Action movies are meant to be an escape from the rigors of everyday life. They are meant as a chance for audiences to turn off their brains if only for a couple of hours and be taken into the world of the fantastic. Keeping this in mind, one has to wonder if the masses of audiences and critics who panned the latest installment in the Die Hard franchise went in with an open mind or with an agenda and a preconceived notion set in their minds. While it can be agreed that A Good Day to Die Hard–or as it will henceforth be known, Die Hard 5 or DH5–is not the best of the Die Hard franchise, it also is not the series’ worst. None of the series’ movies is really the worst per se. Die Hard 4 was a movie ahead of its time. It came out at a time when cyber terrorism wasn’t necessarily a worldwide problem yet. So considering this, had Die Hard 4 and 5 switched places, audiences might have been more receptive to both movies, even with the character of Jack McClane (Jai Courtney) still being an issue.
If one goes into Die Hard 5 with an open mind and the ability to suspend one’s disbelief, then one will see just how much it got right. That’s not to say that it was perfect. Again, there was the lingering issue of explaining away Jack. But the script’s writers, Skip Woods and Roderick Thorp do make a valiant attempt to explain away that plot hole. Anyone who has watched the bonus features in the recently released 25th anniversary Blu-ray set will recall that the previous Die Hard movies were each penned from completely separate literary sources. More than likely this movie was, too. So taking that into account, the issue of Jack’s noted absence throughout the previous films can be forgiven. Now, having gotten past that issue, the only real issue that perhaps got in the way of Die hard 5′s success was its rapid fire pace (no pun intended). The story starts rather abruptly, and never really slows down. The constant action and the twists and turns peppered throughout the story might have been enough to leave some viewers dizzied and confused. That in turn might have been enough to justifiably leave some audiences turned off. While it is justified, it is the only factor that can be said to be a justified negative to Die Hard 5.
Having gotten the only justified negative out of the way from this movie, one will see just how much writers Skip Wood and Roderick Thorp got right. As fast paced and dizzying as the story is, those who go into the movie with an open mind and a desire to escape will appreciate the twists and turns peppered throughout its near two hour run time. There are just enough twists and turns to keep audiences think they know what’s going to happen, only to go in the exact opposite direction. And while many prematurely called the very premise of John McClane going to Russia unbelievable, let alone him facing a terrorist from the Cold War era USSR. But again Wood and Thorp did quite the job explaining this away. Again, a big part of being able to believe this goes back to having seen Die Hard 4. Had Die Hard 4 and 5 switched places, this plot element might have been easier for audiences to accept. As soon as audiences understand and accept all of what has been noted, it makes enjoyment of the movie–explosions and all–that much easier. In turn, it makes the movie as a whole that much greater of an escape.
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