Netflix this summer. Now I know why this was released on Valentine’s Day instead of Christmas or a summer release.

  2. It was pretty bad

  3. I can’t wait to see this movie.

  4. well damn. i was really looking forward to this.

  5. one thing you cant do is go what screen rant or any other movie review website says. they are here to give you a heads up in their own opinion. you are most likely will like the film but because you read a review that gave the movie bad ratings your mindset is fixed on finding the flaws in the movie. so read the review go see the movie if its good its good if its bad its bad lol. p.s i LOVE screen rant i mean no disrespect but deep down you know im right chief.

    • @Luther Donquixote

      No offense taken, man. You’re right. I hope people who are interested go see it and get what they want out of the experience.

      • Thanks for the heads up, you know things are lookin bad when reviews only come out on the day of a films release!

        To be fair I’m not expecting much, the director and writer are responsible for some herrendous movies, they destroyed Max Payne, which was one of the best written video games ever made and have that ‘let’s say everything we have to say in 80 minutes’ attitude towards film making, so clearly not fans of the slow burner or coherent pacing that allows for character development and emotional involvement! Great for a 2 minute trailer, not so much for a movie!

        A guy jumping out of a burning helicopter means nothing if you don’t care about him and or his plight

        Anyway il go and see it because it’s Die Hard but Willis has clearly been phoning in his performances since Surrogates bombed!

        • I share a similar feeling after watching SKYFALL. I’m a pre- and post-Roger Moore fan of the franchise, and feel CASINO ROYALE is James Bond at his zenith. In this same way I feel about DIE HARD, the original film; nothing since has come close, and Bruce Willis has been phoning it in after his fine work in TEARS OF THE SUN (which, by the way, had once been a candidate for a Die Hard movie).

          DIE HARD 4 is very well-made and great popcorn-movie entertainment but it is not a DIE HARD movie; it’s a high-concep action film starring Willis that’s been given the Die Hard brand.

          16 BLOCKS is closer to an honest Die Hard movie with “an older John McClane” (without making that admission) than any of the sequels, including 2-3, I’m afraid.

          For the presumed “last” sequel in the Die Hard series, why not have the McClane family–mother, father, son and daughter–altogether (similar to TAKEN 2) sharing that “farewell-to-the-franchise” adventure of some sort that puts this nuclear family in peril, allowing us to see their strengths, weaknesses and camaraderie giving each character depth as the story provides them an opportunity to regain the trust that had torn them apart. (The logline can suggest something kick-ass, of course.)

          I agree, read the review for a heads-up; see the movie for yourself. (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD had gotten several rotten reviews that I felt were unnecessarily harsh.) A critic’s opinion is to be taken with a grain of salt.

  6. Words cannot describe how much I hated this film

  7. Yippee-ki-yay SCREENRANT! :(

  8. ” CGI-heavy moments employed to make the McClanes seem capable of feats that belong in a superhero movie rather than a gritty action flick.”

    i totally agree with this ,

    it’s a feel good action movie but don’t have the old die hard hyped , i prefer the old ones because you can see a lot of john mcclane’s toughness and struggle =)

  9. shame that it’s not as good as hoped.. but I’m still seeing this tomorrow, along with Beautiful Creatures

  10. Wow.. astounded it’s been getting such bad reviews. Still gonna see it but now heavily concerned for the “once great” series :/

  11. It’s official, the only DH movies worth seeing are Die Hard, Die Harder, With a Vengeance and The Fifth Element.

    • And Die hard 4

      • Decent movie, not a Die Hard.

    • And Live free or Die Hard

  12. This is the main reason I like Screen Rant.

    The reviews.

    I usually agree with Screen Rant on movie quality, which saves me time and saves me money.

    Thank you Kofi, and thank you Screen Rant.

    • +1
      This was actually one of my most anticipated films for 2013. I’ll still probably check it out at some point though, but I definitely won’t be rushing out for an opening night viewing anymore.

      • I probably had more fun reading Kofi’s review than I would have sitting through this movie.

  13. I saw this last night. I gave it 3 stars. Points for the villain plot twist which is actually something new for this series. However, the big negative imo is how two dimensional he his. You don’t love to hate him like the Gruber brothers nor does he have the charisma of Gabriel. By default a series has to have a “worst” entry by this point but keeping it real this is still a fun film!

