'A Good Day to Die Hard' (2013) Movie Review

Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch in A Good Day to Die Hard
Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch in A Good Day to Die Hard
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Terrible. A Good Day to Die Hard is terrible and if you're not clued in to that fact about ten minutes in, by the time you hit the 30 minute mark you'll be well aware.

Much has already been made about how the franchise has returned to an R-rating after the PG-13 Live Free or Die Hard and how this is the shortest of all the Die Hard films by about 30 minutes. Trust me, you're going to wish it was even shorter.

A Good Day To Die Hard
Grade: F

A Good Day To Die Hard"A Good Day To Die Hard" is a 20th Century Fox release, directed by John Moore and is rated R for violence and language. The running time is .

The cast includes Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Cole Hauser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic and Aldis Hodge.

Without any context whatsoever, A Good Day to Die Hard introduces us to a whole crop of people we don't know or care about. Some Russian guy is going to go to court to reveal information concerning some other Russian guy. Next, a guy we will later learn is Jack (Jai Courtney), the son of Bruce Willis's iconic New York City police officer John McClane, is thrown into jail following an assassination attempt.

Cut to McClane at a shooting range where some random officer brings him a dossier on Jack and his troubles in Russia. John's decision? We're headed to Russia. To do what exactly? Your guess is as good as mine and we'll never know. It doesn't take more than a few minutes of McClane being in Russia that a massive car chase takes place, destroying virtually every street in Moscow rounding out the first 30 minutes of the movie.

30 minutes later and not much else is resolved, but it's at this 60 minute mark that screenwriter Skip Woods decides it's time for the two McClanes to hash things out and explain how we got here (that is, when John isn't having a heart-to-heart with the Russian guy he just met). After all, this father/son duo has now escaped death a countless number of times and there's nothing like a near-death experience and a stranger to bring hated family members together again. The best part is the seemingly endless, back-and-forth dialogue that could have been written on a napkin five minutes before the scene was shot rather than worked out and rewritten in script format.

To that extent, I'm not sure where the bulk of the fault lies for this travesty. Is it with screenwriter Skip Woods whose work on films such as Hitman and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is hardly laudable, or is it with director John Moore whose talent for surprising me has nothing to do with the content of his movies, but more the fact people continue to hire him to make them. Have these execs not seen Max Payne or Moore's remake of The Omen. The "fool me once" idiom doesn't even apply to the folks at Fox who hired him to direct three straight steaming piles in a row. The shame now resides with you, me and everyone we know.

The only goal this film seemed to have was a curiosity for breaking as much glass as possible. You can see each scene playing out before it ever happens simply by the amount of glass any one room may have and while stereotypical, carrot-eating bad guys dance around rather than killing off their targets you can't help but shrug at every stupid turn this poor excuse for a story takes. Then you add radiation vacuums, inconceivable fluorescent lighting and multiple leaps of faith and you have some of the dumbest scenes put on film in a long, long time.

An homage to the original Die Hard late in the film did manage to get a chuckle out of the majority of audience members before it was cut short, but all it really did was prove just how iconic that original film is in comparison to this poor excuse for an installment in the same franchise.

Before A Good Day to Die Hard even hit theaters there was talk of a sixth installment, but this film will have to defy all odds for that to happen. While I didn't dislike the Len Wiseman-directed fourth installment as much as others, the writing is clearly on the wall in that today's so-called action directors don't hold a candle to the likes of old schoolers such as John McTiernan who only seemed to get better while today's plastic wrapped clones only get worse.


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More Reviews
  • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

    Oh my god. I expected it to be bad, but never this bad. I will be avoiding this one like the plague. To be honest, I wasn't even going to see it anyway. The best and only good Die Hard is the first, which is actually a pretty great action film.

  • Zack

    I was thinking about going to a 10PM tonight, but now I'm obviously having some second thoughts.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      Same boat

  • Dale

    I enjoy all your reviews, especially ones of bad movies.

