Rapid Review: A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

a good day to die hard poster

“What’s with the “John” shit? What happened to “Dad”?”
– John McClane

SYNOPSIS: Iconoclastic, take-no-prisoners cop John McClane, for the first time, finds himself on foreign soil after traveling to Moscow to help his wayward son Jack – unaware that Jack is really a highly-trained CIA operative out to stop a nuclear weapons heist. With the Russian underworld in pursuit, and battling a countdown to war, the two McClanes discover that their opposing methods make them unstoppable heroes. – via IMDB

a good day to die hard

GRADE 2Are you kidding me? Oh my goodness! I mean I have always heard that this one was the worst of the lot, I have read the rages, I have gone through it all, but I did not think it would be this bad. Hell, I had a friend who went out while he was in England to see this, paid in pounds and got up and left because he could not bear to suffer but one more minute of it. I think I am wholeheartedly in agreement there! Wow, what a pile of crap movie! Everything about this sucks. Let’s start with Jai Courtney… no wait, I will backtrack to this. Let’s start with  McClane’s kids… they are total freaking ingrates, rude to boot, and annoying as heck. Well, Junior more so than sister Lucy, but not by much. Goodness! I mean I know people have issues with their folks, most do, and I get that he was a relatively absent father and a douche, but come on! If they had set the premise up better for the both of the kids and McClane, I could have gotten more on board with it. However, it was not. Moving along from that back to Courtney… no. Just no. I have not seen a single thing with him in it yet where I thought he was alright. This was no exception. The story is a dreadful mess, and the humour is awful, not funny, forced and awkward I didn’t like it. Let’s not even talk about the sketchy as hell effects that are all over display here, I actually cringed. The dialogue… oh my goodness, why?! I see absolutely no reason why this movie needed to be made, nary a one. What a waste of my time. Ugh. There was like no chemistry between Willis and Courtney, and I cringed watching them together, and my eyes rolled at the shallow story that was predictable right off the bat. There was nothing that really had me rooting for anyone, I was over it within the first ten minutes, and the story makes these huge leaps and bounds that just don’t fit it. What a mess! I seriously cannot think of any redeeming factors, and I am going in loops here with all that I did not like, so maybe it is best I stop. I see what they were trying to do here, but they should have just left it well enough alone.

Rapid Review: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

live free or die hard poster

“You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin’. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can’t remember your last name. Your kids don’t want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy.”
– John McClane

SYNOPSIS: John McClane and a young hacker join forces to take down master cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel in Washington D.C. – via IMDB

live free or die hard

GRADE 7This one was actually much better than I thought it was going to be. It was also smarter than I expected, but it had some immense flaws. However, and I am about to get crucified for this I am sure, this is the best sequel I have seen of the lot. It was quite modern, and Bruce Willis manages to entertain us, even having moved along in the years. I maintain, McClane has the most ungrateful brats, really. I mean I know he must have screwed up and he is a bit cuckoo and all that, but he has always tried to do his best for his family, though it evidently didn’t work well. Though it would seem that is par for course for law enforcement. Anyway, even Justin Long wasn’t too bad here, and I didn’t feel like rolling my eyes whenever he got on screen. Mary Elizabeth Winstead had her moments where you could just tell she was totally McClane’s daughter. Watching everyone panic about the world economy crashing was quite interesting, too, because I cannot think that that would be a fun day ever. Timothy Olyphant’s Thomas Gabriel was also a more interesting villain, but fell short of the mark at times. The story was engaging and the action was exactly what you would expect from a Die Hard film – slightly ludicrous but quite gratifying. One particular scene involving a jet and a truck on the highway was too ridiculous, so I can’t really say I was willing to suspend belief that much, even though the entire plot is quite silly. The scene is question was just over the line for me. I think the biggest thing is turning your brain off when you are watching this, otherwise the nitpicking will completely ruin the viewing experience. Unless you are watching with someone you can rip the plotholes with, I think that could be fantastic. I don’t quite understand why this movie gets so much flak – it is fun, it is entertaining, the story isn’t bad, there are some solid performances here, and it looks good. This is certainly one that I would watch again sometime, though I am certainly in no hurry to do so.

