At The Movies - A Good Day To Die Hard

Latest installment is a big-budget disappointment

At the Movies

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A couple of years ago someone wanted to know who would step into the shoes of action hero actors Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger now that they are getting to a certain age. The answer for a while was Sly, Bruce and Arnold.  After Sly and Arnold have starred in major bombs already this year, it is up to Bruce Willis and “A Good Day to Die Hard” to save the day. The film may not be up to the task. The charm of the “Die Hard” franchise is the personality of John McClane, the tough, wisecracking character that Willis plays. In this last episode of the franchise we get a lot less of our hero and a lot more fantastic destruction, lavishly applied.

The screen time that Willis gets is well used.  He unites with his son in Moscow. The estranged father and son have a chance to work through their issues while fighting bad guys and blowing stuff up. The father-son slant gives Willis a small chance to actually act in between the action shots. His son is played by 27-year-old Australian actor Jai Courtney. Courtney may be able to act but in this one he is only asked to be buff and move around while shooting, which is plenty for some of us. But this version of “Die Hard” is not nearly as interesting a movie as the first one. It is loud, however, and has the virtue of having the largest helicopter in the world wrecked for you entertainment. 

To save money there isn’t a girl in the movie at all or much of a script. My movie buddy said “This plot has more holes than my garden fence.” Skip Woods, who also scripted the entertaining “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the very engaging “Swordfish” gives us a script that serves mostly as a way to paste together elaborate action sequences. That’s fine as far as it goes, but I think it is a disservice to the franchise. We expect more story in a “Die Hard” film. We don’t expect a more expensive, more polished version of such films as “The Expendables II,” but that is exactly what we got. The producers (including Willis himself) spent $92 million to make this action-packed ‘splosion fest’ and will sweat to get their money back.  It brought in only $26 million in the three-day opening weekend. We will see if it has legs. Films like this often make up the domestic shortages in places like Bombay where audiences do not appreciate fine shades of texture.   

Director John Moore also oversaw “Max Payne,” a less-than-stellar hit at the box office.  This one-hour, 37-minute, R-rated action mega-movie might very well finish off the “Die Hard” line and Willis’ long career as an action hero with it. A subpar two-and-a-half saw blades for this big-budget disappointment.

Safe Haven

Familiar, predictable formula film still offers enjoyment

Katie Schouten

Teen reviewer

Once again, another of Nicholas Sparks’ books has been made into a movie.

The plot is very similar to many of his other stories; boy meets girl, they fall in love, there are some complications, but in the end they live happily ever after. Seems monotonous, right? And yet, people still love these stories.

So what is it about this plotline that people can’t get enough of? It’s like all those countless sports movies, where it seems like winning is impossible, but then it always happens. Maybe people really do like the same story, over and over again, but with a new setting and slightly different situations. If you find yourself a fan of that, you should feel lucky, because “Safe Haven” is here for you.

This time, our hero and heroine are named Alex (Josh Duhamel), who is a widower with two kids, and Katie (Julianne Hough), who is running from a dangerous past. Complications? A Boston detective looking for a woman with long brown hair, who is seen at the beginning of the film running away from something (or someone).

The acting was okay, but not great. Hough and Duhamel did not have very good chemistry. You got the impression that it was a bit forced at times. Katie’s friend, Jo (Cobie Smulders), was also a very flat character; not a lot of development took place. The two never really seemed to bond, although they were supposed to be great friends.

Surprisingly enough, I felt that the best actress in the film was Mimi Kirkland, who played Alex’s grade school-aged daughter. Of all the characters, she was the most sincere and the only person that seemed comfortable in their role.

The movie was in a beautiful setting, right by the ocean on the Atlantic Coast. The movie was worth seeing, even just to experience the scenery. It definitely added to the overall feeling of the movie.

I enjoyed “Safe Haven.” True, it’s not the best movie ever made, and it won’t be winning any major awards, but it was cute, and an enjoyable way to spend an evening. There was just some sort of charm that made the movie. Perhaps it was because it was more cute than sappy, as many of Nicholas Sparks’ stories are. But whatever it was, “Safe Haven” became a worthwhile use of two hours on a Friday night.

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