This fourth sequel to Die Hard has Bruce Willis (who impressed many along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the thoughtful time-traveling Looper) in full lively action persona again as an older, battered, if wiser veteran cop John McClane. Too much, though, in cliched, passe "yippee kay-yay" mode that still may not matter based on a rousing advertising campaign.
A Good Day To Die Hard starts out well enough as sharp-tongued McClane is "just on vacation" in Moscow to visit his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney of Jack Reacher) as there are some frenetic street chases to behold.
As Jack is connected to a murder of a colleague of powerful, shady businessman Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov), dad's untimely visit becomes a chaotic chance to bond by joining forces with the wayward CIA agent. Apparently, Russia is going through much tumult from the trial of ex-billionaire Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch of Unknown and The Lives of Others), a kind of political prisoner who is targeted by Chagarin. And, used by him in an illicit surreptitious production of weapons of mass destruction.
Genre fans, not very discerning ones, will find enough of visceral, turbo-ride pulse, especially on Giant or IMAX screens with a powerful Dolby surround sound effects. Yet, for those familiar with the franchise, even just the previous DC-based Live Free or Die Hard over half a decade ago opening up to 21st-century cyberterrorism, this time under the direction of John Moore (Flight of the Phoenix, Max Payne) and writing in part by Skip Woods (The A-Team) it doesn't use the foreign landscape for larger-scaled thrills. This adventure is surprisingly condensed in unexciting fashion with convoluted, twisty predilections from the Cold War that leads to predictable climactic confrontation.
The production includes hand-held lensing which becomes excessive even if it sharply paces the motion at certain points. There's not enough overall consistency in the staging of the set-pieces with plenty of pugnacious activity that Len Wiseman did in the very over-the-top, but more enjoyably aforementioned Live Free... Probably Woods fashioned the material in ways that is too bogged down or hackneyed that tries to navigate its way from a silly premise.
Even with McClane's one-liners, Willis can only give it so much pizzazz alongside a pretty vapid, bland Courtney. Even Koch and Kolesnikov don't have the opportunity to showcase what really limits their skills. This shaky, ineffectively distracting A Good Day might finally have studio executives thinking twice about how Die Hard was once less grounded and more ambitiously reinvigorated popcorn entertainment.