It’s been 25 years since the inaugural film of the Die Hard franchise was released in theatres to mass audience appeal. Now in its fifth installment John McClane is ceremoniously passing off the torch to his son Jack (Jai Courtney).
The two have been at odds throughout most of their lives as John has spent too much time focusing on his job instead of on his family. Even though his job usually involves taking out the bad guys and saving countless lives, that’s hard for a kid to understand. All he knows is that his father was not around while he was growing up and because of that they have little contact with one another.
So it comes as a major surprise when John finds out that his son is in a Russian prison. Even though they have their problems, John immediately hops a plane to be by his side in the courtroom. But things aren’t as they seem and when John stumbles into the middle of a jail break with Jack abducting a fellow prisoner, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), he finds that he’s really interrupted a secret CIA operation that his son is involved in.
From that point on, it’s action to the extreme as the they find themselves being chased by powerful agents in the Russian government who don’t want Yuri to hand over incriminating files about what truly happened in the Chernobyl plant meltdown to the CIA.
As the three try to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, they find themselves in car chases, shootouts, and leaping from tall buildings, all culminating in the grand finale at the infamous nuclear power plant.
The film is presented in Widescreen format with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio soundtrack. The surround sound is spectacular with explosions and gun fire coming from all corners of the room, loud enough to wake your neighbors if you’re not careful. The visual aspect is almost as good with its crisp high definition, but it tended to be just a tad on the dark side, which may have been more of a director’s choice than an actual issue with the recording.
The Combo Pack comes with a Blu-ray that includes an Extended Cut, which was watched for this review; DVD, and a digital download. There is a plethora of special features, over two hours worth, including a Director's commentary, deleted scenes, storyboards, photo gallery and more. Not surprisingly, the best feature is Maximum McClane, which is packed full of all the best scenes, catch phrases, and explosions that Bruce Willis has done over the entire life of series.
The story at its simplest is about father and son coming to terms with one another as they kill and destroy anyone and everything in sight, just as expected from a Die Hard film. While there is plenty of action and the occasional quip, it would have been nice to have seen more of a storyline and character development. It’s understandable that Jack and John are estranged, but Jack seems overly angry about it.
There are a number of nods to the franchise as there are numerous comments about American cowboys, how it’s no longer the ‘80s, and shooting out the lights and using glass as a weapon. Most of these comments will bring a smile to your face as you are one of the insiders who can pick up on them, but might not be as rewarding to new viewers. Ultimately, it is a good popcorn flick with plenty of action, but for those looking for some substance it falls a little short.