well, numerous warnings were given, it has to be said. i had not seen, read or heard of anyone saying anything good at all about the latest Die Hard film, the one featuring the most creative name A Good Day To Die Hard. i was informed that it was rubbish and boring.
such reviews missed, i feel, the point. it was not rubbish, it was simply ridiculous.boring? not really. yeah, a bit predictable a times, but never dull. it's a Bruce Willis action film, people, what were you expecting or hoping for, exactly?
the film really merits a look at some of its most class moments instead of a straightforward review, so please note that a *** HUGE BIG SPOILER WARNING *** is in place for the rest of this review, or at least the bits after the poster....
if you are reading this and have not seen the film, don't blame me for ruining it. turn around now, go back to the other internet thing you were on. this is not the blog you seek at this stage.
right, where to begin? the name i guess.
the film should in fact be called Хороший день, чтобы Крепкий орешек
one thing all commentators of the film have got spot on is the complaint about the amount of subtitles you have to read to "watch" this film. i think about half of it is in Russian for "authenticity", but it doesn't half get annoying after a while. they should have just done that trick that they did in the film of The Hunt For Red October and just switch to English after a little bit of Russian.
the CIA are stupid - Exhibit A
John McClane's son is a deep undercover operative working in Russia. he has an excellent cover story, stumbled upon by some members of the New York constabulary and it is believed by John McClane as soon as he sees it.
what a bloody shame that the CIA did not think to keep tabs on Mr McClane, for if they did then they probably could have stopped him getting onto a plane to Russia and ruining all their plans.
Moscow taxi drivers are over-friendly and generous, possibly simpletons too
when stuck in a traffic jam in Moscow, if you let the taxi driver sing a little bit of Frank Sinatra for you he will 'fess up to the fact that you are better off walking and will refuse to accept money for the journey thus far. under no circumstances will he try to rip you off or fleece you.
this could be a particularly useful bit of info for anyone considering going to Russia when the World Cup is held there, so please write it down and brush up your knowledge of the Chairman Of The Board.
family reunions can be a little bit distressing but perseverance pays off
John McClane has not seen his son for quite some time. apparently they did not leave on good terms the last time they did see each other, since McClane jnr, ostensibly called Jack (how imaginative) at first tries to run over his dad and then, when that fails, considers just shooting him in the face.
John McClane is not at all put off by this reaction. when his son speeds off with just whoever it is that he's supposed to be smuggling out of Russia, John finds an armoured vehicle right there on the corner. unlocked and with the keys in. surely, you would think, this must be a sign to go and follow his son. and so it is, for so he does!
the KGB has been replaced by, for the most part, magic
Jack considering shooting his dad in the face has cost his mission valuable seconds. so many seconds, in fact, that the CIA have advised him he has lost his "extraction window" and the city of Moscow has now been shut down. they even have a classy radar thing with a blipping red outline to show that no one can get in or out of Moscow.
how did they shut down the city like that? a good question, i will give you that, and one that neither i nor the film has an answer for. the only police and military presence you ever see in this whole sequence is right here in the next picture.
not really a big massive operation to close down Moscow, then, is it? strangely, this whole city shut down thing does something fascinating to the traffic. for some reason all traffic heading in to the city remains jammed, but the roads out of Moscow somehow free up, allowing for a most pleasant drive.
you would have thought that if the coppers or the military wanted to stop someone getting out of Moscow, hence the magical "lockdown ring" thing, they might have wanted to stop the free flow of traffic out of the city?
the lack of any sort of visible police or army in this city lockdown helps the next set of action sequences along very well indeed, thank you, as does the patience and understanding of Muscovites.
ramping cars off bridges in Moscow is the easiest thing in the world
despite not having a clue where he is or what he's doing, John McClane manages to follow a specific roue and spots the truck that his somewhat hostile son is driving. with John McClane being unsure as to if Moscow has the same kind of highway system as the US, ie on and off ramps, he decides the best way to get on to the correct road to follow his son is to do a 3 point turn and ramp his recently stolen vehicle off a bridge.
