There is really no reason at all to have an all-American cop like Bruce Willis’ John McClane in Moscow. But the Die Hard series just won’t die easily, after being resurrected in Live Free or Die Hard for the internet age. The problem is, Bruce is getting old. Sure, in his late 50s he is still hotter than most guys half his age, but studios are scrambling to establish future action heroes while still appealing to fans of the long-lived franchise. So, what to do?
Like the ill-advised Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where Indy got to share the screen with his son, the latest Die Hard has John McClane going to Russia to bring home his estranged wayward adult son who has been thrown into prison. The film basically starts out with carnage as soon as McClane lands in Moscow. John’s ever-cranky son, Jack McClane (Jai Courtney), along with another prisoner Komarov (Sebastian Koch) is busted out in the middle of their own trial, with an explosion that rips apart the courtroom. A massive, herky-jerky car chase ensues, with the fugitives being chased by bad guys being chased by a pissed off John McClane, who just wants to talk to Jack (har har). But by the time John catches up with Jack, it turns out John has been misinformed… Jack is CIA, and John has effed everything up!
Yippee ki yay.
The action is literally non-stop, so much so that when characters try to talk to each other in order to have a very special moment (like John and Komarov lamenting not being home for their children because they worked too much), there are usually freshly bleeding wounds involved, debris flying through the air, or guns going off. There are sequences of a famous hotel being shot to smithereens, a car chase that beats traffic by driving on top of it, and a vault break-in that occurs in (yes) Chernobyl. In the meantime, there is a convoluted, and not particularly interesting impetus for this whole thing involving a file, a corrupt politician, and some weapons-ready uranium.
The bad guys aren’t memorable. The plot is muddy. The script is groan-worthy and dull. Accents and languages (Russians speaking Russian, then Russians speaking English to each other?) are inconsistent. The editing and camerawork and visual tricks are headache-inducing. And the next generation (sorry Jai Courtney) has a complete lack of charisma to take over the series (if that is indeed what they are planning). The only good thing about this stinker? Bruce Willis. Though is he practically a side character in all the chaos, whenever the camera is on Bruce and his smirk, the screen is almost worth watching. Die Hard is all about Bruce. And when you don’t give Bruce the good lines, story, and screen time he needs, well, why bother?