A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)


John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working undercover, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces. (IMDb)
Sorry Skip, your repeated “I’m on vacation” one-liner doesn’t cut it; John wasn’t on vacation and if he really was such a reluctant hero he wouldn’t have driven off bridges and over cars when he still had no idea what was going on. A protagonist has never been more annoying (the eye-rolling father-son dynamics don’t help), nor a plot more generic and lazily written (hello cliche Russian villains–the carrot chewing scene is unbearable). The helicopter crash at the end looked pretty cool though.
5/10 (Poor)

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)


John McClane and a young hacker join forces to take down master cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel in Washington D.C.  (IMDb)
Willis’ gruff cop and Long’s sheltered geek make a fun odd couple, but the former’s “old-school” attitude gets annoying quick, especially when the tech-ignorance gives way to blatant racism (“Kung-Fu shit” and “Asian hooker bitch”? Really?). Elsewhere, the writing is ridiculous (the bad guys can literally hack anything in seconds) and full of plot holes and the action sequences often match it (see helicopter vs. car; car in the elevator; semi vs. fighter jet). Mostly fun, but really dumb.
6/10 (Mediocre)

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)


John McClane and a Harlem store owner are targeted by German terrorist Simon Gruber in New York City, where he plans to rob the Federal Reserve Building. (IMDb)
Darker than ever, thanks to some super high stakes (see the school bomb) and what feels like the biggest and bloodiest bad guy body count yet. The former offers some great moments of drama (see the “fire drill” at the school) but the latter makes it a little harder to swallow the triumphant “let him burn” and “yippie-kai-yay” at the end. For the most part though, Willis’ dry wit (“attention! Nils is dead!”) and action heroics continue to entertain, and Jackson proves to be an enjoyable sidekick.
7/10 (Good)

Die Hard 2 (1990)


John McClane attempts to avert disaster as rogue military operatives seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. (IMDb)
A solid sequel, even if it tries a bit too hard to be self-aware (both John and Holly comment on how the same thing is happening to them again) and then rehashes the famous yippie-kai-yay line. There’s still great action (the final airplane sequence is a standout) with high stakes (see the unexpected mid-movie crash) and Willis still has the same swag and dry humour (his ongoing feud with the cops entertains). The villain isn’t quite as good but the empty shells SWAT twist almost made up for it.
7/10 (Good)

Die Hard (1988)


John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. (IMDb)
A steadily building plot (police and FBI involvement flesh out the initial lone man vs. terrorist drama) with interesting turns (John’s ironic confrontation with Hans is a memorable one) and great characters (Al the cop adds a down-to-earth amiability to the bloody proceedings), along with Willis’ entertaining banter (“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker”) and macho heroics throughout separate this from your standard shoot-em-up action flick and keep you engaged throughout its lengthy run-time.
8/10 (Great)