In Moscow, Russian government whistleblower Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) is set to go to trial, but the powerful official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov) wants to stop him blabbing all he knows to the world's media, visiting the man in prison to tell him he has bought everyone in the courtroom to ensure nothing gets out - but Komarov reminds the official he has not bought him. Over in the United States, the C.I.A. are aware something major is about to happen, so see to it they have a presence over there to rescue Komarov. This is where New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) enters the story...
No, he isn't a spook now, he's still a cop but wants to visit Moscow to rescue his son Jack (Jai Courtney) who will be in the Moscow courthouse too, and I bet you cannot guess why that would be. Well, you don't have to guess, it's revealed within minutes that Jack is the American agent, so what you really should have had was a buddy movie with the twist being the two buddies are father and son. You did get that to a degree, but for the most part what was on offer was one character whose relentlessly pissy and whiny attitude makes you long for him to get off the screen for a long stretch, and another whose don't give a damn demeanour was all too convincing.
That was mainly thanks to a performance from Willis which gave new meaning to the word noncommittal, you couldn't even call it coasting, his utter lack of engagement with the role which made him a star infected the whole movie, so much so that it spread to the audience as well. A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth in the franchise, arrived in a summer which saw the blockbusters greeted with a shrug, as if the more they went over the top in their scenes of destruction the less the audience were impressed, leaving outings such as this one generally proclaimed to be the worst in the series and breeding a reaction that if the filmmakers were behaving in a perfunctory fashion, they didn't care too much either.
These films were still making money, but it seemed to be people who were attending the movies largely to come out and express their disdain for the material who made up the majority of the punters. This so-called hate watching was growing more prevalent, perhaps mostly in connection to television shows which were so idiotic there was some satisfaction to be gained by criticising them for their stupidity, but by the summer of 2013 had spread to the big screen as well. They had a prime candidate for such viewing in this sequel, which boasted a plot so childishly simple it appeared as if hardly any effort had gone into its creation when every twist, not that there were many, was so predictable that it practically invited boredom, not on the part of the star, either.
And yet you could see they were trying in the action setpieces which were so over the top by this stage that they properly belonged in a science fiction movie, such was the vast amount of carnage McClane and McClane Jr wreaked on Moscow, and eventually Pripyat next to the Chernobyl reactor for the finale. There was a whole week's production line of vehicles destroyed in the truck chase, which must have injured or even killed countless people, but of course we never see them or the aftermath when there was the next helicopter gunship to get to, but the Bruce character at the eye of this storm was even more preposterous. By the end you half expect him to have his limbs blown off, heart ripped out and head crushed only for him to pick himself up for the umpteenth time and dust himself off, then grab the nearest firearm to execute yet more anonymous gunmen. Invincible was a good term for it, but so was uninspired and lacking in any peril or investment. With no Russian to be trusted, this was more listless harking back to Cold War action for Hollywood. Music by Marco Beltrami.