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When I described Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head as cartoonish, I hadn’t seen A Good Day to Die Hard. This fifth go-round for the Bruce Willis action series makes the Stallone picture seem positively Shakespearean! To be fair to action junkies I should say that if you like watching things blow up, you won’t be bored. But the almost non-stop mayhem in this film—including car and truck chases, huge explosions, bullet-ridden battles, and people hurling through plate-glass windows—comes with a catch. It doesn’t look real.

I wouldn’t presume to guess how many of these spectacular scenes were executed with stunt people and how many were created with computer graphics. All I know is that the results are so wildly improbable that it’s difficult to make any emotional investment in them. When you can’t believe that your hero is actually in peril, or you get to the point where you know that he’ll survive every catastrophe, no matter how huge, the fun drains away.

The storyline is thin and contrived. It seems that maverick New York City cop John McClane (Willis) not only has a daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but a grown son, a detail apparently withheld from the previous four movies. He’s estranged from his father, but when Dad hears that his kid is in trouble in Russia, he flies there to see what he can do…little dreaming that the beefy son (Australian actor Jai Courtney) is working for the CIA. What’s more, he’s on a sensitive mission to protect a controversial figure (Sebastian Koch) who’s holding a file full of volatile information. This is mostly an excuse for father and son to bond as they get beat up and chase “scumbags” together.

Director John Moore and his team stage the action scenes well enough, but this movie doesn’t know when to quit, and Skip Woods’ screenplay doesn’t leaven the proceedings with wisecracks worthy of Willis’ patented delivery.

Willis is enjoyable to watch, as usual, but he doesn’t have much to work with. (I’m old enough to remember that when he was cast in the original Die Hard, twenty-five years ago, people chortled at the idea of a light-comedy actor invading Schwarzenegger territory. Looks like Willis has had the last laugh.) His McClane character is an evergreen, but without a decent script he can do little except spin his wheels. A Good Day to Die Hard should have and could have been a lot better.

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mike schlesinger

You go to a DIE HARD movie for four reasons: explosions, car chases, gunplay and wisecracks. Did DH5 deliver those? Yes, it did. I have no problem with a movie aiming low as long as it succeeds in hitting that target.


Cut Mr. Maltin some slack. Yes Willis's John McClane has kids and his daughter was a principal character in the fourth movie but like Willis, we're alll getting a little older and our memory is not what it once was.
The movie wasn't that bad but definitely sub par Die Hard material. Is it me or are a lot of these kind of movies using the Bourne movies as a template? I mean with the photography, editing and score.


I can't say that the last Die hard is tha best…as for me the way of showing Russia and russian people is awful and Bruce Willis became too old….but he's still awesome) Not bad movie.
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The first film had both his kids in it. There's a somewhat important subplot in the original Die Hard about the news reporter going to his house threatening the nanny and talking to the kids which in turn make Hans Gruber aware that McClain's wife was in the building. I believe a revision to your review is in order.


He had a son the whole time. He was seen in the first film, mentioned in the second. Research, Mr. Maltin, research! You're a professional critic, the least you can be is accurate!


There are my high hopes for several films this year and then there's this.

Nakatomi Squirrel

Butter Shins is correct. As you may recall, cloying reporter Richard Thornburg threatens the McClane's nanny with turning her over to immigration if she doesn't consent to letting him interview the McClane son and daughter. When she begrudgingly relents, he asks them what he wants them to say to their captured parents, to which little Lucy McClane says "come home", with little Jack standing right behind her. As a result, Hans Gruber comes to realize who Holly Gennaro really is, and uses her to draw John out for a final showdown. It was a key moment in the film.
Come now Mr. Maltin, surely you know better than that with such a legendary film.

Tony Caruana

" Should have, could have " says it all, Leonard.


A time lapse film of Willis growing older would have been more entertaining…Ka-Boom…

Butter Shins

The children were not a withheld detail. Both appear in the original Die Hard. It's safe to assume they grew up since then.

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