Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

'Die Hard,' the Next Generation

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

'Die Hard,' the Next Generation

Article excerpt

Bruce Willis returns for the fifth installment in the "Die Hard" series, and this time his character's son comes along for the ride.

A Good Day to Die Hard. Directed by John Moore.

"It's not 1986 anymore," a sneering Russian villain (one of several in "A Good Day to Die Hard") says to John McClane. "Reagan is dead."

McClane is in no position to argue at just that moment, though you can be sure he will have the last word. (It's not "Yippee ki- yay," which is reserved for a different Russian villain and which has somehow joined "Make my day" and "I'll be back" in the lexicon of deathless action-movie catchphrases.) But the bad guy's remark pays oblique homage to the longevity of the "Die Hard" franchise, which made a movie star of Bruce Willis in 1988, and also perhaps to its patriarchal, populist politics.

Back then McClane was an avatar of embattled American masculinity, a regular working stiff whose essential good humor was challenged by Japanese corporations, bureaucratic red tape, feminism and a nasty Euro-nihilist with a fancy suit and a silky accent. That those days are gone is signaled by the portrait of Barack Obama on the wall of the shooting range where we first encounter McClane in this movie, the fifth in the series.

McClane himself has evolved from angry Everyman to weary, worried dad. He travels to Moscow to help his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who at first looks like a bad seed but turns out to be a chip off the old block. Some dads take their boys fishing or to the ballgame or to a movie like this one, but the McClanes prefer a more primal form of bonding -- killing miscreants, though Pop McClane uses a more evocative word.

And there is never a shortage. The Cold War may be a fading memory, and C.I.A. superspies (like the younger McClane) may have displaced big-city cops (like his dad) in the pop-culture pantheon. But this off-the-shelf blend of car chases, fireballs and the rat-a- tat, thunk-a-thunk of automatic weapons fire is not likely to go out of style. Style, sad to say, is precisely what is missing from "A Good Day to Die Hard," the latest entry in the flourishing geezer- action genre. …

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