A Good Day to Die Hard review (Blu-ray)

This latest instalment in the venerable franchise sees big Bruce in a foreign clime – dank, dangerous Moscow. His John McClane has to go there to find out what's happened to his son (Courtney), whom he's had no contact with for a couple of years. Said son is in deep trouble. Drugs? Nope. Girls? Nope. He's a actually a covert spy, trying to protect a decidedly dodgy Soviet bureaucrat (Koch).

A secret file is sought that will derail the current government and this Russian geezer knows where to find it. Unfortunately, there are multifarious foes to their quest and McClane senior is flung into thick-ear action almost immediately – with a fierce car chase along the bustling streets and double crossings ensuing with quickfire abandon.

The second half takes them to another well known Russian destination – that famous hot spot Chernobyl. More rapid gunfire, explosions and stunts are deployed – there's one great set piece involving an impressive helicopter that delivers all the bangs for the buck that you could wish for. Because the pyrotechnics are so loud and all-consuming the dialogue is sometimes difficult to comprehend, especially with the foreign accents that one has to contend with too. The odd moments of father-son bonding are reliably underplayed by the stalwart leads and prove welcome respite between the shootouts.

It's a minor addition to the Die Hard canon, though – formulaic and frenetic. It has abundant high energy in delivering the action, but there is little scope for originality. A fast-moving exercise in violent mayhem, it could do with a little more humour to leaven the relentless depictions of carnage and it lacks the gleeful satisfaction the original movie so enjoyably inspired 25 years ago. Still, tightly packaged and perfectly serviceable, it will keep Die Hard fans happy until the next, hopefully better, adventure comes along.

THE BLU-RAY comes as an extended, "harder" edition (although the shorter theatrical version is also available on the disc). One big scene missing is early on (about seven minutes in) when McClane's daughter, Lucy, drops John at the airport. The whole conversation between the two is gone. Overall, the content is more violent – bullets have more impact, and there's more bloodspray – and there's also more swearing. And the "family reunion" scene at the end is gone. It's neither better nor worse than the theatrical version, just different, with a bit more of an edge to it.

EXTRAS ★★★★ This really is a very well-packaged Blu-ray release. As well as the extended, harder cut of the film, you get: an audio commentary by Moore and First AD Mark Cotne (only on the Extended Cut); seven deleted scenes (14:28); terrific the 15-part featurette Making It Hard To Die (1:00:22); the featurette Anatomy Of A Car Chase (26:12); the featurette Two Of A Kind (8:00); the featurette Back In Action (7:06); the featurette The New face Of Evil (6:57); the three-part Pre-Vis featurette (11:36), which shows computer-animated storyboards for some of the action set pieces; the 16-part VFX Sequences featurette (5:53); the featurette Maximum McClane (3:16), a mashup of scenes from all five Die Hard films (he does say fuck a lot); five Storyboards; a Concept Art Gallery; and two Theatrical Trailers. Impressive.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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