Not the Best Day to Die Hard

Links, and a spoiler-heavy review for A Good Day to Die Hard down at the bottom if that interests you:

laser brain.

When you do a sequel, you want to have certain nods to the former movie without making it a total copy off the first one (*cough* Hangover 2 *cough cough*). It’s a tough line to toe. That ability to find the correct delicate balance starts in the planning stages. Which is now, for Star Wars 7-9. JJ Abrams and those in charge have to decide once and for all what kind of allusions to the past it wants to include, and which ones to dump. So the decision to include Han Solo, and, in effect, Harrison Ford, is a big, big, big one. Abrams really needs to tread lightly for what couldn’t be more than a cameo for Solo to introduce his newly Jedi’d son (guessing), make some nerf herder joke and disappear into the scenery. Is that really the best use of the movie’s time? It’s not like it would be hard to explain that Solo died in some battle a couple years after Jedi. I guess it could be OK, but I’m worried there would be too much focus on Han Solo, not enough on a new plot and characters.

It’s getting to the point where I just have to stop reading about the movie version of X-Men: Days of Future Past because I just don’t get how they can make it happen and it’s making my brain hurt. Maybe if I go back and read it again I’d understand how it could work in a movie with all of these characters … but I doubt it. I think I just have to sequester myself from the whole thing and watch the movie in 18 months.

get out while you still can, will

This whole Up All Night thing is insane. If NBC was trying to keep a show alive that was getting through-the-roof ratings, that’s one thing. But Up All Night was a questionable renewal this year, and has been a complete failure this year. On Dec. 13, NBC ran back-to-back new episodes of the show on a Thursday night when it had The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock on the bench. That already gives of the stench of “burn-off,” but its ratings were abysmal. The kind of ratings that get a show canceled almost immediately. So why is anyone at NBC trying to save this show? There can’t be anyone left at the network that believes for one second this sinking ship can be salvaged, are there? It’s lost its star, it’s been gone for two months and hasn’t been promoted at all for those two months even though you can’t watch NBC for more than five seconds without seeing a Revolution commercial, it’s changing its format … what else do you need to see before you pull the plug? When Maya Rudolph has her baby on the set, can we drop it then? Sheesh.

(A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD SPOILERS COMING, NOT THAT IT MATTERS, BECAUSE YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT’S HAPPENING.)

why are you smiling? you just made a crappy movie.

I don’t know how much a top-flight blockbuster franchise movie pays for a decent writer. Let’s just say it’s $2.5 million, which is a pretty fair estimate for a $50 million movie, apparently. Let’s also say your particular action franchise is completely dependent on the script because your star isn’t just a character, he’s a brand who has been established a certain way through the last 25 years. If the script was that paramount to the movie’s success, wouldn’t you want to invest just a little bit more into the writing process? Can you insert clauses in the script agreement that says, “If it gets good reviews, you get an $X bonus,” or something like that? Wouldn’t it make sense to do that? Of course it would! Unless you’re the people behind the Die Hard series, then you apparently don’t give a flaming eff, you’re more than comfortable just packing as many guns and explosions as you can into an hour-and-a-half and using the actors as set pieces there to either shoot the guns or escape from the explosions. You’re comfortable doing your best to neuter one of the great action movie characters of our generation. A Good Day to Die Hard sucks. I knew that going in since the reviews were piss-poor, but I expected at least something moderately enjoyable. It never happened, not even close. Nothing makes sense, nothing. Movie studios have become pretty good at giving you a ton of information in the trailers, but holding back one major, major secret piece of the plot that becomes a surprise in the third act of an action movie. I don’t give a shat, I’m giving away AGDTDH’s little secret because it’s so dumb. The third act is set in the Chernobyl nuclear plant that melted down, not that it matters. Because it doesn’t. It’s such a blah way of going for “recognizable,” similar to how Wolverine cheaply exploited the TMI meltdown. There are so many opportunities missed, so many generic characters and so few payoffs that it amounts to 90 minutes of stock footage from BuildAnActionMovie.com or something. Two examples of opportunities missed: McClane makes a joke about an police officer friend of his who went on vacation with his son to Florida, while when he goes on vacation, it’s to Chernobyl. Ba ha ha, funny funny. But it’s some officer we’ve never heard of or met in five Die Hards, so the reference is lost on us. Why couldn’t he have said it’s was Al Powell’s kid? Or Zeus’ nephew? Then, the movie ends with a 20-second scene of Papa McClane with his son and daughter as one big happy family. Lucy was waiting for the McClane boys at an airport as they got off their chartered private plane. Wait … no Holly? How do you explain that to an audience? “Your son and presumably ex-husband just took down a Russian splinter group that was ready to make nuclear bombs to sell to terrorist groups, and almost died 530 times in the process. You didn’t want to go meet them at the airport, did you? Didn’t think so.” I know Bonnie Bedelia hasn’t been seen in the last two Die Hards, but geez, couldn’t you just drag her off the Parenthood set for a couple hours, pay her scale and have done with it? I don’t trust that thought ever went through the heads of the people involved with this movie. It’s like those people — including Bruce Willis — never even saw a Die Hard movie. And I’m sure we’re now to the point where that’s what Die Hard 9 will look like too. GRADE: D-

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