A Good Day to Die Hard: Extended Cut [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (8th October 2013).
The Film

The original "Die Hard" (1988) was a perfect action thriller, it had well rounded characters, an interesting villain, some tense high wire action all framed within a terrific, tight and well written story. The second and third films, while not as brilliant had their moments. Then, in 2007 a little part of me died, what was once one of the best action series' of all time had delivered a 4th instalment and it was terrible. "Live Free or Die Hard" had some fairly decent hype surrounding it (despite the stupid title), audiences where eager to see the return of John McClane in an action extravaganza for the first time in 12 years. The trailer delivered appropriate goosebumps, Bruce Willis was back to his usual wise-cracking reluctant hero type that made him a superstar, and the film was being helmed by a fresh new director with a younger and much more fast-paced style. But then the movie opened, and it was a massive disappointment... it had "Die Hard" in the title, it featured the character John McClane... but it wasn't a Die Hard film, it was something else, it's as if the filmmakers took everything that made the character so great, jotted it all down, and wrote a script with the exact opposite of what was on that list and then watered it down to a "PG-13" rating (At lest "A Good Day to Die Hard" returned the franchise to its "R" rated roots). 1st of July 2007... the day that a little part of me died.

What makes John McClane such a great character? He is the reluctant hero, he's smart and also resourceful, had a sharp wit and most of all is a blue collar working Joe, someone that almost everyone can relate to. This is key to the franchise and in "Live Free or Die Hard" the character was no longer these things, he suddenly changed into an indestructible super human, the dangerous situations he's put into may seem over-the-top at times but are somewhat believable are now replaced with action scenes that are just totally unbelievable, exhausting to watch and lack any sort of inventiveness. Furthermore, John breezed through the danger without any real challenge. You're probably wondering why I'm spending so much time talking about "Live Free of Die Hard" rather than this latest instalment "A Good Day to Die Hard"? The answer is simple - I really need you to know just how much "Live Free..." sucks in order to fully begin to digest "A Good Day..."

The film starts off with John McClane (Bruce Willis) taking a trip to Moscow to track down his son Jack McClane (Jai Courtney), whose found himself in a little bit of trouble. Turns out Jack is involved in some shady dealings and the McClane's find themselves involved in an international incident with twists and turns that virtually anyone can telegraph. That's it, simple set up to what would end up being a non-stop action thumping.

"A Good Day to Die Hard" was slammed by critics and fans (so bad it scored an abysmal 14% on Rottentomaoes, if that means anything? The previous film scored 81% which is crazy in my opinion as it should have been much lower), and by "slammed" I mean mauled, repeatedly punched, dowsed in gas, set on fire, then buried in a shallow grave. It's not as if fans were assured in anyway that the fifth film in the series would be any good. Let's look at the facts why:

1) The film's director is John Moore (Who hasn't made a single decent film).
2) Like the previous instalment it features a McClane sibling, this time his son (never a good thing).
3) No one cares about Die Hard anymore (This one makes me particularly sad).

Three strikes. However, after viewing the film twice, I can safely say that the critical slamming wasn't entirely deserved. Let's get one thing straight - the film was not good, especially by "Die Hard" standards, but it certainly wasn't an all out and total failure either. The major problems are still prevalent, John McClane is no longer the same character we've all grown and loved over the years, he's much more meat-headed. The script was lacking any ingenuity, wit, charisma, or sharp dialogue - basically all the things that make a "Die Hard" movie great. Worst of all the chemistry between Willis and Jai Courtney was awkward and didn't really fire.

What director John Moore does well, is action. The action is, as expected, over-the-top. In most cases it's beyond "suspension of disbelief" territory, and John McClane is crashed into, blown up, thrown out of windows and down right beaten up. He's found himself in these situations reluctantly and inevitably has to fight his way out, this time with his annoying son in tow. Some set pieces were thrilling to watch, the Moscow car chase sequence in particular. The effects looked good, and the film's score by Marco Beltrami hits all the right notes, But good action, effects and music doesn't a great film make... the story and characters need to be well developed and sadly "A Good Day to Die Hard" was missing those key ingredients, at best it's a rainy day rental, or to have something on in the background while you're working, or cooking... or whatever... It astonishes me that that while the film was a relative flop domestically, the film managed to pull in $304 million worldwide box office, so we'll probably get a sixth instalment to round out the franchise, let's all just hope for much better.

The Blu-ray release includes two edits of the film, the original "R" rated theatrical version and an extended cut, for differences between the two cut see here.

