Before we get to why this is the dumbest of a once stupidly good-fun franchise, a question: What's with the German auto-wars?

It seems this has its own Moscow demolition derby, with various vehicles from the Mercedes Benz range safely delivering our battered heroes to the next hole in the plot, despite grievous panel damage. And if that's not product placement enough, in one scene, a row of black BMWs are blown up, just like that. In another, a shiny black Merc SUV commandeered by Bruce Willis crushes a row of Porsches. Did Audi and Volkswagen pay protection money?

Such is the tedium of the modern movie product placement business. But it's a bit odd to have that Teutonic car clash of the marques considering that Germans - well, ones played by English actors - made for some excellent villains in the first and third Die Hards.

Good, as in memorable, baddies is just one of the things that this fifth Die Hard lacks.


Yes, it has Willis back as John McClane, his scars temporary, his smirk less so. It has, as his estranged CIA agent son Jack, Aussie Jai Courtney, who has gone from spear carrier in the Auckland-made Spartacus to Jack Reacher punching bag to this.

And it's got a ropey plot which pits the American duo against an imprisoned Russian billionaire (Koch), a corrupt Russian politico, and lots of Euro-trash henchmen. And it's certainly got much motorised mayhem on the streets of Moscow (with Budapest playing stunt double).

But what it doesn't have is the fun factor that went with all the previous movies when the flatfoot McClane went toe-to-toe with various Dr Evils. Here, his quips are neither wise nor cracking. The attempt at father-son bonding between the regular hails of bullets is cringe-inducing. The action is confused by director Moore shaking that camera, even when there's nothing remotely exciting going on.

As for the action sequences - well, one or two pay homage to previous Die Hards - but there's plenty of GoldenEye, Terminator 2 and every movie featuring a helicopter gunship you've ever seen.

Which might sound exciting and at least it's short. But no, this takes the Die Hard series - one of the few popcorn action properties with peril and personality in its fireworks - and turns it into something tediously generic that treats franchise fans as stupid.

Though you can't say you weren't warned. Someone actually says to McClane before he departs to track down his boy: "It's Russia, they do things different over there."

Which is perhaps the problem. The resourceful McClane saving hostages in a Los Angeles corporate HQ, or a Washington airport, or Wall St bullion, or major US infrastructure, as he did in previous instalments all made sense, if decreasingly, at the time.

However, this, having turned Moscow into a giant car pile-up with presumably vast civilian casualties, winds up in Chernobyl. Which might be silly but it's oddly appropriate - just the spot for an 80s powerhouse to undergo a meltdown.


Stars: 2/5
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch
Director: John Moore
Rating: M (violence and offensive language)
Running time: 98 mins
Verdict: Not even for diehards