  • Winchester

    For me the Die Hard franchise stopped with 1995 and Die Hard with a Vengeance (which actually IMO was pretty good) although even at that I'm not that big on Die Hard 2: Die Harder.

    Basically it's just films 1 and 3 for me in the series.

    It's a bit like Terminator - I'm only interested in the two James Cameron ones. The rest are way below (and I suspect that will cover the proposed Ellison financed future films as well).

    I think I'll keep this as a rental at best down the line.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Depending on the day my favorites would either be Die Hard or Die Hard with a Vengeance. Rickman and Irons were excellent and I loved the back-and-forth between Willis and VelJohnson in the first and Willis and Jackson in the third... I'm not much of a fan of the second one, but I haven't seen it in a long time either.

      • Winchester

        It's been a good while since I saw it fully myself. I've seen sections of it from time to time. I just remember the violence was ramped up even by 90's standards (I'm pretty sure for a few years it was like the movie with the largest body count ever - I think because the bad guys down a plane more than the number McClane took out directly) and has much bigger explosions in it. That's what tends to stick in my mind.

        But yeah, I think the two McTiernan films had better villains and better interplay between the villains and Willis (not that even Irons can top Rickman but he got closest) and maybe also because Vengeance serves as more of an actual story sequel as well. Die Hard 2 was more the 'quick, let's do another' type sequel. I think I would almost always say Die Hard was my favourite, but some sections of Vengeance are really good as well.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      I started re-watching Die Hard With A Vengeance last night and enjoyed it quite a bit as I remembered.

      • Winchester

        Another weird factoid is I also think it was 1995's worldwide highest grossing movie but it was the year's highest grosser with something like only $300-something million.

        Which today seems almost laughable given how a Billion is the new standard and films can exceed $300 million alone in the US relatively often now.

        • Winchester

          I was close - $366.1 million.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

          True. Average movie ticket prices were $4.35 in 1995 and approximately $8.00 in 2012 (annual growth rate of 3.6%) and there was no IMAX or 3D back then, so it's prob about same number of people as today.

          My question is: where are these ridiculously low ticket prices so that the average is $8. It's $14 where I live for regular 2D.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

            Where I live, the theater closest to me and I really like to go it, it's $4 morning movies all week, $5 tuesday any show, any movie, any time ($6 for 3D on Tuesdays). The weekend is $9.

            In another theater here its $6 all day, every day, any show, any time of the week for 2D and $7.50 for 3D including weekends.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

    I had a feeling this movie is not gonna be good. I expected it in the D's but not surprised that its an F. For me only the first 4 die hard movies exist. The 5th one was never made

  • adu

    So I was initially going to rent this one...now a skip seems in order.

  • Ron Oneal Fresh

    Best movie ever!

  • Roger

    This review seems a bit harsh. Bullet to the Head got a D, The Last Stand got a D+. I don't understand how this gets a straight up F.

    • jamie

      i guess it's worse than those.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

      Either it's worse than those, or it's really hard not to compare a franchise to the past 4 movies all of them which are very good and couple great. So comparatively it's an F. I wasn't really impressed by the trailer for Die Hard 5. just a bunch of mindless explosions.

  • Paul

    Wow another movie you hate. Shocker.

    • Jake17

      Wow, another review by Brad you're hating on. Shocker.

  • Steve

    I am sitting in a theater right now for AMC's Die Hard Marathon......"Die Hard 2" just ended......10pm should be interesting considering this review....

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    1 positive review and 20 negative on RT right now. Not a good sign that it's just a matter of taste in this one.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      Maybe I'll go see "Safe Haven" tonight? *Shrugs shoulders*

      • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

        You'll get a fair number of unintentional humor there hahaha!!! It's definitely worth a watch!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheMovieGuru/ The Movie Guru

    Brad, did they basically turn Die Hard into Transformers? An F is shocking. Is this the first movie on your top 50 anticipated list of the year that you have ever given an F?

