Thursday 21 February 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard

…aka A Bad Day To Go To The Cinema.

Expectations were never high for the fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise – Bruce is getting old, and the basic premise was creaking badly even last time round – but this risible tosh is a whole new kind of bad. It’s the cinematic equivalent of being tea-bagged by portly, minor-bothering Liberal MP Cyril Smith for and hour and a half. Only worse.

Given Willis’ age, they’ve inevitably gone for the ‘lost son’ angle. The what, you ask? Basically, this means the producers have employed a young beefcake to do all the ‘action’ stuff that Bruce, as the nominal star of this action movie, is meant to be doing.

(Anyone who saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, and witnessed the unedifying sight of Harrison Ford gingerly treading about in the background while the always-punchable Shia Lebouf threw himself under lorries and off cliff ledges, will recognise the form.)

The story, as always, involves our chrome-domed hero blundering unawares into the middle of bullet-strewn bedlam. This time, Bruce goes to Moscow to rescue his son, who’s been arrested as a terrorist but is really a top secret agent. Yippe-ki-CI-Yay, in fact.

Obviously, everything starts blowing up as soon as Willis sets foot at the scene, then the usual terrorists-apparently-wanting-nuclear-armagedon-but-really-just-thieves-after-all plot (copyright: Alan Rickman, 25 years ago) cranks into gear once more.

Exploding Helicopter has no idea who the actor playing the son is, having never seen him in a movie before. And on this evidence, it may well be some time before he troubles our screens again. Indeed, one of the less bearable aspects of the movie is watching the estranged pair’s torturous journey from flinty awkwardness to ‘I love you too, Dad’, delivered on both sides with a copper-bottomed lack of conviction.

But here’s the really troubling thing: the more the son punches and shoots and falls and gets stabbed, the louder grows that nagging, existential question: what does an action hero do when he has next to no action in his own movie?

Bruce Willis: Occasionally acts in his own movie
The answer: stand around uncomfortably while occasionally firing a machine-gun or delivering yet another lame quip. That’s largely why this is such a terrible movie. These days, Brucie chirping ‘Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker’ (yes, he does) has all the grace and novelty of Chesney Hawkes getting up at a pub karaoke night to belt out ‘The One and Only’.

Put it this way: if you showed this film to someone who didn’t know who Bruce Willis was, they’d wonder who that old bald guy was who kept standing around in the middle of all the scenes?

He’s become like one of those drunk fans who run on to the pitch in the middle of a Premiership game – right in the centre of things but not really part of it at all. Aged 57, he’s a spectator in his own movie and it’s painful to watch.

And sadly, no-one else is there to take up the slack. Granted, they probably cast an unknown as the son because the famously prickly and egocentric Willis didn’t want a younger star stealing his fading limelight, but you could always at least count on a colourful baddie in the Die Hard movies. The absence here of a ‘name’ villain speaks volumes about the franchise’s decreasing power. Where Rickman and Irons led, there’s now an assortment of beardy Russians from central casting. Nyet, thanks.

Incredibly, Willis has already confirmed there will be a Die Hard 6 – and it won’t necessarily see that it will end there. Mock if you like, but one day you’ll most likely pay good money to see Die Hard 9, where Bruce’s no-name grandson biffs the baddies while a wheelchair-bound Brucie, looking entirely like one of his own octegenerian testicles, pulls off his oxygen mask and yells ‘Yippee-ki-kolostomy-bag!’

The weird thing is, that would probably be more entertaining than this steaming pile of ordure.

Exploding helicopter innovation

So, to the explosion. It might be pertinent to warn there are spoilers ahead, but it’s doubtful anyone could ruin the plot any more than the writer already has, so let’s plough on.

The beardy Russian conscientious objector incredibly turns out to be the baddie, so – in a moment typical of the film – the no-name son gets shot and does the actual legwork of throwing him off the top of a building in Chernobyl (don’t ask) while Bruce skulks off camera somewhere having a fag / phoning his agent / demanding a bigger trailer.

Beardface plummets to a splatty end. Outraged, his sexy villainess daughter gets all Al Quaeda on our heroes’ asses and deliberately rams a huge military helicopter straight into the glass-fronted building where they stand helpless. And misses them. As the chopper smashes in to the building and explodes, Bruce and No-name jump out beside it and naturally land in a swimming pool that happens to be directly below them. The whole scene looks like the computer-generated nonsense it so patently is.


Do you know this man?
For the first time ever, Exploding Helicopter actually fell asleep for five minutes in a cinema during this movie – and has to report it was the most fulfilling five minutes of the whole enterprise.


How long have you got? Let’s just do the script. Exploding Helicopter has seen a lot of bad movies, both blockbusters and small fry, but never one where such a huge budget has been coupled with such a piss-poor script. It makes The Chronicles of Riddick look like Citizen Kane. Every single aspect of the plot is so by-the-numbers, it seems to have been written by a computer programme – possibly an Amstrad home computer, circa 1985.

Special mention goes to the scene where Bruce starts emotionally unloading to a Russian bloke he’s literally only just met about how he wishes he’d been a better dad but still can’t express his paternal love, while the lumpen son listens in round the corner trying to pull off a ‘looking emotional’ expression. I’ve seen school plays with more conviction.

Favourite quote

“You know what I hate about Americans? Everything.”

Interesting fact

In the week of the UK premiere, Bruce put in a notoriously foul-tempered tour of British TV and radio studios, snipping at interviewers and petulantly refusing to answer questions across a variety of formats. It all sounds much more interesting than the film.

Review by: Chopper

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