Now Playing: Still Some Life Left in ‘Die Hard’

‘Die Hard’ is back for another installment, the fifth chapter in a series that has spanned 25 years. Prior to this screening, I couldn’t help thinking, “Haven’t we already said all we need to say with this John McClane character?” Ten minutes into the film, I found myself grinning from ear to ear and holding onto both armrests, ready for a highly entertaining thrill ride. ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ might lack in story structure, but completely makes up for that with intense action sequences and two solid performances by Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney.

Director John Moore has taken a different approach with the franchise and given it a heavy dose of the Michael Bay treatment. Now, I’ll be the first to say that I’m no fan of Bay, but the guy can stage an action sequence and blow things up like no other. The only movie I’ve previously enjoyed from Moore was his first, ‘Behind Enemy Lines‘, starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. His later films such as ‘Max Payne‘ and the remake of ‘The Omen’ proved to be poor choices. This fifth ‘Die Hard’ is more entertaining, more adventurous and more fun. Moore doesn’t bother much with character development or complex storylines, but rather starts the action bright and early and never lets up. Considering how terrible the franchise’s fourth film was, I think we needed something like this to make us fall in love with John McClane all over again.

Let me put your minds at ease; this film is rated R, unlike the last one, which was softened to PG-13. Here, we get some great kill-shots, a few dozen gallons of blood, and that famous catchphrase yelled loud and clear.

So, some time has passed and McClane hasn’t seen his son Jack (Jai Courtney) in many years. After a fellow police detective informs him that the kid is mixed up in some nasty business in Russia, as fast as you can say “Yippe-kiy-yay,” McClane is on a plane to re-connect with his son and bring him home.

Meanwhile, Jack looks to be in cahoots with some very bad criminals, leading to an arrest and trial in Russia. As you can imagine, one explosion follows another, as Jack and his partner-in-crime escape and go on the run from the people who want to kill them. The resultant chase scene might rank in my top five car chases in cinema history. I haven’t had this much fun with a car chase since ‘Bad Boys 2’. Lo and behold, Papa McClane shows up to save the day, but not without destroying 80% of Russia in the process. McClane then learns that his son has been working for the CIA as a spy, and the criminal he has in tow has some key evidence about very powerful people in Russia.

From here, we move through several shoot-outs and more explosions, until we end up in Chernobyl, where serious stuff goes down and a few of our characters reveal twists of their own. The climactic fight scene will feel very familiar for fans of the past films, which made me giddy, like I was back in 1988 again.

The banter between father and son here doesn’t feel forced or silly. It seems sincere, and is very funny at times, just as some of the dialogue in the previous films has been. The comedic timing is perfect. The hand-to-hand combat packs a punch. Willis proves that he still has what it takes to fight man-to-man, as well as use any sized gun with ease. Never at any point did I think he was too old of this sh*t. Courtney also proves to be a badass (like he was in ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Jack Reacher’). He and Willis have great chemistry together. And of course the action sequences are top-notch. It’s as if Moore went to Michael Bay training school and graduated first in his class, minus the super quick cuts, which makes the viewing experience better and the action more intense.

Despite its silly plot and predictability, ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ leaves me excited for a sixth film, which is already in the planning stages. Willis has proven that he’s still up for a good fight with plenty more bad guys to kill. Packed with some fun references to the previous films as well as some funny moments and high-octane thrills, I can’t wait to watch this again and have a blast with it.

Rating: ★★★½☆

[Editor’s Note: I’ve turned off the Comments on this post in order to direct further conversation to our follow-up poll post, where spoilers may be discussed. -JZ]


  1. ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ is to the ‘Die Hard’ franchise what ‘Phantom Menace’ is to the ‘Star Wars’ franchise.

    A giant piece of shiny junk.

  2. Drew


    I concur. I was shocked, when I read this review. ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ might be worse than ‘Taken 2’, and that’s saying something.

    • It’s worse because it utterly wastes a genre redefining movie character and makes him into a blithering idiot who is reduced to saying, “I’m on vacation,” over and over again.