if you thought that the Moscow taxi drivers sounded like thoroughly good chaps, that's nothing compared to the other drivers. apparently Moscow drivers have a great intuition when it comes to Americans on their roads, for most of them stop and give McClane as much space as he needs to ramp the car. none of them even hoot!
such generosity allows McClane to have a bit of an impromptu game of "real Carmageddon" as he does his ramping thing.
how fortunate that the only vehicle McClane could steal was quite capable of holding up to the demands of a game of Carmageddon whilst suffering only minimal damage. i don't think the windscreen even gets a crack in it.
wow, stop me if you think you've heard this one before. a sniper with some tremendous precision manages to perfectly shoot the single most expendable person in a room.
the sniper finds it impossible to hit either McClane, although in fairness they do get this Russian that they're trying to smuggle out of Russia. well, they nick his arm.
the universal language
McClane jnr, McClane snr and this Russian chap whose name escapes me (Yuri, maybe, or the one that is not called Yuri) need to get into a building that has been shut down, only shut down with a slightly bigger police presence than when the whole of Moscow got shut down.
i say slighty as whilst the front entrance is a copfest, the only guards at the back of the building are some laundry dudes.
whilst McClane jnr contemplates a plan to sneak in, McClane snr goes for the universal language approach.
cash is king. cash opens doors. money fixes everything. everyone has a price.
the CIA are stupid - Exhibit B
if you are going to extract a wanted man from the country where he is wanted, it might be a good idea - and i am no expert here - to do some research on him. the CIA seem oblivious to the fact that this chap has a daughter and that he will want to take with him away from Russia. showing off their versatility, though, the CIA (or if you will the McClane boys by this point) happily arrange for the daughter to be collected.
it's here where the flaw in not knowing he had a daughter or anything about her tends to be exposed. a little bit of research might have led them to discover that she likes her father about as much as Jack McClane likes his father. whoops.
there is always time for song and dance and indeed a carrot
Jack and John McClane have f****d up your city and have f****d up a large number of the heavily armed, well train thugs that work with you. you have them unarmed, tied up and ready to be shot.
the perfect time, then, to eat a carrot and show off a few of your smooth moves, lamenting the fact that you spend your life killing people instead of pursuing your love of tap dancing.
there is never enough time to check for concealed weapons
both Jack and John look like honest, decent chaps. the kind of American that Bruce Springsteen sings of frequently, just without working on the railroad or similar. as such, when you ask them to hand over their weapons you would be right to assume that they will be honest enough to give you all of them. there will be no need to search them for any hidden ones, especially not something as simple and obvious as a knife shoved down the back of a boot.
schießen das Glas
SHOOT THE GLASS!
as an awesome filled moment of awesome tip of the hat awesomeness, John McClane shooting the glass to the distress of others is up there with Charlie Sheen turning up in Wall Street Money Never Sleeps just to say "Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel" .
there's also a lovely homage to both the original Die Hard and The Last Boy Scout towards the end of the film. if you make it that far.
Russian cars are really fast or Russian helicopters are really slow
the distance from Russia to Chernobyl is about 690 kilometers. the baddies go there in a helicopter, the McClane boys go via car. they both arrive within minutes of each other. in fairness, the helicopter does get there first.
in slightly less fairness, it is not like the McClane boys get in a car and chase the helicopter. first off they have a little bit of a twat about pulling shrapnel out of their bodies. then they do a bit of bonding, a bit of wondering as to where the helicopter might be going, a bit more bonding and then decide the helicopter has gone to Chernobyl.
then they have to get a car to get them there. this leads to a bit of a debate about both the ethics and best way of stealing a car. and then of course they debate which is the best Chechnyan gangster car to steal, which involves them looking in the boot of all the Chechnyan gangster cars they can find to see which has the best weapons.
on that note, Chechnyan gangsters are apparently wise enough to leave their weaponry in the car as they are out on the town so that bullets do not disrupt their entertainment or dinner, but apparently not quite wise enough to leave anyone at all outside observing or guarding their cars full of weapons. and bodies.
