From that very moment when John Moore was appointed to steer the fifth Die Hard — the John Moore who wasn’t able to make things cool with the adaptation of Max Payne — everybody started to think (and say out loud that) it is going to suck on every level there is, especially after the plot was unveiled and people had been told that John McClane was going to go to Mother Russia to crush, kill and destroy every bad guy just to save his son Jack’s ass. And to judge by reviews, everybody had decided that A Good Day To Die Hard would suck anyway long before the movie was finished.
But I have to say that the flick is not that bad, and even the main theme (the reason for everything is money) is still there, just like old times. Although I can’t say that I liked it very much. Those are right who say that even in comparison with Die Hard 4.0 the result of Moore’s work looks like an opened puzzle box, but the puzzle isn’t finished.
On the one hand we’ve got Skip Woods who remembers that in the last film John McClane was quiet as a grave most of the time and nobody liked that, everybody wanted that very McClane from the first three movies. So Woods wrote the script where our old friend John went senile and started to crack jokes and say things, but there was a slight problem. He joked, but it was not very funny and, which is much worse, he had been choosing the wrong time for it. He laughed, joked and made that thing with his eyes when he should’ve kicked asses, shoot from guns and smoke cigarettes. But on some level this works: old hero is more like the good old hero from the first movie that he was in the fourth, and it seems to me that nobody cares that people may change with time. But anyway, we all thing that this is it, in a second our old Roy the Cowboy will unleash hell! But John Moore tells the cameraman: now you shoot like you’d been drinking all night long. And this is how the movie looks, and it is him, Jonathan Sela, who is considered to be responsible for the viewers’ desire to rip off someone’s hands. It is not that hard to watch the movie in the moments of peace, quiet and calmness, but when the action starts it is easier to go blind than to understand who is chasing, shooting and killing whom. And then suddenly Moore remembers about the Max Payne movie he have made and makes the scene with a helicopter gunning the building with John and is son inside. And you feel it in your guts: yup, it was him who made that weakly and sucky movie with Mark Wahlberg. It may sound like a nonsense, but John Moore has his own style, even though I wish he hadn’t one at all.
On the other hand, Woods’ screenplay is capable to set at a gaze even without the director’s help. Pripyat? Okay, we’ve got what’s everything has to do with the Chernobyl disaster, but why the goddamn hell should anyone to go there and keep there something small but important? Especially if the writer has no idea where this place is. Well, he has definitely heard that it’s in Ukraine, but I guess he thinks that Ukraine is somewhere near Moscow: I find no other reason how the hell could the stolen car with tons of guns in it be there simultaneously with the gunship Mi-24?
But the main problem of A Good Day To Die Hard is not in the screenwriter or the director. There is no conflict in it. There is no real confrontation. There is no real bad guy. In the first, second and third movies we had very charismatic, very flamboyant and, let’s admit it, wowable antagonists. In the fourth the antagonist had a hot and spicy Maggie Q who kicked McClane’s ass like it was someone like Jonah Hill, not Bruce Willis. But here we have nothing and no one. Chagarin played by Russian actor Sergei Kolesnikov is just a contour, it is not flat enough to be considered a flat character. That Dancer dude, Alik, is a jackass not a evil genius, so in the end we have Yulia Snigir who is too sweet and too hot to think of her as of a badass character, and Komarov, and I’ve got to be honest, this isn’t a guy who is capable to do stuff that Hans Gruber, Colonel Stuart and Peter “Simon” Gruber did. Besides, John McClane just doesn’t have enough personal reasons to go deeper in that thing that is happening around him. He saved his son in the first 15 minutes, for Pete’s sake. CIA doesn’t want Chagarin to become a minister of defense? Oh yeah, The Bold and Bald One is such a patriot that he just can’t stay away from it. Back in the days the troubles became and obstacle for John McClane on his way to happiness just because he is a magnet for bad stuff, but since Die Hard 4.0 it happens just because it has to be John McClane. I am not sure that I’m making it clear enough, but it doesn’t hold the water. At all. I remember that John Moore said once that in the first movie it was one building, in the second movie it was an airport, in the third one it was New York, in the fourth one it was America, and now it is time for the whole world to become a battlefield of John McClane and Bad Guys United. Nope, it still does not hold the water. If there is going to be a sixth installment, those guy have to make it back, like it used to be, to close the loop. And let John to solve all his issues with Holly, for the love of God, he did already make things right with everybody others of his family.