Friday, February 15, 2013

Willis Does it Again in 'A Good Day'

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney play a reunited father and son
in "A Good Day to Die Hard."

Bruce Willis and action films have become synonymous over the years just like his brethren of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, unlike Stallone and Schwarzenegger, he can still draw an audience where as the other two are having a hard time getting people to their latest “Bullet to the Head” and “The Last Stand.” Granted, he is eight and nine years younger than the other two, but he’s also become pretty wrinkled over the years, so it basically evens out.

Some may have a hard time remembering that he got his start in acting doing comedy. Willis first appeared on the scene on TV in 1985 in the almost forgotten “Moonlighting” opposite Cybill Shepherd. It wasn’t until 1988 that he played the role of John McClane in “Die Hard.” Fourteen years and four sequels later, he’s back this week in “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

McClane is a dysfunctional family man. In the first film, he battled German terrorists while saving his estranged wife. In the second, he has to save her on a plane. In “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” he tries to make a call to her, but has to fight off some bad guys in New York City first. In the fourth, his daughter gets kidnapped. Finally, in latest installment, John travels to Russia to find his long-lost and “most wanted” son, Jack (Jai Courtney). Can’t this family stay out of trouble?

Even though each successive film is technically a sequel, each is their own stand alone film with returning characters. The father/son storyline is almost an excuse to have a storyline between all the action. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily as it holds the pieces in place. Throughout the film and between punches, Willis keeps asking his son, “Why do you hate me?” There are about 30 lines of dialogue in the whole film with half of them devoted to similar conversations.
We never really find out why the two are estranged except that Willis states that he was gone a lot when his kids were growing up. However, unlike many deadbeat dads, he has a better excuse.

“If you’re going to see a fuzzy warm family reunion film, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a non-stop action film, this one’s for you. The beginning is a little confusing, but not only for the audience, but for McClane himself which is part of the fun. You get to put the pieces together as he does, and it isn’t that complicated.

To explain the plot would be to ruin the story. The movie is full of explosions, crashed cars and blood. Fortunately, the gore is left off the screen for the most part. Still, it is rated R for a reason. Courtney does a great job as John’s son and eerily looks a lot like Willis. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and Willis has a few great lines like “Do you really think that I have any idea what you’re saying?” to an outraged Russian driver who just ran into him on the street. The bad guys are bad and the good guys are good.  Very simply, a fun ride. (Originally posted on Examiner.com)


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