In the last Die Hard movie, the very good Live Free or Die Hard, kill-'em-all New Jersey cop John McClane surfed an F-15 fighter jet as a highway overpass crumbled down around him. If any scene captured the sheer, dumb brilliance of cinema's best action franchise that was it. In this latest instalment, McClane merely surfs on former glories in a lazy rehash that totally botches Die Hard's fine tradition of the funny and the absurd.
Our grizzled hero fetches up in Moscow to reclaim his errant son Jack (a wooden Jai Courtney) who turns out to be a CIA operative who's gone undercover to prevent the hi-jack of some nukes. Cue Russian mafia types, a politically-ambitious oligarch who makes Putin look like Enda, and an imprisoned activist.
After a frenetic and badly-edited car chase which apparently took 78 days to film, Dundalk-born director John Moore spends the rest of the strangely short running time of 97 minutes trying to crowbar in as many Die Hard clichés as possible.
Plot was never an issue here (bad guys do bad stuff; McClane takes 'em all on and wins) but the hokum about Chernobyl, uranium and WMDs would be sniggered out of the room at a Michael Bay script meeting. So the world faces immient destruction as John `n' Jack race from one unfeasible shoot out to another and their strained father/son relationship goes all Waltons on us.
The lack of a decent bad guy and hackneyed, pre-Glasnost script is another fatal flaw (someone actually says, "You know what I hate most about you Americans? You think you're so damn smart."). Sadly, the usual cocky Willis fails to ignite the dead air around him.
Rushed and poorly-paced, it turns out that cinema's best action franchise dies pretty easily after all.