Are you always looking for trouble, or does it find you?
After all these years… I still ask myself the same question.
The latest in the Die Hard series (there was no fourth Die Hard. That was a mass hallucination). And I gotta say … I liked it. It got a lot of hate, but honestly, I don’t think A Good Day deserved all the hate piled on it. While admittedly not on the same calibre as the first three, it is still a pretty good and fun action movie on its own.
In Russia, a billionaire, Yuri, is being put on trial for some bogus reason, but really because he apparently has some kind of ‘file’ on the Russian defence minister that could bring the minister down. Shoot back to the US, where the CIA wants that file too, and sends in one of their men to get it.
Around Moscow, we see a young man (Jai Courtney) fiddling with some vans near some buildings. He goes into a nightclub, says ‘Yuri says hello’ and shoots some guy. The young man is arrested. He claims to the police he will testify that this is all Yuri’s idea if they will put him in the courtroom with Yuri.
Meanwhile, good old boy John McClane (the incomparable Bruce Willis. Oh my god, how I love love love this man), is dropped off at the airport by his daughter. Seems John Jr., or Jack, is in trouble in Moscow. McClane is going off to try to bail Jack out or figure out some other way to help. He has a file a cop buddy gave him, showing that Jack is some kind of small time thug in Moscow (vandalism, theft, smallish stuff). We see from a photo in the file that the young man in the nightclub is Jack.
On his way to the courthouse, McClane tries his very awkward Russian on the cab driver, who luckily speaks some English. After serenading him, the driver lets McClane out of the cab because this ring road is always jammed with traffic. McClane walks to the courthouse. There are tons of protestors around the courthouse. Yuri is considered a political prisoner by the people, unjustly held by the villainous defence minister.
McClane watches as Jack is led out of the prison van with Yuri. It’s not a good moment for the (mostly) law abiding cop McClane. Jack is brought into the courtroom with Yuri and they are both put into neighbouring clear cells along the wall. Some kind of holding cells? I don’t really know.
And shiiiiiiiiiit hits the fan.
Some sleazy guys, apparently paid by the defence minister, blow up some cars outside and rush the courtroom, also blowing up more stuff and shooting shit. Jack breaks out of his cell and breaks the very confused Yuri out too. He drags Yuri out of the courthouse and into a waiting van, one of the ones he had been fiddling with before the nightclub shooting. As they start to get away, Jack almost runs over McClane!
McClane is pissed. He sees what looks very much like a jail break and drags Jack out of the van. The confused Yuri jumps out of the van and the sleazy guys with guns come running out of the courthouse, shooting at Yuri. The head sleaze stops his boys, shouting that they need Yuri alive, but that the others can be killed. Jack drags Yuri back into the van and he then pulls a gun on McClane. He dares Jack to shoot him, but Jack finally just pushes him out of the way and jumps back into the van, driving off. The sleazy guys take off after the van, and McClane does too. He’s not done chastising his boy!
Back in the getaway van, it turns out Jack is the CIA man in Moscow. But because of McClane’s interference, Jack’s window of escape has closed and the ring road has been shut down by the police. Time for Plan B. Then there is a truly awesometastic car chase between Jack, the sleazy boys, and McClane. Seriously, it is the shit. I could watch it over and over again. This is how action car chase scenes should be. McClane steals some meathead’s giant SUV (or some kind of car) and drives it off a fucking bridge!!!! He drives onto the TOP of a bunch of traffic stalled cars in the chase after Jack. Gorgeous.
McClane ends up saving Jack and Yuri from the sleazy boys. Jack takes them to the CIA safe house, where the CIA man there demands Yuri hand over the file and they will take him out of Russia. Yuri will hand over the file, but only if his daughter, Irina, is allowed to go too. He calls her and asks her to meet him at a hotel where he and her mother first danced. McClane is amazed that Jack is actually a professional CIA spy. The small time thug stuff was just a cover. Jack’s not a fuck up.
But the sleazy boys have found them and the CIA man is killed, Yuri is shot (in the arm), but he and the McClanes escape. They head for the hotel. On the way there, McClane and Yuri have a moment about fatherhood, something about thinking that working all the time and making money for material things for your family is what they thought was important, but they both realize that being there as a dad was way more important.
McClane, Jack and Yuri make it to the hotel and head to the top floor to meet Irina. The file is hidden in a safe (handily in Yuri’s first mansion, located next to sunny Chernobyl!), but the key to the safe is in the hotel ballroom. They meet Irina and she and Yuri have an emotional reunion. Jack and Yuri are getting the key by the window when McClane attempts to make awkward small talk with Irina. He politely asks her how she got to the hotel so fast and she replies she used the ring road… You know, the one the cabbie said was always snarled with traffic and that the cops had just shut down. McClane knows immediately something is up and the sleazy boys jump out. Irina has been working for the defense minister and the sleazy boys. The McClanes are tied up and Yuri is led away to waiting helicopter.
The McClanes have to get away from the sleazy boys, save Yuri and get that file. Which is in Chernobyl.
I really don’t get the hate. I think the main issue people have is that McClane is apparently no longer the ‘everyman,’ that guy who just happens to walk into a bad situation and deals with it as best as he can. Just a regular Joe. I think he IS a regular Joe still. The series has kind of evolved, if I can use that term. We’ve grown up, and so has McClane. He seems tired and phoning it in, because he IS tired. This is the guy who can’t go to the corner store to get a carton of milk because terrorists have taken it over. Or he tries to go help his son and stumbles into a Russian conspiracy. He’s tired of it all. He just wants to catch a break and be able to nap without the world exploding since he’s not around. Why is this happening to him again??
McClane’s got a lot of experience dealing with baddies now, so he can use that knowledge. But he still retains that everyman quality his son clearly doesn’t have. As Jack emphasizes again and again, he’s a professional. McClane’s just a regular dude reacting to situations, while his son is a trained professional with plans and scenarios mapped out. So Jack always tries to stick to the plan and process, like he’s been trained. When they get to the hotel. Jack is interrogating Yuri, trying to figure out the hotel layout, weak spots, blind spots, cameras, choke points, security… You get the idea. McClane goes up to the laundry guy and bribes him for his pass and to take a break for bit. They go up the freight elevator. A regular guy isn’t going to be strategizing like a professional. He knows that the seemingly least important employees will know all the information and usually have some very vital access. They are regular people, just like him. We can relate to him, not his son. He’s still John McClane, the man we all love, he’s just grown up a bit.
I love the action. Great, great, great! And of course, this is Die Hard, nothing is as it seems. And I admit to laughing at the helicopter scene (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), but it was more of hey I remember that! This was a homage!
It wasn’t as good as the first three. I will say that. Nor is it an instant classic like they are. But it has great action, John McClane, an amusing story and it’s something that you can watch again. Not the greatest, but still, pretty good. I freely admit to liking it.
Also, Jai is kinda hot.
3 raspberry sorbet scoops out of 5.