Thursday, February 07, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard IMAX

During My Time I Did This Barefooted

It's been more than two decades, and some things just can't change. Bruce Willis became an action icon when the first Die Hard film burst onto the screen in 1988, giving rise to his John McClane character who was always at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and a trouble magnet. Since then, we've followed his adventures out of the Nakatomi Plaza onto the Washington Dulles airport, before going back to New York City and saving his country in the two follow up films, with good old set action sequences balancing his character's wit and sarcasm, plus that unmistakable Yippie-Ki-Yay cheer, as he grows to become quite the indestructible super-hero.

Director John Moore takes over the helm of this Die Hard film, and transports John McClane into an even bigger action adventure outside of his comfort zone of New York City/America, albeit with just a little bit of the fish out of water syndrome. Some would likely point to the fact of Americans poking their noses at other folks' domestic issues, creating a mess and wrecking mass havoc, involving none other than its spy agency and a clueless NYPD cop who's repeatedly telling us he's there on vacation. Yes John, for the umpteenth time, we know! I wonder what had gone into writer Skip Woods' mind when he found it necessary to have John McClane repeatedly try to make a one-liner joke out of his vacation woes, because they fell flat right from the start.

So the trouble with the capital T came courtesy in the form of a Russian political prisoner Komarov (Sebastian Koch), who has some vague file that the CIA wants, and wants badly enough to spend years on an operation involving John's estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) to perform an extraction of sorts when it boiled down to it. But things are never as they seem, and with John's unexpected visit, and getting in the way, it provided father-son some hasty and necessary male-bonding opportunity amidst the mayhem either of them brought to the table. Making things worst is half of Moscow's thugs looking for Komarov, which provides plenty of chances for massive shoot 'em ups. No prizes for which side coming out on top though.

The story's fairly simple despite some twists involved, but nothing you won't see coming. What this installment does is to perhaps set up further adventures with father-and-son, which in a way worked miles better than the Indiana Jones franchise which tried to so the same thing - introduce a descendent, and possibly having him carry on the series. With the Die Hard films, you know it's about the mayhem one, and now two, McClanes can inflict, from large scaled car chases involving a Unimog (brownie points here, since I've driven one for years), to pitch perfect shots blending CG and practical stunts especially those involving the McClanes' retreat to safer haven, done slow-motion style that's action poetry in motion.

But what's more enjoyable in this guilt trip of a franchise that I've followed while growing up, is the little things that flies by unless you're paying close attention, such as little events happening in the background where John puts his street smarts to good use, and those cheeky instances that snuck in unexpectedly. Watch carefully when everything blows up on the screen, and you may call me shallow, but I chuckle each time John McClane manages to flip the birdie while you're admiring the mass destruction he brings onto screen. Also, never had I observed a cheeky car produce placement rivalry since The Peacemaker starring George Clooney, and the Pierce Brosnan Bond series that was a tit-for-tat between Mercedes and BMW. It seemed like this rivalry got ignited again with Mercedes vehicles being shown how sturdy they are, while the beemers get blown to smithereens (as seen in the trailer) fairly easily. One can guess which movie will serve as retaliation for BMW.

This may prove to be my favourite of the series other than the original given that it is grossly over the top, deliberately done so, and indeed from his children being pawns in an unscrupulous reporter's ambition in the first Die Hard, it showed how fast time flies with Jai Courtney having to play McClane's son Jack, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns in a small supporting role as his daughter Lucy. But alas there's an unfortunate thorn here in Singapore (and everywhere else stuck with the international print) for all John McClane's fans which may prove to be the ultimate letdown. You'll never hear our hero swear, nor complete his Yippie-Ki-Yays, because for the sake of a lower rating, he got unceremoniously muted. And that's utter disrespect both to the character, and the fans. Motherfucker!


YTSL said...

Hi Stefan --

Interesting you referenced the Indiana Jones films in this review. For the most part, I was thinking that both of these series ruined the overall reputation of the franchises with their most recent films.

I really enjoyed Arnold Schwartzenegger in "The Last Stand" but think Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis' action schtick have gotten really old along with the actors.

With "A Good Day to Die Hard": I also didn't like the patriotic/jingoistic American asides. Maybe they're fine for domestic American audiences but, really, overseas audiences shouldn't have to deal with this kind of stuff... and it's too bad that people often are accepting of it. :S

Stefan S said...

Well, I think when Jr comes out (incidentally, both are Juniors!), unless they have a compelling storyline, it somehow reeks of desperation to find successors to these franchises... Shia LaBeouf when his star was still shining under Spielberg, and Jai Courtney who's more of a lightweight.

The Last Stand will only hit screens here toward the end of the month, looking forward to that actually :-)

Well, in almost all Hollywood movies, Americans usually save the day / world / universe, unless they decide to share some glory with say, China, in 2012 :-)

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