5th In 'Die Hard' Series Is Filled With Action

Given how much money the Die Hard franchise has made, it's not surprising that A Good Day To Die Hard plays like an extended victory lap for star Bruce Willis. Not surprising, but not a whole lot of fun either.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's go big now to a big screen franchise that's grossed more than a billion dollars worldwide. We're talking about the "Die Hard" series, and the new "A Good Day to Die Hard" is the fifth in the franchise. Critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Given how much money the "Die Hard" franchise has made, it's not surprising that "A Good Day to Die Hard" plays like an extended victory lap for star Bruce Willis. Not surprising, but not a whole lot of fun either. Having run out of domestic opponents, New York City detective John McClane is headed to Moscow on family business, searching for a son he had a falling out with years before - a son he is informed is now languishing in a Russian prison. As he gets on a plane, his daughter gives McClane one final piece of advice, sure to be ignored.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD")

MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD: (as Lucy) Dad, try, try not to make an even bigger mess of things.

TURAN: When McClane bumps into his son on the streets of Moscow, he turns out to be not some disreputable criminal but a top CIA agent trying to spirit a Russian dissident out of the country. Eager to help, McClane fills the air with bullets, but domestic peace is more of a challenge.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD")

BRUCE WILLIS: (as John) Need a hug?

JAI COURTNEY: (as Jack) We're not a hugging family.

WILLIS: Damn straight.

TURAN: Director John Moore has spared no expense or expertise in terms of action. A lot of stuff gets blown up in "A Good Day to Die Hard," and stunts that must have cost the Earth appear with killing regularity.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

TURAN: There's even a guest appearance by the world's largest helicopter, the 25-ton behemoth known as Miss Belarus. Hardware is one thing, but inspiration is something else, and in that area "A Good Day to Die Hard" comes up short. The best of the "Die Hard" films believed in exhilaration and fun, qualities that have unaccountably gone AWOL here. The half-asleep nature of Willis' performance doesn't help a film that is no one's idea of a wake-up call. Victory laps can be pleasant enough, but if no one's heart is in them, what's the point?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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