      Not to mention it’s one of the worst photographed movies I’ve seen in a long time. Queasy-cam, attention-deficit editing, ugly-ass cyan and yellow filters. It’s just plain awful. It’s not just bad. It’s horrid.

  3. They will never have another Die Hard film like part 1 and 2. Unless McT wants to do another one when he is released. Even then, I think the franchise has gone the way of this latest one, which is a heck of a lot of fun.

  4. Drew

    It’s not fun, at all. I don’t know how you can say that. Your idea of fun must be looking at something hideous that makes you feel like you’re being tortured.

    As Aaron alluded to, the photography is downright nauseating. It’s as if the cinematographer allowed a child to play with the color correction filters, until everything was a drab and muted maze hue, and then pumped in some washed out cyan to pretty it up.

    If you think Bruce Willis walking around repeating the same cheesy lines is fun, you must have really loved ‘The Last Stand’. Oh, wait…

  5. Rob

    I’m just glad it’s a new Die Hard with Bruce Willis in it, I hope he never stops making them. I’ve read some bad reviews of the movie too but I’m still looking forward to it. No matter what anyone says I’ll be buying a ticket to this & buying it on blu ray.

  6. Karen

    I was looking forward to seeing this, but since your review contains spoilers it pretty much ruined it for me. Thanks for that 🙁

  7. Giancarlo

    I never post but with this film, I must….My expectations were low, but not even I could have thought it to be the worst of the series…why? Editing is awful, I am convinced it was shot as pg-13 with edits for the R (note: most fbombs are uttered off camera and squibs galore) and when a truck flips over 3x with McClane at the wheel and he somehow manages to escape, how can he stand in the middle of the street in broad daylight with no scratches or blood…it is a terrible film completely disconnected with the heart of the series and I am just frustrated that they can’t make one good one to close the series off – John McTiernan, end your legal troubles and return !!!!

  8. Andy Gilleand

    I agree. I thought it was fine for this movie to be a bit mindless action, but I do think the next needs to get back to the series roots to end the series on a good note. Bring back intelligent plans from both the enemies and McClane, rather than just having the characters reacting to the action. Most importantly, bring back the SUSPENSE. One of the most important aspects of the original has been less and less each movie, almost entirely absent in the fifth movie whatsoever. They need to focus on suspense rather than action and spectacle. As long as they focus on suspense and get a smart script, I think the next movie will be a good ending to the series.

  9. Thanks for this review…I’m so glad someone else enjoyed this flick…I had no problems spending 8 bucks to see some fun mindless action for an hour and a half. No Die Hard will top the first one and even though the new Die Hard’s seem to go more mindless, I’m still on board.

  10. Mike Attebery

    I say get a couple of fresh film school grads to write a script that gives the original film the respect it deserves. Make sure no “creative” execs eff the script up before the movie is shot. Get Walter Hill, Martin Campbell, Joe Carnahan, Stuart Baird, or Jan de Bont to direct.

  11. HuskerGuy

    Saw this last night and agree 100% with Aaron. The movie was a lazy mess and qualifies as crap.

    I’ve really enjoyed the first four movies and this one just doesn’t even come close. Sadly I wasn’t overly surprised given the previews I’ve seen, but I was still disappointed.

    • So a cut down PG-13 fourth film was actually enjoyable? I havent even watched number 4 again since it came out in its entirety because it was blasphemous to make that PG-13, eliminating all his language, putting in a sidekick that wasnt needed and of course the bad editing, especially with dubbed over dialog and this 5th one is the worst in the series??

      Do people remember how completely ridiculous Die Hard 2 is, has anyone gone back and actually watched that one lately? I mean McClane blows up an air plane by lighting its fuel trail from the freaking ground, launches himself with an ejector seat clean out of a giant explosion that would have killed him, yet he cant roll over a truck 3 times and live?

      Have people hating part 5 actually watched any of the previous Die Hards? To me it doesnt seem that way…..

      • HuskerGuy

        I expect ridiculousness from Die Hard movies, but I also expect some sense of cohesion, effort, and plot.

