A Good Day to Die Hard (2013, John Moore)

Bruce Willis embarrasses himself in A Good Day to Die Hard. Not a lot, but enough the movie’s occasionally uncomfortable. Usually when it reminds of the previous Die Hard entries. But not when it actually references the previous entries–strangely enough those sequences tend to work.

This entry drops Willis into a big dumb spy action movie, which isn’t a terrible idea. Willis follows around spy son Jai Courtney, messing up a secret mission, and that concept works. Especially when Willis finds it easier to bond with Sebastian Koch, who plays the asset Courtney’s protecting. Those scenes allow Willis to show his age, which Day otherwise ignores.

Skip Woods’s script has some good moments. Not many, but some. The movie’s not too long–Day truncates its first act to about ten minutes and the subsequent eighty-five play speedily. It’s often dumb, always contrived, but never boring.

And not being boring is a bit of a surprise, since John Moore’s an inept director. He knows how to compose a shot, but not a scene. He likes pointless slow motion a lot, like it makes up for his lack of skill or personality. There’s a lengthy car chase through Moscow as the first action set piece. It should be great but Moore completely bungles it.

Koch is great, Radivoje Bukvic’s a decent villain, Courtney’s okay.

It wouldn’t have taken much for Day to have been better–just a different director and Bonnie Bedelia. Bedelia’s narratively inexplicable absence does Day irreparable damage.

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