  • Mike W

    It's a shame because what made Die Hard 1 & 3 so enjoyable for me was the 'wrong place at the wrong time' theme. John McClane shouldn't be going in search of action, he should be trying to get out of it. That's what set him apart from the other cookie cutter action characters.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

    Well, that kills any interest of mine. Still, an F is fairly shocking, because while I thought it was going to be bad, but fun, it seems like it's a no good piece of crap that shouldn't have gotten off the ground.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

    .... and they are talking about a 6th movie. oh god why lol

  • Chris138

    This series ran out of steam a long, long time ago.

  • Tom

    I never pay attention to critics/movie reviews(although I do enjoy reading them...lol)...Ive seen them all and will definitely see this new one this weekend. I prefer to make go watch movies and make my own opinions rather than allowing others to dictate or influence what I want to see...

    • Andrew

      Tom, you don't read good enough critics then.

      • Tom

        In my opinion, theres no such thing as a good critic...Good critic should be classified an "oxymoron".

        • John Debono

          Why are you on this site at all?

          • Tom

            Becuase its fun to read how these critics justify their love of or hatred for a particular movie. Critics are like most weathermwen...They are wrong more often than not yet they somehow are able to keep their jobs...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

    Despite Brad's bad review, I'll still probably see this this weekend mostly because in my opinion this movie looks pretty good and also because most of the time, I don't agree with Brad on which movies are good and which one's are bad. For example, Brad hated Identity Thief but I saw it last weekend and I really enjoyed it and that's just one of many examples I could give. So I certainly hope I end up enjoying this more than Brad did.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ducard/ Ducard

    This movie looked like a cash grab by Willis from its inception (I wonder if he went Nic Cage or Wesley Snipes with his money). The trailer looks idiotic. Thanks for confirming my suspicions in your review.

  • Danny

    Despite this bad review I am going to see this movie... And I'll probably end up really liking it.... Even if it does turn out to be the weakest of the series... I am an unapologetic fan of the Die Hard movies and the John McClane character.... I would follow McClane all the way to him fighting imaginary terrorists with a walker and an oxygen tank in tow at the nursing home... Though having said that, if a sixth one does get made, I feel they need to bring it back to it's root of being in one lacation... That being a retirement/award ceremony for McClane that gets taken hostage and it should bring back all the characters from the other films such as Al Powell, Argyle, Zeus and of course Holly and his two kids... And it should be the final Die Hard movie...

    • Danny

      I went and watched a 10 pm show tonight... As stated above I am a huge Die Hard fan... I will say that this is the weakest of the series, but I think Brads grade of an"F" is way way too harsh... I would give it a "C", it was missing two elements:

      1. it needed more McClane-isms and quips (one of the things I loved about the fourth movie was how there was a lot of those).
      2. I have a feeling that there will be an extended edition releasdd on Blu-ray/DVD... It seemed too short... and though I knew about the shorter run time before going into it, it felt like there was more back ground for the bad guy(s) that wasn't shown

      But overall I was entertained and enjoyed it.

      Just for Shits and Giggles, here are grades for all the Die Hard films:

      Die Hard = A+
      Die Hard 2: Die Harder = A- (this one used to be my least favorite of the original three, but over multiple viewings, it really is the perfect action movie follow up to the original)
      Die Hard with A Vengeance = A
      Live Free or Die Hard = B+
      A Good Day to Die Hard = C

  • Yaz

    And it'll top the box office this weekend. :)

  • darkknightfan1225

    I will be there Friday with freakin bells on!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    I hoped that this would be a C+ or so, but I had a gut feeling that it would be pretty awful. I guess my gut was right in this instance.
    Maybe I'll rent it just since it's Die Hard.

    • Danny

      I feel it was a at least a "C".

  • Disco Paco

    There is only one Die Hard

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/LennyFeder/ Lenny Feder

    Just got back, yikes.

