Finally, after what seems like an eternity, we see John McClane (for once at his actual police station!) looking tired and worn down and actually hear him engage in a more low key conversation. However, this was actually one of my biggest problems with the movie: the pacing. We are treated to not one, not two, but at least three very long and very ponderous monologues with John McClane and the supporting cast in between (what you'll soon find to be) very scarce and uninspired action sequences. This time McClane must go to Russia to try and find out why his son Jack (played by Jai Courtney) is being held in prison by Russian authorities. He mostly bumbles his way through Russia and actually causes an early problem for his son's supposed escape attempt. Here yet another issue presents itself: John McClane just doesn't seem like the same person.
I'll admit it's been awhile since I saw the original trilogy, but the writing for McClane's character just feels off. In fact, at many times Willis' McClane just comes across as boorish and kind of stupid. The problems seep through to the action: one major car chase sequence featured very choppy editing and it was difficult to tell who was chasing whom and I ended up giving up and just waiting for it to end. I was very much reminded of the Bourne trilogy's excessive cutting during the hand to hand sequences, which is strange because those films featured some rather excellent car chases where it was easy to tell exactly where everyone was. For a movie with supposedly higher stakes, I found the actual objective to be rather humdrum. The final set-piece has great potential in a rather unique location that is completely squandered by a lackluster and anti-climactic finale.
Finally, one of the major themes of the Die Hard films has always been the main villain. While this movie does feature a surprise antagonist, they are not even near the level of say Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman) from the original or even up to the slightly lower bar of Timothy Olyphant's big bad in 2007's sequel. The problem is when you really think about it, the whole idea of keeping this person as a surprise villain makes little sense when you realize that they had plenty of opportunities to take out anyone who was in their way. The filmmakers even go so far as to recreate, almost frame for frame, the demise of a certain someone from the first movie. Word of advice Mr. Moore, un-compelling villains don't deserve epic deaths.
- Sleek opening sequence that works despite lacking the Die Hard feel.
- Jai Courtney (the actor playing Jack McClane) really looks like he could be Bruce Willis' son.
Fly in the ointment, Hans...
- Terrible scripting, when did John McClane become so stupid?
- Stiff and terrible pacing reminiscent of 2010's Legion: long dialogue sequences does not a good action movie make.
- Boring vilains and one is featured in a particularly odd dancing scene (Spider-Man 3 cringe).
- Impressively awful how a unique shooting location was basically used to recycle imagery from the original Die Hard.
- Over reliance on slow motion, it has been used to much better effect in recent years (2012's Dredd for one).
- The R rating, while nice to see for a Die Hard sequel, was only earned through over the top language that feels completely forced and needlessly graphic violence.
Verdict: Avoid this film as if you were a Die Hard villain: you can't win. Pick up the Die Hard collection instead, it's on Amazon for 40 bucks right now.
Take a listen to Alan Rickman's thoughts on the famous demise of Hans Gruber in the infinitely better Die Hard...