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Worst of 2013 - A Good Day to Die Hard (dir. John Moore)

A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise, with Bruce Willis’ John McClane traveling to Russia in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged son, Jack (played by Jai Courtney). Unfortunately Jack has taken after his father’s tendency to get into bad scrapes, and turns out he’s up and joined the CIA as a spy working to extract an important asset, Komarov, from certain death. Komarov claims he has information on Chagarin, a Russian power player who has a reputation for bankrolling and masterminding various terrorist activities. Naturally, Chagarin wants Komarov dead, and it is up to Jack McClane to ensure his safe passage from the country. Jack’s operation hits a detour when his father crashes the party, which leads to Komarov being captured. Despite the obvious yet unexplained animosity between father and son, John McClane Sr and Jr team up to rescue Komarov. While the film doesn’t necessarily sound bad on paper, its execution is a monumental disaster. This may come as no surprise to many, given that the film was directed by Max Payne's John Moore and written by X-Men Origins: Wolverine's Skip Woods, both men having committed some egregious crimes against humanity with their awful movies, and who really just went batshit crazy (for lack of a better phrase) with this film. A Good Day to Die Hard is 90 minutes of your life you will never get back, so mind-numbingly awful it almost makes you want to stab your feet with broken glass while hobbling out of the theater (read more).

Worst of 2013 - A Good Day to Die Hard (dir. John Moore)

A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise, with Bruce Willis’ John McClane traveling to Russia in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged son, Jack (played by Jai Courtney). Unfortunately Jack has taken after his father’s tendency to get into bad scrapes, and turns out he’s up and joined the CIA as a spy working to extract an important asset, Komarov, from certain death. Komarov claims he has information on Chagarin, a Russian power player who has a reputation for bankrolling and masterminding various terrorist activities. Naturally, Chagarin wants Komarov dead, and it is up to Jack McClane to ensure his safe passage from the country. Jack’s operation hits a detour when his father crashes the party, which leads to Komarov being captured. Despite the obvious yet unexplained animosity between father and son, John McClane Sr and Jr team up to rescue Komarov. While the film doesn’t necessarily sound bad on paper, its execution is a monumental disaster. This may come as no surprise to many, given that the film was directed by Max Payne's John Moore and written by X-Men Origins: Wolverine's Skip Woods, both men having committed some egregious crimes against humanity with their awful movies, and who really just went batshit crazy (for lack of a better phrase) with this film. A Good Day to Die Hard is 90 minutes of your life you will never get back, so mind-numbingly awful it almost makes you want to stab your feet with broken glass while hobbling out of the theater (read more).

