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February 16, 2013 | 11:42 a.m. CST
A lot of stuff blows up. A father bonds with his son, sort of. And John McClane delivers one-liners half-heartedly.
In the newest installment of the Die Hard franchise, Bruce Willis believes his estranged problem child of a son (Jai Courtney) is in trouble overseas and flies to Moscow to set him straight. Upon his arrival, Willis, unaware that his son is actually a spy, interrupts a CIA operation — the younger McClane is supposed to get a political prisoner (Sebastian Koch, the lone bright spot) out of Russia.
Willis, who turns 58 in March, looks his age in A Good Day to Die Hard. Yes, he still shoots at baddies and flies through drywall, but he doesn’t have that same physical presence as in the first movies. In an early scene, a fellow police officer calls Willis “grandpa,” as if acknowledging that Willis' age makes him a bit too old for the role now.
The dialogue is the worst part of the movie, though. Willis delivers some cringe-worthy zingers while battling bad guys. The conversations between McClane and his son are meant to be emotional high points among all the carnage, but they come off stilted, as if the actors are reading their lines for the first time.
One gets the sense that this is a paycheck movie for Willis, who sleepwalks through the infamous role. When Die Hard was released in 1988, the movie and Willis’ performance revolutionized action movies. They had to have a flair for the comedic and a good sense of character after the musician and off-Broadway actor got his hands on the archetypal alpha-male role.
But that was 25 years ago, and there comes a time when a cowboy needs to hang up his guns. It should have been before he decided to go to Russia to help his wayward son.