Things one thinks about while watching Bruce Willis kick Russky butt, deep in the heart of Mother Russia in A Good Day to Die Hard:
- I remember interviewing Die Hard director John McTiernan back in the day, and he described Willis's John McClane as, "an ordinary guy reacting to extraordinary circumstances."
A quarter-century later, that ordinary guy gets flung off a spinning helicopter through a plate-glass office window and dusts himself off. He and his CIA operative son (Jai Courtney) TWICE throw themselves out windows several storeys high to have their falls broken by scaffolding and such.
By comparison, I'm three years younger than Bruce, and I tore up my leg tripping while jogging, requiring a year of physio. I'm pretty sure the plate glass would kill me.
- It would be awesome to script-write Hollywood action films that take place in foreign countries, since nobody knows anything about anywhere. A Good Day to Die Hard begins in Moscow, where McClane is trying to save his son, who in turn is trying to save a Russian billionaire (Sebastian Koch) from a corrupt government higher-up (or so it seems).
After much impressive death and destruction, the McClanes race a helicopter gunship by car to Chernobyl, where supposedly secret files are hidden in radioactive debris. That's about 500 miles, yet the chopper barely beats them there.
Also, Chernobyl is in Ukraine, which is its own country now - one which pays close attention to its Russian former occupiers. I'm pretty sure a fully-armed Russian helicopter gunship would be intercepted as soon as it crossed the border, as would a couple of Americans with guns in their car.
That's not to say everything in AGDTDH is unrealistic. The CIA are portrayed as too incompetent to plan so much as a birthday party, which rings true.
But this latest, wheezing Die Hard installment does fall prey to Red Dawn syndrome -- the inability to identify a viable enemy. We're not at the point yet of calling out the Russians (Vladimir Putin isn't even mentioned in this movie), though the Russian government, the Russian mob and corrupt billionaires all take turns putting on the villain hat. It seems like every 15 minutes, somebody the McClanes think was a friend points a gun at them, which makes for some confused plotting.
There's also some pretty mawkish dialogue about fathers and sons and whatever.
None of which really matters. Journeyman director John Moore (Max Payne) knows his job is to meet the blow-'em-up bar of previous Die Hard movies, and he stages some pretty gnarly car chases (with millions of rubles in body-shop work in the offing), bombs that take out entire courthouses, and the most powerful incendiary grenade explosion ever.
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