A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth -- and least entertaining -- of the action-heavy Die Hard series. The attempt to tone down the previous entry, Live Free or Die Hard, for a PG-13 rating for has been abandoned this time out. Big, explosive action violence is evident throughout, with characters shot and killed (some with sprays of blood), huge crashes and explosions, and falls from heights, all without consequences. Language is also strong, with more than one use of "f--k," many uses of "s--t," and more. One female character's sex appeal is played up (she's shown in alluring outfits), bad guys are shown smoking briefly, and some brand names are shown and/or mentioned. But ultimately the biggest issue is the vigilante justice dispatched by the heroes; bad guys are killed without remorse or consequence.
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What's the story?
Following a few opening jokes about his old age, John McClane (Bruce Willis) heads to Moscow to try to help out his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who's in trouble with the law. It turns out that Jack is actually a CIA agent who's helping rescue Russian political prisoner Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) and secure a secret file related to Chernobyl. John gets in the way of the plan, and, before long, father, son, and prisoner are on the run from Russian thugs. After a double-cross and a daring escape, the two McClanes decide to infiltrate Chernobyl itself to prevent the bad guys from getting their hands on a load of weapons-grade uranium. Will they save the world before they destroy it?
Is it any good?
It's very likely that this entry will be the death of Die Hard. Twenty-five years after the original film in the series, John McClane now has a grown son who serves as his comic sidekick, like Samuel L. Jackson in the third entry and Justin Long in the fourth. But Courtney was cast for his brawn and not for his banter; the characters' "tough love" talk is actually more cruel than funny. Moreover, director John Moore (The Omen remake, Max Payne, etc.) is a camera shaker who often jolts the action off-kilter.
The script by Skip Woods hits all the right marks, but it also relies on some ludicrous twists and ridiculous plot holes. For example, father and son survive a gas explosion, unscathed, merely by ducking behind some stone pillars. Not to mention that the use of Chernobyl as a setting for a showdown is in questionable taste, and the movie humorously shrugs off the possibility of radiation poisoning for our heroes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A Good Day to Die Hard's over-the-top violence. How does its impact compare to what you might see in a horror movie? Or a more realistic drama?
Why are the main characters allowed to simply kill bad guys, rather than bring them to justice? What differentiates the "good guys" and the "bad guys"?
How did you feel about the "tough love" relationship between the father and son? Why did the father ridicule his son for having feelings and weaknesses?
How does the Die Hard series strike you as a whole? What's John McClane's appeal? Is he a role model?
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