  • Steve

    Ok.....just got back from the Die Hard Marathon and yes........Brad is 100% right.......that movie was fucking terrible. I want that hour and 37 minutes of my life back

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Lils/ Lily Gebrenegus

    I agree. The movie was awful. My favorite part was toward the end when Jai Courtney blames swimmer's ear for what Bruce Willis think he heard. I was expecting a witty barb about how Bruce Willis is losing his hearing cause he's so old.

  • Quickslay

    I am going to give this thing a pass. The trailer was pisspoor and it seems like the result is even worse....no thank you. The only thing that makes me really mad is the fact that they will do a remaster of the original when part 5 will be released on BluRay to be put in a box set like the Indy movies....arrrgh, so I will eventually spend money on this piece of crap....grrrrr.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/rusty/ rusty

    I am an idiot.

    Booked this three weeks ago for London's Lovely IMAX screen on Friday night. In that time Fox have butchered the product for the UK, cutting out the die-hard-y bits, to get the equivalent of the PG-13 here. It is also now looking to be a proper stinker.

    Well, on the bright side, at least my expectations are low!

    At least I've still got a Stoker Screening, introduced by Park Chan-Wook on Sunday...That had damn well better be good.

    • Bazellis

      I'm in the same boat. I booked my tickets last week before Fox decided to go ahead with their hair brained scheme on getting this film a 12A rating. I just hope all the teenagers are grateful, if they can tear themselves away from messing about with their bloody phones!

  • on par with much hollywood crap now

    This really isn't a surprize is it? Really??.. typical of hollywood now. Not to me anyway - next one will be 3D.

  • Kimberlesk

    I've been looking forward to this since it was first announced. I'll be doing a Die Hard marathon this weekend, ending with the new film on Sunday afternoon. I'm sure it's going to be bad, but I just have to see for myself. Still love Willis and McClane and agree that Rickman and Irons were great villains. In fact, that's the problem with the Die Hard franchise, like Burton's Batman franchise, they had the best villain in the first films.

  • RohanMM

    I went to see it last night. I walked out after 25 minutes, during the chase scene; I simply couldn't even bear to sit through it any longer.

    Once the Bruce Willis character (because he is no longer John McClane to me) punches the Russian local because he doesn't understand him, I felt insulted that this film was ever made.

    The action scene made no sence even for a Hollywood action film, and the shots were unable to tell a coherent story. The worst thing I can say is that this was even worse than Taken 2, and I never thought I'd be saying that.

  • Joshua

    Haha, walked out after 25 mins, those 25 mins were rough...I loved the Die Hard movies and was willing to even give this one a pass, and maybe thought it wasn't that bad. I went in with extremely low expectations...and I can say, it truly is horrible. There were some good moments and even when they payed homage to the first one.

    In my theatre people actually cracked up when John punched the Russian because he didn't understand him. To me what really ruined it was the *stars waving hands* the SHAKY CAMERA! and for christ sake, pull the camera back! The editing and the cinematography was just an absolute joke. The acting was pretty bad, I still feel the only bright spot was Bruce Willis. Man, they've ruined my beloved franchise....

    • Joshua

      *he walked out after 25 mins

  • darkknightfan1225

    Not nearly as bad as this review states. Definitely not up to par with any of the others but not anywhere near an 'F.' Somewhere between C and D for the visual effects. (Watch it again...best VFX since Abrams' Star Trek...for real).

  • Arthur Carlson

    Through most of this movie, I kept thinking to myself, When do the terrorists show up? When do the terrorists show up? Going after a file to help a guy get out of Russia seems, well, not very Die Hard like. There weren't innocent people in immediate danger from money hungry thieves pretending to be terrorists. And then the "twist." I kept trying to replay what just happened and how it made any sense at all. And even though I liked bits in the film, that moment ruined the whole experience for me. It's not as bad as an F for me, but it's definitely not a Die Hard film. I wonder if I'd like it more if it didn't have the Die Hard name on it. Though, no film with that "twist" would be any good.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/CleverNameGoesHere/ Clever Name Goes Here

    Saw it, it was aweful. Def not worth $10. Who knew action could be campy?