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Not a good day.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (12A, 98 mins) 4/10 HALFWAY through this outlandish fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise, a Russian henchman scolds John McClane (Bruce Willis) for recklessness in the face of certain death.

"So arrogant," sneers the East European underling, "it's not 1986, you know!" No it's not, despite the Cold War stereotypes that perpetuate Skip Woods's shambolic script.

A Good Day To Die Hard is a high-speed tour down Memory McClane that cynically exploits our nostalgia for one of modern cinema's most tenacious action heroes.

It's been 25 years since Willis's wise-cracking cop stormed the Nakatomi Plaza to rescue his wife from German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in the original Die Hard.

Since then, McClane has demolished an airport, played deadly games with Gruber's psychotic brother (Jeremy Irons) and hacked down a gang of cyber terrorists in the company of his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). For this latest assignment, estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) enters the cinematic fray, joining the old man on a testosterone-fuelled romp through Moscow.

There's no art, creativity or invention in John Moore's overblown sequel; no subtlety nor emotion, even with the strained father-son relationship at the heart of Woods's screenplay.

Just outrageous set pieces which defy the laws of physics, deafening explosions that shake the entire cinema and Willis delivering his "Yippee-ki-yay" catchphrase with a weariness we share by the end credits.

The perfunctory plot dispatches McClane to the gridlocked Russian capital to visit his son Jack, who has been arrested for murder.

No sooner has John strutted into Moscow than terrorists blow up the courthouse with the intention of kidnapping high-profile prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), who holds vital information that could bring down corrupt Russian politician Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). As the dust settles, McClane sees his son leading Komarov to safety with gun-toting assassins in hot pursuit.

A Good Day To Die Hard is a soulless money-machine exercise.

The plot is crudely bolted together, sandwiching pyrotechnics between fractious father-son bonding.

There's no palpable screen chemistry between Willis and Courtney, which undermines the gradual reconciliation of their two characters. Pithy one-liners are noticeably thin on the ground and while stunts are undoubtedly bigger than previous films, they are certainly not better, including a crunching car chase and a laughable high-rise showdown with a helicopter gunship. It's anything but a good day for Die Hard.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (12A, 124 mins) 7/10 SEVENTEEN-year-old Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is itching to escape the backwater of Gatlin for the big city.

His restlessness is soothed by the arrival of Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), the enigmatic niece of reclusive landowner Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons). Alas, Lena is reluctant to let Ethan into her life because she is a Caster and on her forthcoming 16th birthday she must take part in a ritual known as the Claiming, which will dictate whether she is destined to use her powers for good or evil. A burgeoning attraction to Ethan - a mortal - is forbidden but Lena cannot resist his goofy grin, despite dire warnings from Bible-bashing busybody Mrs Lincoln (Emma Thompson) and town librarian Amma (Viola Davis).

THIS IS 40 (15, 133 mins) 6/10 PETE (Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have raised two beautiful daughters, 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow) and eight-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow), but are now stuck in a rut.

As Debbie goes into denial about turning 40 in the very same week that Pete celebrates the same milestone, husband and wife re-evaluate their stagnating marriage.

They decide an emotional spring clean is in order, which has dramatic repercussions for Pete's cash-strapped father (Albert Brooks) and Debbie's employees (Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi) at her upscale clothing boutique, one of whom is dipping her polished nails into the till.

MOVIES A Good Day To Die Hard is a high-speed tour down Memory McClane ...

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| GUN-TOTERS: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch in A Good Day To Die Hard
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 15, 2013
Words:658
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