Rapid Review: Die Hard – With A Vengeance (1995)

die hard with a vengeace poster

“Why me? What does he got to do with me?”
– John McClane

SYNOPSIS: A man calling himself “Simon” begins a reign of terror in the streets of New York: he threatens to detonate bombs around the city unless Detective John McClane cooperates in a game of “Simon Says”. McClane has a bad hangover and a bad attitude, and isn’t in the mood for games, especially this one. – via IMDB

die hard 3 with a vengeance

GRADE 6.5So, this one started out and is definitely different from the previous two. Something I was not a fan of, and I don’t care what anyone says about it, it is the race card. I know this is an old movie, and I know it was brave for the time, but I am so over hearing about “it’s because I’m black” and “it’s because I’m white” – and before you judge, chill here in South Africa for a little, and we will see how you feel about it then. It was relentlessly hammered in, over and over, and it was so unnecessary. It did not make me laugh. In fact, it just peeved me, as you so obviously can tell. Really bad. Okay, now that we have the race card bitch session out of the way, let’s move on to the movie. What I did like about this was the riddles, which gave a smarted edge to the movie, something that was not exactly present in the last one. However, it also featured characters I did not give a crap about and didn’t care to see whether they made it or not. The main villain was interesting, and I suppose it was good for tying the movies together, but this just wasn’t my favourite. I wonder if these movies really are just a male thing? I don’t know. It was shot quite well and looked pretty good, but the movie just never sucks you in the way it is supposed to, and Willis just came across as a little tired here, which is a pity, because he is usually the best thing about these films. Jeremy Irons was a solid pick for Simon, and definitely was worth a watch. Better to see him in person than to continually hear him on the phones. Uhm, again, don’t really have too much to say about this. I do feel that the movie picked up when it was established that the Federal Reserve was being hustled, and that’s where it got interesting and worth watching, but it is a long prelude to that, and the racial angle is littered throughout, so it makes for a chore to watch.


Rapid Review: Die Hard 2 (1990)

die hard 2 poster

“Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”
– John McClane

SYNOPSIS: John McClane attempts to avert disaster as rogue military officials seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. – via IMDB

die hard 2

GRADE 6.5Well, here we are, at it again. John McClane lives in the wrong place, wrong time scenario forevermore. Anyway, we are back at Christmastime, and things are just not good over the holidays for the McClanes like… ever. Bruce Willis is back and kicking as the ever-sarcastic McClane, and I still reckon he was an awesome pick for the role. Al appears in here, though only momentarily, and I did miss the banter between McClane and Al, but it was to be no more. Pity. The story wasn’t very in depth or revolutionary, and at the end of the day, while entertaining at the time, it is rather forgettable (I can hear those torches being lit and pitchforks being hauled out, but it is true). Die Hard 2 is one of those action movies that has the explosions and gunfire and all those aspects, so it ticks the boxes, but it isn’t exceptionally memorable or smart. There were interesting characters and annoying characters, but the plot itself was so thin at the end of the day, and isn’t quite as entertaining as the first. The villains are also completely bland, but then topping Hans Gruber will be no simple task. A big part that makes Die Hard 2 work is how Bruce Willis embraces his role of John McClane. Just to see him having some goofy fun is alright. It takes a really long time for anything to actually start happening, so that already counted against it. It wasn’t a slow burn, it just wasn’t doing anything, then went for over the top overkill. It was a little bit too obvious about things, which also detracted. While not a terrible sequel, it is certainly not as great as it was ultimately hoping to be. I don’t really have much more to say about it, as I will just continue to repeat my sentiments.

Rapid Review: Die Hard (1988)

die hard poster

“‘And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.’ Benefits of a classical education.”
– Hans Gruber

SYNOPSIS: NYPD cop John McClane goes on a Christmas vacation to visit his wife Holly in Los Angeles where she works for the Nakatomi Corporation. While they are at the Nakatomi headquarters for a Christmas party, a group of bank robbers led by Hans Gruber take control of the building and hold everyone hostage, with the exception of John, while they plan to perform a lucrative heist. Unable to escape and with no immediate police response, John is forced to take matters into his own hands. – via IMDB

die hard cowboy

GRADE 7.5Bruce Willis is endlessly entertaining as John McClane – he’s insufferable, he knows it, but he is really good at what he does, and he misses his family. So I suppose Hans Gruber deciding to screw with trying to patch things up with his wife wasn’t going to go down too well. The whole way through McClane is the man, and you have to admire and appreciate him. I had a good laugh at his silly comebacks and overall style. Alan Rickman needs to be commended for his role of Hans Gruber because that is one movie villain who is simply awesome. That’s right, awesome. I was not aware that this was his first feature length film, and I never would have guessed. He is so well constructed, intelligent and chilling and you just want to see what he will do. You know how I like my villains to be written! Plus the way that Rickman and Willis play off of each other is just wonderful – their continual banter and opposing desires were constantly at war. Gruber really was the biggest selling point for me when it came to this film. I also liked the chats between Al and McClane, got a few smiles in there. I enjoyed the way that this movie progressed – it takes time to set the scene, to start up and move on to the events that are about to unfold, and doesn’t become this crazy intense action movie immediately. It gets there, but it takes time, and that’s what makes this so good to watch, but it is also something that is going to count against the film for some. I am not one that minds a longer movie though. Maybe not Lethal Weapon great (do I hear the mobs assembling?), but cool nonetheless.