it is now OK to make jokes about the Chernobyl disaster
heading to Chernobyl allows John McClane to make a number of jokes and witty observations (by his standards) about Chernobyl, the nuclear power station meltdown and the physical side effects of being exposed to radiation.
not may have braved this as a subject for humour in the past, certainly not in a mainstream movie. perhaps this is the makers of the Die Hard films simply testing the water a bit - if they get away with the comments in this film about Chernobyl, then who knows? maybe one day they can live the dream and set a Die Hard film in Auschwitz or even maybe the Gaza Strip?
speaking of jokes and radiation......
radiation? nuclear fallout? fixed.
Chernobyl turns out to still have a lot of radiation about it, in particular in the airtight rooms that have been sealed since the disaster. this, you would think, means that they are no-go areas, even if you have a protective suit on.
it does not mean that at all. the Russians, you see, appear to have invented something that i think was called "247 gas". it was something like that. anyway, you take this gas, spray it around a bit from a backpack that looks like the sort of thing they used in Ghostbusters and voila! all radiation vanishes within seconds!
that you can prevent the spread of radiation and fallout from a nuclear explosion or a reactor leak means that you can kind of do the unthinkable - win a nuclear war. oh no, no nation with both nuclear weapons and ths gas would think to do that, would they? rather just leave this miracle gas somewhere that terrorists / thieves can get it as and when they need to instead.
this is going to be convoluted, so bear with me. this Russian chap that the CIA were so keen to get out of Russia had no idea that the CIA wished to help him. as far as he was aware, he was off to court for a sensational showtrial, set up by a business partner that had betrayed him and now was going to make sure he died so as not to damage his political ambitions.
Yuri or Not Yuri, however, is a planner. a planner of note. at some point he decided to set it up so that if on the off chance an American tried to rescue him, and then that American's father would turn up and cock up the rescue plan a bit, and then he got as far away as Chernobyl to get some sort of secret thing, the arrangements and timing would all be in place so that at the precise moment he found a phone and called this double crossing fabulous showtrial arranger it would be when he had arranged for a (presumably fake) masseuse to strangle him for his listening pleasure.
man, that is quite a plan to set up on the off chance that it might happen!
plutonium, as a weapon, is utter, utter, utter crap
this is, to quote Yuri or Not Yuri, what One Billion Euros of "weapons grade plutonium" looks like when it gets blown up. blown up, might i add, by means of loading it into a jeep, shoving the jeep in a helicopter and then dangling the jeep off the end of the helicopter until it falls off.
that particular explosion does some superficial damage to the paint on the buildings, and makes the people near it duck a bit.
by comparison, this is a (possibly very slow) helicopter with about fifty bucks worth of AK47 ammo in it blowing up.
this particular explosion causes entire levels of a building to shatter, makes the McClane boys duck into water for dear life and leaves a cloud of smoke that is visible the next day.
again, i am not going to claim to be an expert, but to me it seems that improvised bombs made out of helicopters and some leftover ammo are way more effective than ones made out of a great deal of expensive plutonium.
Russia has no law enforcement whatsoever
you would think that after trashing several cars and bodies in Moscow, and then heading off to Chernobyl to set off one crap plutonium bomb and one mega helicopter bomb, the constabulary may well be inclined to feel the collar of Jack and/or John McClane. alas, no. despite their best efforts to alert the authorities to their presence, the two are free to wander the grounds of Chernobyl (now radiation free, thanks to that class gas) until mid-morning, until they decide that they now might as well go home.
i mean, even if the Russians weren't particularly interested in pursuing charges against the two of them, or even asking if they wouldn't at all mind giving them a rundown on what all the blowing up and trashing was all about, you'd have thought that the CIA might have at least sent someone to pick them up from a neighbouring, NATO friendly nation. alas, no.
that's pretty much the whole film for you right there, give or take a few bits of fancy shooting and conventional driving. i have probably missed out a number of lessons and insights from the film, but never mind, i am sure they will be present in the sixth film which you just know they will make.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!