        I found Die Hard 5 to be lazy in many of the ways Aaron has already pointed out. McClane’s one-liners seemed forced/lame, there was zero effort to explain the intentions behind any of the villains, and the bitter CIA son angle didn’t work for me. It could have been a good movie, but I got the impression that it was a half-assed effort on pretty much everyone’s part. I had no issues with the crazy chases and other action scenes, because as I said, I expect ridiculous and over the top action with Die Hard.

        Regarding #4, the sidekick was essential to the story and I found him to be both funny (I’m a fan of Justin Long anyway) and a good way to mix up the formula by throwing in tech pieces (albeit ridicululous, yes). Would I have preferred it to be R, sure. It didn’t bother me a ton though because I found the plot to be interesting and felt the movie kept a solid pace throughout.

  12. Sad fan

    This movie, film, 90 minute insult to the series is the biggest pile of crap that I’ve seen in at least 10 years. I’ve followed the John McClane character since I was 8 and to this day I have compared all action movies to this series. What John fat ass Moore and Mr. Willis have done is kill John McClane and the series and ruined all that it has become. I understand you need to appeal to new audiences and give the fans what they want but all this damn movie did was insult its viewers across the board. Those attending WANT character set up, action scenes that make sense and villians we can understand. There are enough useless action films out there where we have low expectations. This is Die Hard! Fans who saw the previous 4, expect quality. To say anything positive about this piece of crap, is to not know one damn thing about the character or the theme of the previous films. Sure Live Free has small issues but it still represented who the character is or should I say was, and kept it interesting. This film is such a mess and makes no sense. Terrible dialog, shaky cam and action scenes that dont make sense, do not make this crap fun. Clearly this was intended to be PG-13, as was Live Free, but the editing in this was so poor that a monkey jerking off while editing, could have done a better job. This is NOT a die hard film. I walked out crushed and have no plans on watching it again. John Moore needs to punched in the nuts and Mr. Willis should be ashamed.

    • I’m still not understanding here how Live Free or Die Hard is superior to this R rated sequel, the fact ALONE that Live Free was made for PG-13 and they cut his most memorable line, should easily put it below this one.

      Now I havent seen this one yet, but plan to next weekend and I still cant fathom (based on the review here) that so many people think its the worst in the series. If anything killed McClane’s character it was Live Free with all the cut language, that alone was enough to neuter the franchise, so instead they return the language ridden action and now everyone hates it?? I seriously think some people dont know what a Die Hard movie is about

      • The point is that ‘Die Hard 5’ is lousy, lazy filmmaking plain and simple. You can add in all the cuss words you want, it still doesn’t suddenly make it a decent ‘Die Hard’.

        ‘Die Hard’ redefined a floundering genre. It meshed together suspense, heroism, villainy, and action into something great. ‘Die Hard 5’ doesn’t even try to do that. It’s incoherent to the nth degree. It’s like watching ‘Domino’ but with more edits and less dialogue.

        Come back and talk about it once you’ve actually witnessed the brain-bashing lobotomy that is ‘Die Hard 5’.

        I agree that ‘Die Hard 4’ isn’t all that great. But, say if ‘Die Hard 4’ was a fart, ‘Die Hard 5’ would be a month-long case of Montezuma’s Revenge.

  13. Nico Robin

    This movie is the Superman IV of Die Hard. It is the Jaws the Revenge of Die Hard. It is the Phantom Menace of Die Hard. I will also add that it is the Batman & Robin, Spider-Man 3, and Wolverine of Die Hard. This movie is THAT bad. If you like garbage that was dumped into fire, then this is the movie for you.

  14. Vance

    Watched the films in the DIE HARD set again last weekend. Not sure why people keep crapping on Live Free or Die Hard. Just because he didn’t say “fucker”? Wow, there’s some intellect. While The DH films have always been action fests, there was always a certain level of humor in the dialog, so that the film could breathe in between action sequences. DH5 had none of that, because it was just a dunderheaded mess. You never saw McClane thinking about his next move, working through the problem. Say what you will about DH4, but there were plenty of moments like that. Yeah, the jet scene was over the top. But, for the most part, it was a great DH film. It also got much better reviews. The action scenes in DH5 seemed more fitting for THE TRANSPORTER, not DIE HARD.