Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hot Damme! A Good Day to Die Hard

Say what you will about A Good Day to Die Hard but it's a perfectly functional action movie.  People complain that Bruce Willis' John McClane has lost his "human" side but give me a break, the dude was cracking wise and wasting terrorists in 1987's initial installment then fought bad guys across airports, on snow mobiles and on the wing of a moving airplane before blowing it up in Die Harder before surviving subway car crashes, racing through Central Park, falling from a bridge onto a moving freighter in With a Vengeance so please, let's just admit that the guy is a larger than life action hero the same as Stallone or Schwarzenegger only not as buff.  Sure there are dramatic, emotional, regular guy flourishes in Die Hard but they're also in First Blood with John Rambo.  However the sequels and imitations make people forget that there's actually only 4 deaths in Rambo's first adventure.

A Good Day lacks the complexity present in the first 4 Die Hard movies and gives us a boom boom boom, 97 minute action flick.  In the first third, we get a huge chase sequence involving cars, vans, trucks, big rigs and lots and lots of carnage.  Many of the gags were performed practically so you get dozens upon dozens of real vehicles being crashed and smashed seemingly on the streets of Moscow.  It's quite impressive and a little jaw dropping due to it's scope and utter disregard for public property and civilian safety as McClane drives his commandeered Mercedes SUV off a bridge, onto semi trailers and car carriers before crashing down on cars in traffic, shattering windshields and crushing hoods.  He even says "sorry, ma'am!" to a screaming woman underneath his tires.

Fox Lot mural honors DH franchise
It's said the sequence totaled 132 cars, including Lamborghini's and Mercedes Benz's at a cost of $11 million.  Director John Moore, Second Unit Director Jonathan Taylor and company planned the chase for 8 months and the resulting sub-10 minute sequence is one of the most epic motor melees in recent times.  A deft blend of location shooting and green screen, DH5 holds the record for the biggest green screen, measuring out at 1000' x 40', utilized over a highway set built in Budapest.  There's crashing, flipping, sliding, launching and a world record for tonnage flipped when a truck carrying a concrete pipe is thrown into the air and rolled to it's side. While it might not deliver the same genre defining, cinematic impact as its predecessor, A Good Day to Die Hard will forever contain one exciting and harrowing sequence that puts the viewer in the middle of the mayhem.

A little taste of the destruction:

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