‘Die Hard’ series shows its age by sticking to old tricks in fifth film

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard.’ Rated R, 97 min. Twentieth Century Fox, 2013.

In a modern movie landscape that now includes the smart, stylish likes of the high-tech Bourne and the re-vamped Bond, another old-fashioned adventure with John McClane (Bruce Willis) in “A Good Day to Die Hard” may sound like a nostalgic joyride to ’80s action purists. But the years have not been kind to this thinly-plotted, big-guns-and-big-explosions franchise. The fifth film in the series makes jokes about McClane’s age, and even name-checks President Reagan.

This time out, McClane goes to Russia to aid his son (Jai Courtney), who is entangled in a nuclear weapons scheme involving Chernobyl. The setting is clever, but the forgettable villains and their motives are practically inconsequential to the film’s real focus: blowing stuff up. Of course, that has been the heart of every “Die Hard,” but here even the action seems strained. There is too much jerky, zooming camera work and wild editing in car chases, and too much slow-motion in the heavily computer-generated finale.

Throw in some recycled catch phrases and awkward intergenerational healing, and you have one mixed up, watered down experience that leaves you yearning for something original.

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