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IT'S been quite a month for 1980s action heroes to roar back on to the screen. First came Arnold Schwarzenegger, back blowing things up in The Last Stand at the age of 65. Then Sylvester Stallone, 66, showed off his muscles in Bullet to the Head. And now Bruce Willis, who turns 58 next month, stars in the fifth Die Hard film. Sadly, it's just no good. The first Die Hard, back in 1988, was a classic and subsequent ones have also been entertaining. Many raised their eyebrows when Die Hard 4 resurrected the franchise in 2007 after a 12 year gap, but it worked well, with a decent plot and some grseat one-liners. Rubbish Die Hard 5 - which goes by the bad title of A Good Day To Die Hard - is a sequel too far. I can only assume Bruce signed up for the cash, because the script is frankly rubbish.

The action moves out of America for a change, which is really just an excuse to indulge in some shocking xenophobic behaviour. The Die Hard baddies have usually been foreigners, back to the first and best, Alan Rickman. But now New York cop John McClane, who should surely be retired by now, flies to Moscow. One of his first encounters with a local is when he crashes into his car. The man is understandably angry and starts shouting at him in Russian. McClane's response is to punch him and bark: "Do you think I can understand a word you say?" How dare they speak their own language in their own country! In cinemas across the States, they will all be booing the nasty Russians who say things like: "Do you know what I hate about Americans? Everything."

The message throughout is that no foreigner can be trusted. McClane is in Moscow to help his son Jack (Jai Courtney), who has been imprisoned. Dad thinks he's going to help, but in fact he's just ruining Junior's plan. Unbeknown to McClane, Jack is a CIA agent who is trying to escape with Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), the former partner of highranking official Chagarin. Komarov claims to have a file which can bring down Chagarin, which makes him a target of both the CIA and his former friend.

Relations are strained between father and son - when they meet, rather than hug, Jack pulls a gun on his dad. For the first half-hour there is very little dialogue as cars smash, things are blown up and people die in a hail of bullets. It's the usual stuff, not carried out with any style or originality. It's probably best they don't say much because the dialogue is clunky, especially when trying to express their emotions.

Their attempts to bond are cringemaking. Where are the snappy lines Die Hard is famous for? Even the most famous phrase, beginning Yippee-ki-yay, is shortened, shoehorned in and has no impact. It doesn't even look good. After a brief spell in Moscow, the action moves to the bleak ruins of Chernobyl, which could have been filmed in a warehouse in Slough.

The plot is shallower than a puddle and full of holes. A Good Day To Die Hard is blunt and boring, with no humour or finesse. It's the biggest release of the week but it's certainly not the best. This would be a good day to kill this franchise for ever.


Bruce Willis and his on-screen son, Jai Courtney.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2013
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