‘Die Hard’ franchise still has some life in it

The Fresno BeeFebruary 15, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    What: “A Good Day to Die Hard”

    Rating: R

    Where: UEC Theater 12, College 9, Roxy

    Info: www.diehardmovie.com

The plot of “A Good Day to Die Hard” has more holes than a 25-year-old pair of favorite socks. But just like those tattered toe covers, there’s something about the latest in this long-running film series to make you glad it’s still around.

Bruce Willis dusts off the tough-guy attitude to reprise his most iconic role, Detective John McClane — a man who always seems to be in the wrong place at the right time. This time, he travels to Russia in hopes of saving his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), from life in prison. He ends up in the middle of a political and military mess — the norm for McClane.

It’s been a quarter of a century since McClane first yippee-ki-yayed his way into action film lore with his quick quips and even quicker trigger finger. He’s a little older, but the verbal and bullet barrages haven’t slowed down. The big difference this time is he has a whole new country to blast.

Those blasts are what make this movie work. From a chase scene that destroys almost 200 cars to the helicopter attack at the end, director John Moore has made “A Good Day to Die Hard” a high-caliber thrill ride. If all you want from a movie is action — plenty of action — then this one doesn’t disappoint.

Those of you who at least want a semblance of a plot should go elsewhere. Writers Skip Woods and Roderick Thorp were so busy worrying about the big action scenes in the script that they failed to include even a moment that comes close to reality. There are gun and car battles on Russian highways without anyone noticing. McClane drives a vehicle over a line of cars filled with passengers and no one seems to care that he might have fatally hurt innocent people. The setting for the big finale requires a leap of faith so big that even Evil Knievel couldn’t make the jump.

These quibbles are overcome with fun performances. Willis continues to play the crime-stopping cop with a gritty glee and gusto. He’s never met a man he didn’t like to shoot or a one-liner he didn’t love to deliver. Rest assured, his trademark quote is tucked nicely into the folds of all the explosions and crashes.

Courtney’s a welcome addition who picks up a little of the action. He and Willis have a nice love-hate, father-son relationship that makes the moments between the action scenes — and there aren’t that many — passable. Yuliya Snigir adds a nice twist in her role as the film’s beauty who can be a beast.

Did we need another “Die Hard?” No. But as long as the action is this intense and superficially fun, then keep them coming.

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