Time to hang it up, guys: The ’80s Action All-Stars Revue of 2013 that began with Schwarzenegger (The Last Stand) and continued with Stallone (Bullet to the Head) now concludes with the worst of a meager bunch. Bruce Willis returns to his seminal role as New York flatfoot under siege John McClane. The locale is Moscow; the mission, at first, is for Papa John to reconnect with estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney), who’s gotten mixed up in some shady underworld doings. But it turns out McClane Jr. is actually a CIA operative who’s tasked with getting Anonymous Hirsute Baddie (Sebastian Koch) to a secret underground vault in Chernobyl, and now Daddy’s along for the ride.
And we’re a long way from this shoot-’em-up franchise’s John McTiernan–helmed heyday. Willis gives one of his laziest-ever performances, leadenly tossing off each quip (“I’m on vacation!” is the most abused) and acting like he’s passing a kidney stone during the bathetic father-son bonding scenes. He’s ill-matched with both Courtney (little more than a lumbering set of muscles) and Koch—entirely lacking the oily charisma of the series’s best villain, Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber, whom the film shamelessly references via one head-slapping visual reprise. And speaking of images, director John Moore (Max Payne) stages the copious action sequences with an inelegance and ineptitude that is truly staggering, all eardrum-shattering sound effects and headache-inducing zooms that would give the Duplass brothers pause. Yippie-ki oy, vey!
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