Forget the terrible twos. Being the parent of a somebody in his terrible twenties that's hard. I mean, if your kid isn't drinking too much, dabbling in drugs or hanging with the wrong crowd, he's over in some Moscow nightclub shooting a guy in the chest and getting tossed in a Russian clink.
When ex-NYPD cop John McClane gets the news about his son's rebellious shenanigans, he figures he'd better do something. He's not exactly sure how this type of thing works, but maybe he can fly over there and sort stuff out. You know, have a little cop-to-cop talk with the authorities in charge.
Just about the time John walks up to the courthouse where his son is going to be tried, though, things start getting crazy. A trio of car bombs rips half of the courthouse down. Gunmen charge the scene. And right in the middle of it all is John's son, Jack, trying to escape the smoking wreck of a building with a Russian criminal in tow. Then an armored car full of gun-toting thugs takes chase.
Cars are smashed. Innocents are sent flying. More explosions rip through the city.
It's high time for ol' John to shrug off his carry-on, roll up his sleeves and slip into action hero mode.
If somebody's gonna slap some sense into Jack, it'll be him. He's the idiot's dad after all, and no gaggle of Russian baddies is gonna get in the way of that. They wanna see car smashing and high-speed bridge leaping? Well, he can give 'em plenty of that kind of eye candy. They want bullets blazing and rampant explosions and mass destruction? Again, he's happy to oblige. It'll be a walk in the park as far as this grizzled guy is concerned.
Hey, he's John McClane. He knows how this type of thing works.
The movie's one redeeming trait is its demonstration that a parent and a kid can find common ground and start over with each other—even if they've had severely strained relationships in the past. It's made plain that John and Jack are estranged. But their wounds begin to heal. And at one point John expresses his regret over working so much in Jack's younger years and not spending enough time with him. He tells the young man, "I love ya, boy. I've got your back." Jack looks to his dad and replies with a meaningful, "I've got your back, too." It's also apparent that John has already mended a number of fences with his daughter back home.
By the way, it turns out that Jack isn't really the rebellious misfit John thought he was. In fact, Jack is, in a way, following in his father's heroic footsteps.
In nightclubs and elsewhere, we see a number of women in revealing outfits, from short shorts and a midriff-baring top to a slinky black dress. A woman strips off her motorcycle-riding garb, revealing bra and panties.
After a very brief story introduction, this pic quickly hits its scenery-chewing stride, punches the gas and never really slows down until nearly all of its locations are riddled with bullets and shrapnel or engulfed in some sort of flaming catastrophe.
Examples: Seemingly hundreds of traffic-stalled cars, along with their occupants, are crushed, flipped and catapulted skyward during a frantic chase scene with a huge armored truck. Scores of people in the courtroom are caught in the initial detonation, and the few staggering survivors are picked off by automatic gunfire. A grenade detonates a punctured gas line and fills a room with a wall of flame.
A man is pureed by the tail rotor of an out-of-control helicopter. The craft's .50 cal miniguns rip a pair of buildings to shreds as John and Jack run through. And the helicopter eventually detonates in a slo-mo microcosm of the apocalypse as our heroes barely escape. After a car wreck, a wounded survivor spits up a large gush of blood. When a safe house's security system is triggered, explosions send at least 10 guys falling to their deaths several stories below.
There's also some up-close bashing as John and Jack are beaten with fists and rifle stocks. Then they turn the tables and give as good as they get. We see men shot point-blank in the forehead, temple and chest—blood flying from the wounds. Jack has a chunk of rebar ripped painfully from his side.
Crude or Profane Language
You know that "yippee-ki-yay m‑‑‑‑‑f‑‑‑er!" has to show up in each and every Die Hard film. And when the rating's R, it's not going to be obscured in any way. Indeed, that foul phrase counts as one of the almost 20 f-bombs tossed here. There are just as many s-words, for the record. And we hear several uses each of "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑tard" and "a‑‑." God's name is combined with "d‑‑n" on four occasions, and Jesus' name is misused another half-dozen times. Jack flips his middle finger at a pursuer.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Clubbers clutch and guzzle glasses of booze. There's an offhand reference to drugs.
Other Negative Elements
Our heroes steal a car full of drug-runners' guns. A Russian killer reports, "Do you know what I hate about Americans? Everything! Especially cowboys."
Well, every action flick franchise inevitably has to succumb to its wounds at some point. And as the title suggests, this is as good a day as any for that to happen to Die Hard.
The rollicking series has always had more than its share of content problems. But in spite of its obscene outbursts and bullet-splattering mayhem, it launched (way back in 1988) with an average-Joe-beats-the-odds-and-saves-the-one-he-loves ardor. By the time the series straggled along to this fifth flick, though, that original verve—along with any vestige of wit and/or believable storyline—had long since been killed off. All that's left, one could say, is a litter of broken glass moviegoers must pick through for the paltry privilege of seeing Bruce Willis relive his glory days.
His most famous character, John McClane, has transformed over the years from a tough-but-battered everyman into something closer to a unbelievable-but-persistent Iron Man. He's a fit grandfather type who can dodge bullets, outmaneuver Russian military vehicles (while driving the equivalent of a soccer mom's minivan), and fall crashing through several stories of wood, plaster and glass … only to pull himself up with little more than a bloodied eyebrow and a stale quip about how lousy his vacation is.
Like many a better actioner before it, all that cartoonish thumping and rending is supposed to pump up its audience of thrill seekers. But in this case, by the middle of the first traffic-obliterating chase sequence, you start to realize how familiar it's all looking. How tired and weak the logic feels. And worse, how morally murky all those many bloody cinematic deaths really are.
At the end of the film Jack asks his father, "Do you go looking for trouble, or does it just seem to find you?" John replies, "You know, after all these years I still ask myself that same question." Moviegoers still drawn to this banal fare should really start asking themselves the same thing.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Bruce Willis as John McClane; Jai Courtney as Jack McClane; Sebastian Koch as Komarov; Yuliya Snigir as Irina; Radivoje Bukvic as Alik
John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen, Flight of the Phoenix, Behind Enemy Lines)
20th Century Fox
February 14, 2013
Bob Hoose Bob Hoose