The quarter-century-old action franchise that started with 1988's "Die Hard" seems to have reached its own death throes with "A Good Day to Die Hard" (Fox). This fifth installment rests on the premise that killing can be an awful lot of fun.
New York detective and series protagonist John McClane (Bruce Willis) is on the trail of his son Jack (Jai Courtney) who appears to have gotten in with the wrong crowd in Moscow. Things in Mother Russia are not what they seem, however, and an explosives-ridden car chase reveals that the elder McClane has underestimated his offspring.
Mostly reconciled, despite some lingering resentment, Dad and Junior team up to protect a government whistleblower named Komarov (Sebastian Koch) from a variety of villains. In the process, of course, they kick up just the kind of carnage that made the quartet of earlier flicks box-office gold.
In a misguided attempt to keep the proceedings light-hearted, director John Moore presents a jaunty view of bloodletting. And, on occasion, he invites the audience to revel in the mayhem; slow-motion death scenes make an obvious appeal to moviegoers' basest, most visceral instincts.
The rudimentary efforts at character development in Skip Woods' screenplay, meanwhile, are drowned amidst a murky tide of run-and-gun action.
The film contains constant violence, some of it gory, occasional profanity, frequent rough and crude language and two obscene gestures. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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