Twenty-five years on from his iconic debut, Bruce Willis’s wisecracking hero John McClane is back in action for his fifth screen outing with A Good Day to Die Hard. Willis is in pretty good shape – but the series is showing its age.
The plot certainly creaks from the strain of finding yet another excuse for putting New York cop McClane in the wrong place at the right time. On this occasion, the screenwriters have contrived to send him Moscow – armed only with an Idiot’s Travel Guide – to track down his estranged son, Jack, payed by Aussie actor Jai Courtney, the shooter in Jack Reacher. (You’d forgotten McClane had a son, hadn’t you?)
Murky goings-on involving corrupt politicians and powerful oligarchs have landed Jack in a Moscow courtroom, but contrary to his father’s fears he’s not a nogoodnik. He’s actually an undercover CIA spy and his dad’s inopportune arrival blows his mission to whisk Russian whistleblower Komarov (Sebastian Koch from The Lives of Others) to safety.
As the pair flee, pursued by an oligarch’s private army, McClane can’t resist getting involved and is soon playing dodgems with the city’s rush-hour traffic – giving director John Moore the opportunity to stage some spectacular vehicular mayhem.
Of course, father and son somehow emerge intact from the carnage and proceed to team up, bickering and bonding amidst the flying bullets as the convoluted plot sends them to an ultimate showdown with the bad guys at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
Moore, whose previous credits include the recent Omen remake and computer-game adaptation Max Payne, throws everything at the screen, but ends up creating action that is hackneyed, repetitive and often incoherent.
When they’re not leaping off buildings in slow motion, Willis and Courtney trade the odd snarled insult or grudging endearment, but there isn’t a line that lingers.
In cinemas from Thursday 14th February.
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