A Good Day To Die Hard Blu-ray Review
Any notion I had that Hollywood legends should be developed with good scripts and respected by the studios were erased by George Lucas. That just isn’t the fairytale world we live in and the sad truth is, studios want to turn a buck quickly and legendary characters like John McClane are just paychecks to the executives. What’s worse, audiences lap it up and A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is proof that you can slap the “Die Hard” name on anything and it will bring in $67 million at the box office despite the fact it doesn’t resemble a Die Hard film in any capacity, short of Bruce Willis being called “McClane”. But what frustrates me the most is that no one is trying anymore, otherwise someone would have stood up and refused to allow a B-movie such as this to use the Die Hard name.
John McClane gets news that his son (Jai Courtney) is being held prisoner in Russia, so he hops on the first plane to go…rescue him? It’s not really clear what he’s there for, but when a bomb goes off near the courthouse, the McClanes and a Russian political prisoner meet up, where it’s discovered that his son is actually a CIA agent. But the bad guys really want that Russian politician and somehow they find the safe house and pretty soon, it’s McClane and son versus a lot of Russian baddies. Credit screenwriter Skip Woods for wrapping their adventure around a Russian political struggle, but it was never seriously developed and my guess is that the audience missed it as they were holding their heads in shame for what’s become of John McClane.
Let’s start with the Russian setting. The former Soviet Republic is where Hollywood goes when they have a former star and no budget. That’s why Cuba Gooding Jr., Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and others basically live over there now; they get steady work with straight to video movies and they don’t have to show their face to any of their former friends in Hollywood. It’s a fine setting for those films and I’m sure they have their audience, but why in the world would you put John McClane in Russia? I know it was a money thing and I understand that, but John McClane is either a New York cop or a guy on a really bad vacation. Sending him to Russia and having him complain about his vacation (which, by the way, was not a vacation since he was there for his son) doesn’t solve the problem.
Then there’s the action. The first action sequence is a car chase through Russia which involves a lot of cars flipping over and getting rammed by the parties involved in the chase. There’s no intensity and it all feels like a little kid playing with his Hotwheels since it has no rhyme or reason to the plot and does nothing but bore the audience. We soon get to McClane and son shooting the bad guys and this is where director John Moore picks up where Len Wiseman left off with LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and McClane basically becomes a superhero. He leaps off buildings, flies through glass, suffers multiple car wrecks, dodges hundreds of bullets, jumps onto a helicopter and walks through radiation without ever missing a beat. Remember when John McClane limped for half a movie when he stepped on glass in DIE HARD? Yeah, that was a long time ago.
I’ve complained a lot about how this shouldn’t have been called a Die Hard film, but even if we rename it and change Bruce Willis’s name, this still isn’t a good movie. The cheap settings, unbelievable (in a bad way) action and shoddy direction prevent A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD from even being a guilty pleasure. If John McClane wasn’t already dead in your eyes, then go ahead and let the fifth outing be the final yippe-ki-yay.
A note about the Extended Cut: I noticed two main differences in the extended cut, which have me totally baffled. They cut out Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s opening and closing scenes. Remember that she was the one thing tying the movie to anything we’ve seen before, so I’m not sure why an “extended cut” would cut her out.
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD BLU-RAY REVIEW
I just spent over 600 words trashing the movie, but let’s give Fox some credit with an excellent Blu-ray. The video and audio are fantastic and there are plenty of special features.
Video: The video for A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is beautiful. The production may have been second rate, but the film quality was top notch.
Audio: Same goes for the audio; this is a loud movie and if nothing else, your speakers will get a workout.
Commentary with John Moore and Mark Cotone: This commentary is only available on the “Extended Cut”, which is great because I was anxious to hear why Winstead was cut out of the film. But no, they spent too much time laughing at each other to talk about the glaring omission. That was pretty much the trend since they never really discussed anything important and just kind of joked with each other throughout the commentary.
Deleted scenes (14:27): There are seven scenes total and none of them fix any of the problems of the film.
Making it Hard To Die (1:00:24): This is a massive 15 part documentary that covers every excruciating detail about the making of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. We get interviews from everyone that touched the film, right down to the caterers. If you’re dying to know how they made this film, you’re in for a treat.
Anatomy of a car chase (26:11): The opening car chase that seemingly took forever gets its own featurette and explains why it took so long. Hundreds of cars were involved and a lot of things had to happen to pull it off.
Two of a Kind (7:58:): A quick, fluff piece about the father and son dynamic.
Back in Action (7:04): What I really wanted here was for a Fox executive just to come right out and say “we needed a quick way to capitalize on a name and make a buck”, but they never showed up. But they do talk lovingly about John McClane and how exciting it is to have him back in action.
The New Face of Evil (6:53): The villains from A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD talk about their characters.
VFX and Pre-vis sequences (17:11): Two separate features showing some computer animated stunts that were designed for the film.
Storyboards, Concept Art and Trailers