“A Good Day to Die Hard”: Bruce Willis and the Explosions

Here we find Bruce Willis at the outermost frontier of nonchalance, between action hero without fear and movie star without interest. Like all those bad guys and bullets, the paychecks just keep coming at him. As NYPD bruiser John McClane (for the fifth time), Willis gets back to the basic Die Hard business of traveling thousands of miles to blow away scumbags and reconcile family strife. The place is Russia, and the strife involves his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney), a scowling meat-stick who, perhaps to avoid the McClane family tradition of being taken hostage, now works in the field of “spy shit.” John's arrival would seem to throw a wrench in Jack's operation — something about wayward WMDs, with heavy trucks marauding mass-destructively through traffic-clogged Moscow highways, and heavy safes being cracked in Chernobyl — but in fact it affords the senior McClane a chance to school this headstrong young buck with his detective's knack for sniffing out rotten situations. Father-son bonding ensues, and their breakthrough is quite literal, abetted by slow-motion mutual leaps through a blizzard of high-caliber tracer rounds and shattered glass. Everything else is boring and sluggish, no matter that the score keeps telling us we're in suspense. If writer Skip Woods and director John Moore deserve credit for their contribution to this franchise, it's only for supplying a good way to die off.

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