Bruce Willis has cemented himself as a bona fide Hollywood action star. So it’s no wonder why Everybody Wants to Kill Bruce, in this clever short film edited together using clips from various Bruce Willis films, from Twelve Monkeys and The Fifth Element to Pulp Fiction, to name a few. What makes this short especially awesome though is that it incorporates characters and clips from various other films (the ones from Death Proof and The Hurt Locker are particularly cool), really making it seem as though everyone is just after a piece of Bruce Willis.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)
A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise, with Bruce Willis’ John McClane traveling to Russia in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged son, Jack (played by Jai Courtney). Unfortunately Jack has taken after his father’s tendency to get into bad scrapes, and turns out he’s up and joined the CIA as a spy working to extract an important asset, Komarov, from certain death. Komarov claims he has information on Chagarin, a Russian power player who has a reputation for bankrolling and masterminding various terrorist activities. Naturally, Chagarin wants Komarov dead, and it is up to Jack McClane to ensure his safe passage from the country. Jack’s operation hits a detour when his father crashes the party, which leads to Komarov being captured. Despite the obvious yet unexplained animosity between father and son, John McClane Sr and Jr team up to rescue Komarov. While the film doesn’t necessarily sound bad on paper, its execution is a monumental disaster. This may come as no surprise to many, given that the film was directed by Max Payne's John Moore and written by X-Men Origins: Wolverine's Skip Woods, both men having committed some egregious crimes against humanity with their awful movies, and who really just went batshit crazy (for lack of a better phrase) with this film. A Good Day to Die Hard is 90 minutes of your life you will never get back, so mind-numbingly awful it almost makes you want to stab your feet with broken glass while hobbling out of the theater.
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From the second the opening credits appear, the film plunges directly into a terrorist plot without bothering to set up the story. There, right out of the gate, is the film’s central problem. It thinks the franchise is all about blowing stuff up and the inclusion of various other mindless action sequences. Writer Skip Woods clearly had no regard for plot or character development, unsurprising considering he committed the same debauchery with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (look at what he did to Deadpool and tell me that wasn’t a crime worthy of being flogged). There really is no other way to put it except to say that the film’s plot was stupid. There was an attempt to hatch a conspiracy and a really miserable effort to introduce an unexpected twist to the audience, neither of which were successfully pulled off. Not to mention that the film was riddled with the most pathetic character stereotypes I’ve ever seen in an action movie. At one point in the film, the villain Alik, played by Rasha Bukvic, has both McClane’s captured, awaiting execution by his hand. Alik, in classic villain style, goes on a diatribe about how he hates Americans. He deplores cowboys especially, he says and adds, rather cockily, that “It’s not 1986 anymore, you can’t just run in guns blazing,” perhaps in reference to the original Die Hard, released around the same time. What makes this line laughable is that the original Die Hard was much smarter and way more entertaining than its incredibly disappointing 2013 counterpart. 
So right at conception, this film had a slew of issues. I don’t believe the writer understood John McClane or the Die Hard series. What made John McClane such an interesting character is that he’s an unlikely hero. With a devil-may-care attitude, he’s a man who you know you can count on to save the day, but who really could not care less if there wasn’t something more personal at stake. In the original Die Hard, McClane isn’t on the rampage because he cares about these rich hacks at the Nakatomi Corporation. In fact, he just happened to be there because he was trying to reconcile with his estranged wife. The way I see the original Die Hard, it’s a domestic situation that just so happened to be interrupted by a terrorist plot. Throughout the film, McClane often feels as though he’s saving the day because he just wants to finish the conversation he had with his wife. Not only is this an interesting angle for an action movie, but it also provides some good motivation for the main character, who audiences will only undoubtedly root for given that he is forced into this situation but never intended to be right smack in the middle of it. A Good Day to Die Hard, on the other hand, while it utilized some of the same conventions in the original (reconciliation with a loved one as motivation, wrong place at the wrong time, terrorist plot), the movie felt so alien, echoing how out of place this film is in the Die Hard universe. Even the inclusion of the famous line “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” seemed totally out of place in this movie, proving that A Good Day to Die Hard just isn’t a Die Hard movie, and audiences would do well to ignore it completely from the series and just strike it entirely from the record. 

