The fourth sequel in the lucrative Die Hard movie franchise may feature the series’ familiar star spouting wisecracks and taking his usual beating, but this fifth Die Hard film despite a couple of stupendous action sequences seems the most generic and uninspired of the lot. It’s a tremendous letdown especially since the last installment Live Free or Die Hard had, despite some late film outrageousness, one of the most entertaining scenarios since the original movie. Here, the concept is sound and possesses potential, but it wasn't ultimately realized by the filmmakers.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: Not Rated, R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 39 Min., I Hr. 41 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/04/2013
When NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) receives word that his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is in serious trouble in Moscow with life imprisonment his most encouraging outcome, papa McClane hops on a jet and arrives in the city just in time to see his son being transported into the courthouse to stand trial along with Russian dissident Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch). When the building explodes and Jack and Yuri escape to a waiting vehicle, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. And things get even more convoluted when Yuri’s daughter Irina (Yulia Snigir) kidnaps him once Jack thinks they’re safe, and in league with Russian terrorist Alik (Rasha Bukvic), she forces her father at gunpoint to go to a secret vault in Chernobyl to get incriminating evidence on a Russian leader the terrorists want. Meanwhile, squabbling father and son McClane realize they’ve got to work together if they’re to accomplish Jack’s mission which as a CIA operative he was trying to carry out working undercover until his father showed up to ruin all his careful planning.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
The movie seems off to a home viewer from the very beginning when one realizes that it’s not being presented in the wide Panavision aspect ratio as the previous four films have been. The film is also close to a half hour shorter than the other films in the series (not a bad thing there; they’re often guilty of taking on unnecessarily extra stunts to expand the running time), but this gives the movie a less than grandiose feel. Skip Woods’ screenplay makes sure there are crosses and double crosses along the way as in several of the previous movies where people are not always who they seem to be, but these “incriminating letters” and later crates of uranium cores seem much more generic MacGuffins compared to the objectives of the villains from the previous movies. With McClane in Moscow out of his element, one would think more would have been done with his frustrations over the language barrier and local customs, but none of those things pose much of a problem at all. Director John Moore has set up a couple of hyper-elaborate action sequences. A chase through the streets of Moscow is almost twenty minutes long, and while much of it is no more impressive than chases seen in innumerable Bond and Bourne films, one must admit that there are a few tricks late in the sequence that are absolutely breathtaking. The climactic helicopter attack sequence is mindful of helicopters used in the first and third films in the series (and the second one set in the D.C. airport has numerous flying machines) but features a great deal of impressive firepower. However, as the films have progressed through the years, John McClane has taken on increasingly superhuman powers of invulnerability and rapid recuperation that have pushed the audience’s suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. Here he drops numerous times several stories through glass, awnings, and tubes with no broken bones and merely a few cuts and scrapes (and his son has inherited his father’s superhuman recuperative powers when a steel piling goes through his lower abdomen and is pulled out by his father with no appreciable blood loss).
Bruce Willis plays his familiar John McClane character with the same patented wiseacre smugness and snap of old, but with an action co-star by his side, he has less to do this time out, and the ingenuity needed to figure out ways to get around the bad guys is sadly lacking in this sequel (they steal one of the villain’s cars with guns and ammo and even a change of clothes in the trunk, and there always seems to be a handy vehicle available when McClane needs one). Jai Courtney has an acceptable resemblance to his screen father to pass as his son, but he doesn’t milk the anger or the brooding tenderness nearly as much as he should for the film to maximize its father-son bonding experience. Sebastian Koch plays his duplicitous villain well, but Yulia Snigir is a much less effective femme fatale than Colleen Camp and Maggie Q were in previous installments. Rasha Bukvic has some amusing moments as a smiling assassin who’d rather tap his way to a murder than merely walk to one.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Shot digitally, the film is usually quite sharp and detailed, but sharpness isn’t consistent throughout the presentation. Color saturation levels are very good, and flesh tones are natural. Black levels are really excellent, and details in shadows are never a problem. The white subtitles are very easy to read. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is exactly the kind of hyperactive sound experience one wants from an action movie. With split effects which constantly ping around the soundstage (including outstanding use of the two back channels in the 7.1 mix), terrific use of the LFE channel, and a magnificent spread of Marco Beltrami’s driving score through the fronts and rears, the mix offers a marvelous aural experience. Dialogue is rooted to the center channel.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Extended Cut: the disc offers the viewer the chance to watch the theatrical cut or the two-minutes longer extended cut.
Special Features Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: director John Moore and first assistant director Mark Cotone have a breezy conversation during the running time. Not an essential listen since the bonus featurettes which spotlight them detail most of the important aspects of the making of the picture.
Deleted Scenes (14:28, HD): seven scenes which may be viewed separately or together using the “Play All” feature.
Making It Hard to Die (1:00:22, HD): documentary concentrates on many members of the crew and cast who comment on the specific aspects of the film which make it a part of the series: the stunts, the aerial shots, the special effects work, the use of a motion base, the weaponry, the locations, the production’s look, the Chernobyl set, the camerawork and use of numerous cameras, the color grading, and the music.
Anatomy of a Car Chase (26:12, HD): crew members and cast comment on the combination of real life photography, special effects, and stunt work on a freeway set that combine to produce the film’s most exciting set piece.
Two of a Kind (8:00, HD): Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney talk about their characters and the relationship between them and producers Alex Young and Wyck Godfrey weigh in on their feelings about their two leading actors.
Back in Action (7:06, HD): Bruce Willis talks about taking on the role of John McClane once again along with the producers expressing their delight with his famous characterization.
The New Face of Evil (6:57, HD): features brief interviews with the film’s three main villains played by Sebastian Koch, Yulia Snigir, and Rasha Bukvic.
Pre-Vis (11:36, HD): three computer-plotted action sequences which can be played in montage or individually.
VFX Sequences (5:35, HD): sixteen brief sequences which show special effects being layered on to complete a shot. May be auto played or manually advanced.
Storyboards (7:12, HD): five action sequences in storyboard form which may be auto advanced or paged through manually.
Concept Art Gallery (10:47, HD): six galleries of drawings which can be auto advanced or paged through manually.
Two Theatrical Trailers (3:30, HD): can be watched individually or as one using “Play All.”
Maximum McClane (3:16, HD): a montage of famous clips from the four previous Die Hard movies.
A Good Day to Die Hard is one of those films that had much potential in the conception stage but which simply wasn’t brought to fruition with the amount of polish and sass that fans of the franchise are looking for. The Blu-ray package presents an excellent video and audio representation of the theatrical experience and has enough bonus features to satisfy fans of the movie.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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