A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth entry in Bruce Willis' John McClane franchise, is 90 minutes of wall-to-wall action. To fans of the genre, that might sound like bliss. Yet even with Willis back in the saddle, director John Moore and writer Skip Woods have found a way to suck every ounce of soul out of McClane's everyman escapades. Willis is 57 years old, but Moore's car chases, shootouts, and explosion-dodging sequences are slow and stagnant enough to be fit for a McClane in his 90s. Adding to the misery is a incomprehensible narrative where nothing happens. Even when menacing Russians are prepping nuclear bombs, nothing is happening. It may have been a Good Day to Die Hard, but the latest sequel is the definition of a soft ball.
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This time around, John McClane is on the hunt for his son Jack (Jai Courtney), who is in deep doo doo after connecting himself to the murder of a crony working for corrupt government official Chagarin. Turns out, Jack is actually a CIA agent, with a mission to protect the incarcerated whistleblower Komarov, who currently sits at the top of Chagarin's hit list. Hoping to lift his son out of trouble, McClane shows up at the exact wrong time, witnessing a gang of henchmen blowing up a courthouse to kidnap Komarov and Jack. Everyone escapes and from there on; it's set piece after set piece until McClane shoots his way to the grand finale.
The one thing A Good Day to Die Hard gets right is the casting of Courtney as the son of McClane. He's just gruff enough, just charming enough, and just adept enough at rolling around with a shotgun blowing away enemies. He can spar with Willis, who has really become the quipping, overworked cop he plays in the movies. The two could make a watchable pair, if they were actually given action to perform.
Many complained 2007's Live Free or Die Hard lost the spirit of Die Hard when it opened up the world and turned McClane into a superhero capable of battling a fighter jet. A Good Day to Die Hard has you begging for anything geographically coherent. The film attempts to contain the action once again, but not by finding a single location or pushing its leading man to his limits. Instead, Moore takes his camera straight up the noses of actors, shaky cam and aggressive editing making up for the complete lack of energy or ingenuity in the set pieces.
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A highway truck chase — which comprises nearly a third of the movie's run time — is lifeless and lost in its barrage of crashing cars. Willis feels distant from it all, even when he's in the driver's seat. When McClane's unleashing hell to the faceless baddie — and really, if there's anything a Die Hard movie needs, it's a solid, maniacally laughing villain — he barely moves an inch. Thanks to the magic of cutting, Willis never exerts energy while decimating large crowds of people. Attempts to inject Die Hard with thrills flop — no exploding helicopter barreling down the side of a building, composed with flashy slow-motion and noticeable green screen, can top the sight of Willis going mano a mano with a killer twice his size. A Good Day to Die Hard even teases a good ol' fashioned fight, but never pays it off.
By the eighth time John McClane reminds us that he's on vacation (this movie's version of "I'm too old for this s**t!"), the brain will have bid A Good Day to Die Hard a good day. The film is insipid in the worst way, throwing stunts at the screen when Willis and Courtney seem ripe with action hero potential. Willis has hinted that a sixth Die Hard movie is already in the works — the good news is, the series can only go up from here. Right?
What do you think? Tell Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes!
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Today, we're checking out a show that goes where no show has gone before. It's about New Jersey. And lawyers. It's Made in Jersey. Why aren't there more shows about New Jersey Lawyers.
Program:Made in Jersey
Premiere Date: Friday, September 28, at 9 PM on CBS
Tagline: Martina Garretti works at a Manhattan law firm with a bunch of stuffed shirts and uptight Manhattanites. But she has a secret weapon in winning her cases. New Jersey! She has her Italian family and all her street smarts that you just can't learn at Harvard. That will teach them!
Cast: Janet Montgomery plays our main lady Martina. Former Twin Peaks and Sex and the City star Kyle MacLachlin plays firm founder Donovan Stark. Megalyn Echikunwoke is her coworker Riley and Riv Brody is the firm's investigator Felix, who is like a male Kalinda from The Good Wife. Jessica Blank does her bit for New Jersey as Martina's sister Deb. It's all about work life balance.
Were they Made in Jersey?: Well, Montgomery was made in England, so that's a whole different accent to nail.
Other Shows About New Jersey: Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jerseylicious, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, The Neighbors, Comic Book Men, Cake Boss, Bikini Barbershop.
Other Shows About Lawyers: I don't have time for all this.
Puns to Be Made with the Title: Maid in Jersey about cleaning houses in the Garden State. Made in Jersey, a documentary about dresses made from the fabric. Jersey Maids, a reality show about the girls who milk the cattle.
You Should Watch This If...: You like lawyer shows. You like Jersey shows. You have a tramp stamp. You have nothing to do on a Friday night better than watch a CBS procedural with a lot of accents that isn't Elementary on your DVR.
Where Is the Outrage: Just because the lead on this show went to law school doesn't mean she isn't worse for Italian-Americans from Jersey than Snooki, JWOWW, and The Situation.
Wine and Cheese Pairing: Franzia out of a box and Kraft American Singles.
