(US/UK - 2013)
Directed by John Moore. Written by Skip Woods. Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Rasha Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yulia Snigir, Amaury Nolasco, Sergey Kolesnikov. (R, 97 mins)
At one point in A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, the latest and by far the least of the 25-year-old action franchise, someone asks the villain "So this is about money?" to which Bruce Willis' John McClane interrupts "It's always about the money."
That pretty much sums up Willis' level of commitment to this dreary and uninspired time-waster that feels the need to justify itself by mentioning in the closing credits just how many people the project employed and how many hours they put in. Indeed, this wasn't a scripted film with characters in a narrative. It was put together in a strictly mechanical, assembly-line fashion with the actors being the least relevant part of the equation. There's nothing wrong with crafting a formulaic action picture with the intention of making money, but it helps if anyone involved can at least pretend that they give a shit.
THE LAST STAND and Stallone's BULLET TO THE HEAD combined, both of which are infinitely better films). Five minutes after getting off the plane, McClane is commandeering a truck through the streets of Moscow and dodging a rocket that's launched at him. He and Jack are not only immune to radiation poisoning, but they're involved in flipover accidents, hurl themselves through plate glass windows, fall through floor after floor of exterior scaffolding, and McClane dangles from a truck that's dangling from a chopper, often emerging from these incidents with little more than some scratches and always with the same "I'm on vacation!" wisecrack (Vacation? Weren't you there to get your kid out of jail?). These action scenes are completely CGI'd and look about as convincing as one of those action/explosion FX iPhone apps. I mean, seriously. Look at this:
|Actual shot from the film|
Several people in the audience applauded at the conclusion of an utterly incoherent car chase. Some of them emitted audible "Whoa!"s during shots like the one above. What is wrong with these people? Do they really think this a stunt being performed by Bruce Willis or an actual human being? Is there anything in the above shot that's real? What are they "Whoa!"-ing about? It's like saying "Whoa!" when Wile E. Coyote plummets into a canyon. This is what passes for a thrilling, aesthetically-pleasing action sequence these days? I must confess that I wasn't completely disliking this movie in the early stages, but the sillier and more PS3-like this thing got, the more the audience was positively responding to it. That's when I started to actively loathe it. If you're gonna get a shit sandwich like this and sit there with your maw agape asking for seconds while ignoring BULLET TO THE HEAD, then you deserve all the terrible movies you get. And be sure to watch them on your phone while you're at it.
THE EXPENDABLES 2, he did everything short of turn to the camera, wink to the audience, and ask if they were having a good time. It's all in the attitude. When Willis finally lets loose with "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!" here, he does it with all the spirit and enthusiasm of someone reading a DMV eye chart. He spends the entire film looking inconvenienced and like he'd rather be somewhere else. And did you see Willis on THE LATE SHOW with Letterman last week? They showed a CGI-heavy action clip and Willis looked vaguely embarrassed. He's a smart guy. He's made good movies, and he can be a great actor when he wants to be. He knows this is garbage. With all the thousands of man-hours put in by the tech crew (what a strange credit--it almost feels like pre-emptive defense), they should've just saved Willis the time and CGI'd his entire performance.