Good day gone wrong
Turns out it is not such a “Good Day” after all. At least not for the “Die Hard” die-hards who will be mostly disappointed by the fifth installment of the storied franchise. Yes, the latest still has the ever wise-cracking, lovable, indefatigable star power of Bruce Willis who 25 years ago helped establish a new blueprint for action hero adventure. But with “Good Day,” the heavy CGI histrionics make this chapter look and feel like just another of the loud, fast and pour on the violent bombast actioners that dominate the cinema – especially right now. (Bruce joins aging action stars Sylvester and Arnold who also have very average films in theaters).
All that being said, “Good Day” is not devoid of energy even though new ideas are absent. Willis stars, of course, as (former?) New York detective John McClane who is on his way to Moscow (wait, are we back in the Cold War?) to rescue his son Jack (Jai Courtney – think a really beefy Phil Phillips sans guitar) who has been thrown into jail for killing a Russian mobster. What John doesn’t know about his estranged son is that he is a CIA operative on a mission gone awry and the last person he wants to see is his Dad – whom he resolutely refers to as “John” and who as we all know from previous films tends to be a magnet for bad guys and explosives. The two have a believable edginess to their characters but we can predict the warm, fuzzy and heavily wounded place this is going.
Rumor has it the opening car chase, which lasts over fifteen minutes, took over two months to film – which by an unofficial count after watching the film easily averages out to three cars destroyed per day – but lacks the fun and momentum of previous films in the series. The film gets extra points for the big, radioactive showdown at Chernobyl a venue not often seen in films of any kind.
Willis can still bring it (as better evidenced in his turn in “Looper”) but the “I’m too old for this,” and “I’m on vacation!” references seem tired the first time they were used. And there was something in the pre- CGI days that made McClane’s character more vulnerable, where now, the generic gunfights and chase sequences, however well choreographed and impressively grandiose they might be, have reduced his character to just another impossible to kill action figure.
A short 97 minute running time never hurts this caliber of movie, so there’s that.
The cinema is crowded now with similarly themed, heavy on the violence, “R” rated, mostly brainless action films. Is it the films or is it us? Have we reached overkill in the killing-for- fun-movie department?
Rated “R” for violence and profanity.