What to Wear While Watching This: A Snuggie, because if you're at home watching this on a Friday night then you have given up on life, so you might as well be comfortable. And you thought I was going to say animal prints. What about an animal print Snuggie!
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: AP Photo]
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Today's casting roundup reveals that Vegas is getting a scam artist, New Jersey's getting some regular additions, and Jerry from Parks and Recreation might actually get some respect from a mentalist. Read on for all that and more!
Blue Bloods has gone down to the reservoir (dog!) and cast Michael Madsen in an upcoming storyline--playing the bad guy to Donne Wahlberg's good cop. Madsen plays John, a professional criminal that Danny Reagan arrested, subsequently ruining his life. So Madsen's John, who has just been released from prison, has some bones (get it? Bones? Dog? As in, Reservoir Dogs, that movie Madsen was in? We've got jokes!) to pick with Reagan. This comes as an addition to the news that Sebastian Sozzi will recur as Vinny Cruz, the new hot-shot partner of Jamie Reagan (Will Estes), coming in from one of the toughest precincts in the city.
Over in Vegas, Sarah Jones moves from Alcatraz to Sin City as series regular Mia Rizzo. Rizzo is a scam artist, picking off money in the casino's Count Room to funnel cash back to her hometown, Chicago.
LOST's Ken Leung is now a Person of Interest and will kick off his stint on the show during the season premiere next month.
Aww shucks, it's all sorts of motherly love on the set of NCIS: Los Angeles, where the real-life moms of stars Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen will appear in an episode of the show with their kids. How sweet!
Made in Jersey adds two more Jersey girls to its series regular count, with Kristoffer Polaha and Megalyn Echikunwoke joining the cast.
And last but certainly not least, The Mentalist has added two recurring characters in Ivan Sergei as a dreamy-but-tough FBI Agent, and Polly Walker as another tough-but-dreamy FBI Agent (though apparently Walker is more senior). And damn it, Jerry! Jim O’Heir is taking a break from his days in Pawnee at Parks and Recreation to guest star in the season premiere. His character will play someone who is actually useful and not a punching bag for an entire department. Go Jerry!
[Image Credit: Daily Celeb]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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When Lily (Analeigh Tipton) transfers to scenic Seven Oaks three strange but charismatic young women approach her like a girl gang in matching sweater sets. Although Lily doesn't need help with her wardrobe or men Violet (Greta Gerwig) Heather (Carrie MacLemore) and Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) recruit her to live with them hang out with them and join them in their efforts to thwart the school's "atmosphere of male barbarism." It's not actually barbaric; it's a fairly normal upper class liberal arts college but to these girls one of whom has such delicate nostrils that she freaks out at the slightest hint of BO we'd be much better off returning to an classier era. Seven Oaks which used to be a women-only campus is a veiled reference to the Seven Sisters colleges some of which like Vassar have gone coed.
With Violet as a slightly awkward ringleader the trio has very strict ideas of what's proper and what's not what kind of behaviors lead to depression and general uncleanliness and what will most enhance each person's happiness. They set out to do this by avoiding handsome men and going for fixer-uppers and offering depressed students tap dancing classes and fresh-smelling soap. However even though Violet's biggest dream is to kick off "an international dance craze " something she assumes will benefit many people on a wider scale than their college-level suicide interventions they all seem sort of depressed. Is it anthropological curiosity that motivates Lily the loneliness of a new school or as with the audience the sort of weird charm shot through sadness that Violet possesses?
Fans of Whit Stillman's talky thinky upper crust movies are overjoyed that the writer/director has returned after 14 years but what will about newbies? Damsels in Distress is somewhat perplexing; there are a few too many characters and subplots that are introduced and then dropped like the young woman whom the gals take in briefly after a suicide attempt. The film brings up questions about identity the ways we lie to ourselves but leaves them dangling. We're given details about who Violet really is in an insightful and startling subplot that could have given the movie a slightly weightier tone but then it shifts back into Stillman territory. To be fair that's why we're watching in Damsels to begin with; the random excursions into the outside world of actual mental illness heartbreak and financial or personal struggle have no real place in Stillman's lovely bubble. In the end it's not clear if there's some greater thrust to the movie some sort of lesson that the protagonists and viewer should be taking away from it all but if we're allowed to turn off our brains for mindless action fodder and enjoy it why not do the same for hyper-literate modern dandies in a world of dance classes and sunny college campuses?
It's also buoyed by a strong cast led by Greta Gerwig and Analeigh Tipton with enjoyable performances by Echikunwoke and would-be suitor Adam Brody as well as excellent costumes that combine the modern look of liberal arts colleges with the perfectly preppy wardrobe of the three girls and occasional dance numbers. Small touches like Audrey Plaza as a wild-eyed and -haired tap dance student referred to as "Depressed Debbie " Gerwig's stoic face even when referring to her breakdown as being "in a tailspin " and a sight gag here and there serve to remind us that Stillman and his team aren't fumbling in the dark here; they're perfectly aware of how enjoyably goofy Damsels is. It's no accident that their college offers a class called "The Dandy Tradition in Literature" that focuses its studies on Evelyn Waugh and others as obsessed with the leisure class as Stillman.