The LB Movie Review: Die Hard 5

Is this the one where famed cop John McClane finally does die? Maybe, but not in the way you’d expect…

I’ll keep this short, as much for your sake as for my own.

A movie like this really doesn’t deserve the time or effort to be discussed at length. The people responsible care not a damn about the audience, nor do they even give a shit about the franchise they have so decisively run into the ground. So why the hell should we care?

To be fair, “Die Hard” hasn’t been itself since the 3rd instalment, particularly in the way its protagonist John McClane keeps getting more and more indestructible. So I suppose the makers of “Die Hard 5” are just taking the character to its logical conclusion. This is pretty much a superhero movie. And that’s why I hate it. It betrays everything that made the 1988 original so special. Bruce Willis’ McClane was one of the most important creations in Action Cinema. In stark contrast to invulnerable musclemen like Schwarzenegger and Stallone, this guy was a regular human being, albeit one with razor-sharp street smarts and wit. He could get tired, frustrated, and injured. His vulnerability, physical as well as emotional, was what made him so relatable.

I counted at least 5 different incidents in this movie where no mortal man could possibly have survived. At least not without serious injury. Yet each time, McClane strolls out with nothing more than minor cuts. There’s always a certain suspension of disbelief required when watching an action movie. But this is just ridiculous. I can still forgive the cartoonisation of the character if I’m invested in his story and in him as a person. Watching Bruce Willis go through the motions, it struck me: “Who the hell is this guy?” There’s barely any trace of the John McClane we got to know in the first couple of films. He makes really stupid decisions seemingly because the script calls for him to do so, and he keeps saying stuff that sound more like catchphrases rather than anything a real person would say. Even his trademark line feels forced-in, out of some supposed expectation that a “Die Hard” movie isn’t complete without it. In short, the franchise has descended into self-parody.

You know, I don’t even blame director John Moore. The guy is certainly guilty of being a hack, and it’s no different here. He shoots the action with the same hyper-generic, lifeless, faux-freneticism as always, and the fact that I found the movie dead boring comes as no surprise. I am, however, quite pissed off at Willis. He IS John McClane, just like how Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones. As an actor, he has the inside track on what makes his character tick. And as a movie star, he does have the clout to ensure his character is well-represented on the page. Because it starts with the script. It always does. I refuse to believe that Willis read the piece-of-crap script that Skip Woods puked out, and thought with a clear conscience that it was a good representation of McClane. The guy is also an executive producer on this, so he could’ve made improvements if he wanted to. Bottom line is – Willis took this job for the money, character integrity be damned.

There is so much else that’s wrong with this movie. The villain(s) are beyond useless, not to mention deathly dull. The father-son plot had some potential but is squandered once again by piss-poor writing that pays lip service to the generational gap and the estranged “absentee parent” angle, and then does nothing else with it. But the biggest cardinal sin that the film commits is the one thing I’ve been harping on from the start of this review/teardown. This is NOT a “Die Hard” film. Even the title (“A Good Day To Die Hard”) sounds suspiciously like they’re taking the piss. Well, to the studio, producers, director and star, I say: “Yippee ki-yay and fuck you too.”

As far as I’m concerned, John McClane is dead. Consider this an overdue funeral.


Note: As if the movie wasn’t bad enough, my viewing experience was further ruined by idiotic censorship where chunks of dialogue — along with the entire audio, music, sound effects and all — were completely blanked out. This despite the movie being rated “18 PL”. When I contacted the Malaysian Censorship Board about this issue, they did not reply. I also emailed Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC), but received a very curt reply which essentially conveyed an “It’s not our problem” attitude. This is symptomatic of what’s wrong with our country.

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Storyteller by trade and dreamer by nature, Wai has been deeply nuts about the celluloid world since the first time he discovered he could watch a story instead of reading it. But he likes writing about it. Wai goes by a single name because he likes to avoid any “Imperial entanglements” (a.k.a. “conflict of interest with the powers that be” for those of you who don’t speak Star Wars) in his employment. Plus, cool people use one-word names. He has just set up a movie website, the first of its kind in Malaysia, in an effort to foster greater filmic knowledge for the rakyat. Check out

Posted on 15 February 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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