Friday, 15 February 2013
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD
It is, in my opinion, the worst of the five movies. Actually, I haven't seen the second one, so it's the worst of the four that I have in fact seen. The thing is, it's still pretty watchable, because apparently even the worst Die Hard film is better than most other action films. It's loud and kind of crass, just like the others in the series, but it's not as funny or as clever. That's what I've always liked about the series, that it surprised me. That it kept me guessing. And that it is really very funny. This instalment wasn't.
Another great thing about the series that is kind of lacking here is a strong villain. It felt to me that because they'd moved the action to Russia and the bad guys were all talking in Russian, that the film-makers thought that was menacing enough. In fact, it just made it hard to understand what was going on. I have trouble with subtitles on a cinema-screen (I can't read the words and see the picture at the same time, which I can do fine on a TV-sized screen) and these were particularly bad because they were in a crappy font that also looked kind of fuzzy. The biggest problem, though, was the thick accents and mumbling. Even when the Russians were speaking English, I struggled to understand what was being said. And don't even get me started on what Bruce Willis was saying half the time.
I got the feeling while watching the film that they're setting up for John McClane's son, Jack (played by relative newcomer Jai Courtney), to take over as the star of the series. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more of him (speaking of which, why have a scene where he's changing his shirt and cut to Bruce Willis mumbling at that point? Seriously, whose bright idea was that?), but I don't think the films would work without McClane.
I'm going to shut up soon, I promise, but there's one more thing I have to say before I do. The key line from this film series (by which I mean yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker) is basically missing from this film. It's said quietly and the final part, the fucker part, is completely cut off. Now, I read that they had to botch the end of the line in order to get a 12A rating in the UK, but what was the point? The f-word is used throughout the movie, and cutting it at that point was really jarring and annoying. And for that matter, I don't fully understand why they were so keen to get a 12A rating. Sure, I know it means they're pretty much guaranteed to make more money, but it just seems incongrous for a film series where the previous instalments have been rated 15 (except for the fourth, which was apparently also rated 12, though I think there was a lot more swearing in that one anyway). Really, it just bothered me, but possibly because I knew in advance that the film-makers had chosen to cut things for the lower rating, and that bothers me anyway.
All in all, this film is all right. It's not groundbreaking, it's not even on a par with the first four (okay, three) films in the series, but there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours. In fact, that was one of the bonus points of this film - it's pretty short, only an hour and forty minutes, which is just about the perfect length for an action movie. So at least they got that part right.