One of the reasons this film was so disappointing was that it was absolutely devoid of humor. Bruce Willis was given a series of one-liners that were neither funny nor clearly audible, as he hulks down a busy highway in a truck, chasing down criminals. It was a complete waste of Bruce Willis’ badassery, which is completely unacceptable. The man is an icon of action movies, yet this movie makes his character feel outdated and irrelevant. Speaking of wasted talent, Jai Courtney, who was fantastic in Starz’s Spartacus series, played John McClane Jr. or Jack. Courtney has unfortunately been reduced to lesser roles in action films, starting with the Tom Cruise-led Jack Reacher and now with the newest Die Hard installment. Courtney has proven himself an excellent actor, but his film roles have saddled him with characters who are one-dimensional and uninteresting. Apart from wasting a totally good actor like Courtney, there was also the matter of a criminally underused Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who was in the film for all of two minutes, playing the fretting daughter who was essentially there to say “Aw shucks, dad” at Bruce Willis’ propensity to get into crazy, life-or-death situations. 
The epic failure of this movie really speaks to the way action movies are made in the digital age, where a concrete and coherent plot is ditched in favor for explosions and showy special effects. At one point I closed my eyes for about 5 minutes and all I could hear was rapid gunfire and not much else. I could have slept through the film and would not have missed a thing. This whole idea of bigger and louder being better is abused in A Good Day to Die Hard. It almost sets back action movies a bit, because it seems to underestimate audience intelligence and attention, serving up mindless violence after an another because anything smarter would be dull when in fact, it’s the exact opposite. An action movie does not have to be dumb. It does not have to sacrifice solid characters and a well thought out story for the biggest, baddest explosions or drawn out chase sequences. While we have certainly seen advancements in technology that allow us to do more, especially with actions films, we often use them as a crutch when we don’t have a good story to tell. A Good Day to Die Hard is a horrible movie, and it pains me to say this as someone who derived immense enjoyment from the original and still has a special place in her heart for one of the original action heroes, John McClane. But maybe we should put nostalgia aside for a moment and just be honest with ourselves. Perhaps the Die Hard franchise would actually benefit greatly from just staying dead.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise, with Bruce Willis’ John McClane traveling to Russia in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged son, Jack (played by Jai Courtney). Unfortunately Jack has taken after his father’s tendency to get into bad scrapes, and turns out he’s up and joined the CIA as a spy working to extract an important asset, Komarov, from certain death. Komarov claims he has information on Chagarin, a Russian power player who has a reputation for bankrolling and masterminding various terrorist activities. Naturally, Chagarin wants Komarov dead, and it is up to Jack McClane to ensure his safe passage from the country. Jack’s operation hits a detour when his father crashes the party, which leads to Komarov being captured. Despite the obvious yet unexplained animosity between father and son, John McClane Sr and Jr team up to rescue Komarov. While the film doesn’t necessarily sound bad on paper, its execution is a monumental disaster. This may come as no surprise to many, given that the film was directed by Max Payne's John Moore and written by X-Men Origins: Wolverine's Skip Woods, both men having committed some egregious crimes against humanity with their awful movies, and who really just went batshit crazy (for lack of a better phrase) with this film. A Good Day to Die Hard is 90 minutes of your life you will never get back, so mind-numbingly awful it almost makes you want to stab your feet with broken glass while hobbling out of the theater.

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I don’t think about it too much. It just always has seemed whimsical to me, to think about it. You don’t get an Oscar for comedy, and you don’t get it for shooting people. You get it for novelty, of being fascinating to watch in some character role. But the Die Hard stuff and Dirty Harry are all fraught with the same thing that every story is fraught with.

- Bruce Willis on never being nominated for an Oscar, GQ Magazine 
BEST OF 2012
LOOPER - written and directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.





In the year 2074, time travel has already been invented, but has been outlawed. Criminal syndicates use it as a tool to dispose of their enemies, by sending them into the past to be eliminated by assassins called “loopers”. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of these loopers. Joe has never let a target escape, until the target turns out to be his future self (played by Bruce Willis). Rian Johnson’s Looper is a wildly entertaining, thought-provoking film about the cyclical nature of human action, and how this seems to be magnified when coupled with such an elusive element such as time travel. Nathan Johnson’s gritty, industrial soundtrack amazingly amplified the atmosphere of the movie as well (full review).

BEST OF 2012

LOOPER - written and directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.

In the year 2074, time travel has already been invented, but has been outlawed. Criminal syndicates use it as a tool to dispose of their enemies, by sending them into the past to be eliminated by assassins called “loopers”. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of these loopers. Joe has never let a target escape, until the target turns out to be his future self (played by Bruce Willis). Rian Johnson’s Looper is a wildly entertaining, thought-provoking film about the cyclical nature of human action, and how this seems to be magnified when coupled with such an elusive element such as time travel. Nathan Johnson’s gritty, industrial soundtrack amazingly amplified the atmosphere of the movie as well (full review).