Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard: a brief review

I have a long and personal history with the Die Hard films. I'm confident enough in my Die Hard knowledge to even call myself an expert. If you care about reading about how John McClane was like a father figure for me, search "Daddy Die Hard" on Amazon - it's free. For one reason or another (like my age), I never had the chance to see McClane on the big screen. So I have been looking forward to this movie for a long time and I saw the earliest showing I could find.

I read some early reviews of this film and it didn't look promising. Weak story, dull action, too loud...  these were some of the complaints. I don't know, maybe nostalgia works wonders on me, but I liked it. Sure, there were parts that could've been better. I'm not crazy about the scale of the movie; the greatness of the first one was because of the claustrophobic feel, among other things. I'm also less than impressed with the villains in "A Good Day..."; another piece of greatness from the original was its villain, Hans, who is one of the American Film Institute's top villains of all time. And sure, the newest sequel has some weak plot structure, especially the first 20 or so minutes, when McClane goes to Moscow and happens upon his son (and a bunch of stuff blowing up). Perhaps the biggest let down for me is McClane's loss of reluctance. He's always been sort of reluctant to kill people and do what had to be done, but in here, he's pretty gung-ho.

Then there's the good stuff. Some of the action sequences are a hell of a lot of fun. Yeah, they're not all perfect, but they're still fun. The helicopter is way cool (and brings up some memories from the first movie). Some moments even took a sentimental tone, and they worked well. And the one-liners, the McClane-isms, if you will, were funny and well-timed (much of this was missing from Live Free or Die Hard, the previous sequel). I especially liked the famous Yippee ki yay ... because it was preceded by "The things we do for our kids" and followed by a crazy action-movie/superhero-ish act.

In a nutshell, it's not Citizen Kane, or even the first Die Hard, but it's fun, humorous, and it'll probably induce some nostalgic feelings for fans of the previous films. Bruce has still got it.

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