Review: Looper (2012)

looper movie poster

“I work as a specialized assassin, in an outfit called the Loopers. When my organization from the future wants someone to die, they zap them back to me and I eliminate the target from the future. The only rule is: never let your target escape… even if your target is you.”
– Joe

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in in the prime of his life and living it up. It is 2044 and his occupation is that of a looper for a Kansas City crime syndicate. He is basically a hitman that kills and disposes of the bodies he is sent by Abe (Jeff Daniels). A looper gets paid in silver bars strapped to the victim. Loopers can also retire, which means that a looper’s future self will be sent back thirty years as a target for themselves, but strapped with gold bars instead of silver bars. It is called “closing the loop”, and if a looper fails to do so, it is punishable by death.

Joe’s close friend Seth (Paul Dano) manages to screw up his target (being himself), thus not closing the loop. Seth is telekinetic, and terrified of what is to come. He confides in Joe that his future self (Frank Brennan) warned him of a terrible and mysterious person named the Rainmakes in the future, who has mysteriously overthrown the five major crime bosses alone and is ending all the loopers’ contracts in 2074. Joe hides Seth, and goes to see Abe. Kid Blue (Noah Segan) wants Seth, and bad. Joe plays innocent for a while, thinking about all his silver bars and the future he wishes for himself. Abe doesn’t have time, and drops the ultimatum: half the hidden silver or his friend. Selfishly, Joe sells out Seth, and deals with the guilt.

looper kill shot
“I’m gonna fix this! I’m gonna find him, and I’m gonna kill him!” – Joe

Joe’s next target arrives late, untied and exposed. He recognizes his older self (Bruce Willis). In shock, he fails to close the loop in time, and Old Joe escapes. Things are not working out for Young Joe, and he and Kid Blue have some massive fights. Young Joe blacks out. In an alternate timeline, Young Joe successfully closes his loop and moves to Shanghai, where his drug addiction does not wane. He excels at his job, yet later he meets a woman (Xu Qing) and they fall in love. Joe’s whole life is turned around, and she takes care of him, he lives a whole life. However, thirty years pass and Joe is taken to close the loop again. Unfortunately, his wife does not make it in the struggle. Joe overpowers his captors and goes back to 2044, unbound and uncovered, and we are back to where it all started.

looper joes in the diner
“My memory’s cloudy. It’s a cloud. Because my memories aren’t really memories. They’re just one possible eventuality now.” – Old Joe

Old Joe hides Young Joe and later explains to him that it is his mission to kill the Rainmaker as a child to change how things are in the future, making sure that he will not have to be looped back and his wife will be spared. Young Joe doesn’t seem to care, and unsuccessfully tries to close his loop. Old Joe has done some research into where this child will be, and is moving through three families he has marked off, hunting their kids. He is not sure which one is the future Rainmaker, but he is taking no chances. Young Joe follows a shred of the map he tore off from Old Joe and makes to go to the place. On the farm he tracks down, he meets Sara (Emily Blunt) and her young son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Young Joe needs to prove himself, but is only concerned about stopping his older self when he eventually turns up.

looper business gone bad
“Ask yourself: who would I sacrifice for what’s mine?” – Abe

However, it soon becomes evident that Cid is the future Rainmaker that Old Joe is hunting, and Young Joe has taken rather a liking to the kid. Is this child truly the responsibility of crippling the future crime bosses, becoming one of the most terrifying people in the world, feared by all? Is he really the one that cost Old Joe so much pain and suffering? Will Old Joe find the relevant family, and how will he and Young Joe hash things out to make things right? Does Young Joe still have the opportunity to make things right with his bosses?

Looper scores an 8/10. Definitely not a bad watch. The movie is rather complex, but not so much that you don’t understand, though it is incredibly important to understand everything from the get-go, because everything is built on that. I adore Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I thought he was good to watch (as always). They went to some extreme measures to change his appearance, and I personally thought that they did a good job to get him look closer to Bruce Willis, though it was terribly disconcerting. It threw me a little that he did not look so much like himself. Bruce Willis has typical action scenes in here, which is not a bad thing. He is an action star, after all. The story that was told in here was rather in depth, and quite a thing to follow, though not an impossibility. The cast was decent, the effects were fine and the story was fresh. It was innovative, and had me thinking all the way through, wondering what was coming, what was happening, what had happened as well as when the heck it happened. Definitely something new, and something that has not really been done quite like this. It is seldom that you come across something shiny, but this film has it all. They didn’t lose sight of the story or the characters, and found a way to work them all together seamlessly. Time travel is not always something that is executed very well, in my opinion, there is too much to go wrong. In this one, as complex as it was, they managed to keep it all rolling smoothly and without too many loose ends. I would recommend this to anyone who has not seen it, though I suggest you don’t put it on for light watching. Have your wits about you.