John McClane (Willis) goes to Moscow when his son is arrested for murder, only to discover that Jack (Courtney) is a CIA agent on an undercover mission. The McClanes go on the run in Russia, pursued by ruthless enemies.
The odds against Anything 5 being outstanding are fairly steep, and while he’s overcome worse in the past, John McClane doesn’t beat them. A Good Day To Die Hard also suffers from being the second footnote to a cycle which the first three Die Hards satisfactorily wrapped up into a trilogy.
Director John Moore, whose CV is littered with remakes (The Omen) and game adaptations (Max Payne), has a slight edge on Die Hard 4.0’s Len Wiseman, and CGI augmentation of the explosions and stunts is less clunky this time round, but a trip outside the US does the franchise few favours.
Post-Cold War jokes like “It’s not 1986 any more” fall flat while the McClanes embody US foreign policy by going abroad to “kill all the scumbags”, though it turns out they don’t know who the real scumbags are. It’s not as if Russia were underexposed in action movies – the chases through a wintery, traffic-clogged Moscow have a Pierce Brosnan Bond feel and the helicopter-bothered climax makes less effective use of a recreation of the city of Chernobyl than the minimally-budgeted Chernobyl Diaries did.
Besides the flagging enthusiasm of star Bruce Willis as he suffers the same shit for the fifth time, this is handicapped by a misunderstanding of what made the first three work. The traditional Die Hard supporting characters of imperiled family member and action sidekick are combined to partner up McClane with his secret agent son, and Jai Courtney (the hitman from Jack Reacher) dutifully matches Willis in grumbly demeanour, while plot twists and shoot-outs are punctuated with whiny father-son bonding it’s impossible to care about.
The key relationship in Die Hard (reprised in 3 and bungled in 4) was between lo-tech McClane and a witty, ingenious, well-resourced nemesis – but the baddies here are rote scowling Russians with little screen presence, with a few key moments of violence noticeably trimmed to secure a 12A certificate.
A few reasonable action sequences are mired in family soap, making this A Good Day To Call It Quits.