  14. Thanks for the review

  15. Have just got back from seeing DH godd movie but disappointed No Mother FUC#ER thought this film was going to be a 15 only to find here in UK its a 12A other bits from trailer missing to. I enjoyed this as much as the last and i believe that the could take the DH franchise further with the son and Bruce taking a back seat.

    out of 5 id give it 4

    • Problem here is that the trailer is being put together from the dailies as the movie is being filmed. The movie’s editors work on the same material over the course of many months after principal photography wraps. What the trailer editors work with early on may not be considered by the film editors later on, so you got shots, scenes even sequences in the 2min. 30sec trailer that does not make it into the final cut.

      This is common practice…and a disappointment, particularly when a certain shot impresses the hell out of you.

  16. Still better than Die Hard 2: Die Harder 😛

  17. That’s too bad. I was holding out hope for this one. Max Payne is a guilty pleasure of mine (I just love the game series that much) and I thought that Willis might elevate this movie more than he did. Never thought the day would come where a Die Hard movie would be best served in the Netflix queue.

    • Dude you’ll like it, I ALSO enjoyed Max Payne and I liked this movie haha. It was a satisfying Die Hard imo!

  18. Ok, let’s get John McTiernan back for Die Hard 6, him and his whole family can be at a family event or something somewhere(the point is: small setting) and the bad guys wait til just the right minute to strike and it turns out to be one of the Grubers. And they can call it Die Hard Another Day.

  19. Die Hard 4, a pg-13 installment of a rated-r franchise did better than this. Hell it make it even that movie 10x better. Should have wait for a review by Screenrant or Jeremy Jahns. Still can determine which sucks more, this or the second movie.

    • *Hell, it even make that movie 10x better.

      wtf is wrong with me today.

  20. When I heard that John Moore was directing the 5th installment in the die hard franchise, all hopes of bringing the franchise back to its gritty roots went out the window. He is a director with no creativity and no real understanding of the characters (Remember what he did to the Max payne franchise) I pretty much figured this die hard would be all “cool explosions” but nothing to really tie it together. Uggh.. disappointed…

  21. I don’t know why people don’t like With A Vengeance. It’s actually my favorite one of the 4 (haven’t seen 5 yet). Also wasn’t supposed to be a Die Hard movie either though. They just take an action script, change the leading man’s name to John McClane, get Willis on board and another installment sees light.

    In a time when movies are starting to look like TV series (all the Marvel ones, for example), with ongoing plots, most of them don’t seem to care about what TV series still do best; character development.

    It seems (based on this review) the studio’s so scared to scare people away by giving John McClane some depth, or a side that’s not been explored yet, they just decide to keep things shallow. Brainless. Heartless.

  22. It sounds like it’s not even a FUN brainless movie. :(

  23. Thanks for the review.

    If I’m honest, Die Hard 4 (still hate the fact they called it Die Hard 4.0 over here, such a terrible title) was so bad that when this one was announced, I figured I’d wait until it was on TV in a year’s time anyway so thankfully, I won’t be spending any money on movies until Evil Dead now.

  24. I thought the movie was OK, but a definite low point for the franchise. I was lost for the first 30 minutes before things started to(sort of)make sence. At least two characters were totally unnecessary and the film would have been better without them. If there is a another Die Hard, I hope they get back to what worked before.

  25. Great review Kofi. It was a toss-up between seeing this or Beautiful Creatures tonight, but now I’ll probably wait for it to come out on video, and see BC (probably a better Valentines Day movie with the wife anyway, lol).

    Where’s that Beautiful Creatures review!!? Quick! before I spend money!

  26. Just Die Already

  27. It was pretty awful. Did anyone see they used the EXACT same set from Chernobyl Diaries?

    • You mean the actual site of the Chernobyl disaster?

      Did Die Hard film there because I’m pretty sure The Chernobyl Diaries did.

  28. I hated Live Free or Die Hard with a fierce passion. I still do. Not only was it a poor Die Hard movie, it was just a poor action movie PERIOD. The massive praise and way-over-the-top hype it receives confuses me to this day. Terrible dialouge, acting, characters, action scenes, editing, etc. Worst of all, one of the crappiest Bruce Willis performances ever. He sleepwalked the whole damn movie and actually looked bored and annoyed to be in that role again. The PG-13 was the least of its problems. This retarded looking nonsense in Russia looks like the R rated version of Live Free or Die Hard………I won’t waste a dime of my money or second of time on it.

  29. AHHHH yes. That moment where you see the trailer… you REALLY hope deep down it’s going to be good… because you want it TO be good…

    And it just isn’t.