Video

Frames at a much more open 1.85:1 ratio in high definition 1080p 24/fps and mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression. It's strange to see a "Die Hard" movie in this ratio since every other instalment was framed at 2.35:1 or 2.40:1, it's also an image that much more saturated with color, it's grittier and feels like you're looking though the eyes of someone tweaking on crack (I assume). It's a unique visual look that I'm not entirely convinced works here. Kudos to the filmmakers for trying something new with the visual aesthetic but it further proves the point that this is about as far removed from a "Die Hard" movie we're used to as possible. Despite this, the technical qualities of the image are terrific. The HD image is crisp and beautiful, clean from any dirt, the image is sharp and nicely detailed, grainy when it needs to be and handles the black levels extremely well. I couldn't spot any compression related issues, overall it's a spot on transfer.

Audio

Three audio options are available in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English DTS-HD audio and this 7/1 track is one of the most active and bombastic audio tracks you'll hear on the Blu-ray format. "A Good Day to Die Hard" is a straight up action extravaganza and the audio doesn't disappoint, it's active, complex, features incredible depth and clarity , furthermore the action scenes virtually explode off the screen. Surround channels are almost constantly active, immersing the viewer instantly. Bullets fly, cars crash, helicopters blow up, windows smash, punches land with ferocity. Adding further value to this track is the excellent score, which unitizes the sound space well. Overall this can easily be considered a reference quality audio track. Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

Fox has packed this film with some fairly decent extras, probably more than the film deserves. Included here is an audio commentary, a collection of deleted scenes, a 15-part documentary, four featurettes, a series of pre-viz and VFX breakdowns, storyboards, art gallery and theatrical trailers. Also included is a DVD with a standard definition version of the film. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director John Moore and first assistant director Mark Cotone available only on the "extended" cut version of the film. The participants discuss taking over an established and well regarded action franchise and the responsibilities that entails. The challenges of the production, choreographing the action and creating a visual style for the film among other things. It's an OK enough track, nothing groundbreaking.

A collection of seven deleted scenes (1080p) are included, which can be viewed individually or with a "play all" option, the scenes presented include some plot-related scenes that were cut in favor of action and moving the story along, and pother scenes that just needed to go altogether as they didn't add anything to the final edit. Some of these scenes could have worked in the final edit, but there's nothing too notable here. The scene include:

"Jack scopes out courthouse" which runs for 1 minute 8 seconds.
"Collins gets approval to move" which runs for 2 minutes 6 seconds.
"John McClane original introduction" which runs for 1 minute 21 seconds.
"Russian girls on plane" runs for 59 seconds.
"Safe house intrusion" runs for 1 minute 57 seconds.
"Gun store" runs for 3 minutes 41 seconds.
"Fight with Anton" runs for 3 minutes 26 seconds.

Following that is an extensive "Making It Hard to Die" (1080p) a 15-part documentary that explores the making of the film covering different aspects of the production. This feature can be viewed as individual segments, or with a "play all" option. I truly miss features like this, too often we get EPK fluff, Fox have gone all out in delivering a quality supplement that delves deep into the production process, looking behind-the-scenes as we get a peek at the stunts, shooting process on location, and post-production process among other things. Whether you like the film or not, this feature is excellent and worth checking out. The segments include:

"Introduction" which runs for 3 minutes 21 seconds.
"Stunts" which runs for 5 minutes 3 seconds.
"Helicopters and aerial" which runs for 6 minutes 45 seconds.
"Special effects" which runs for 8 minutes 6 seconds.
"Motion base" which runs for 2 minutes 19 seconds.
"Armoury" which runs for 3 minutes 32 seconds.
"Russia and Budapest" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
"The look of the movie" which runs for 1 minutes 46 seconds.
"Chernobyl" which runs for 3 minutes 34 seconds.
"Camera work" which runs for 3 minutes 24 seconds.
"Editorial Los Angeles" which runs for 3 minutes 21 seconds.
"Color grading" which runs for 2 minutes 13 seconds.
"Visual effects" which runs for 8 minutes 3 seconds.
"Film scoring" which runs for 2 minutes 41 seconds.
"Wrap up" which runs for 4 minutes 22 seconds.

"Anatomy of a Car Chase" (1080p) featurette runs for 26 minutes 12 seconds, takes a much closer look at the Moscow car chase sequence, how the chase was planned, coordinated and shot. From conception to completion.

"Two of a Kind" (1080p) featurette runs for 8 minutes, takes a moment to examine the father/son relationship in the film and features interviews with the two stars.

"Back in Action" (1080p) is the next featurette which runs for 7 minutes 6 seconds, Willis discusses the iconic role and revisiting the character for this new film.

"The New Face of Evil" (1080p) is the final featurette running 6 minutes 57 seconds. This feature includes interviews with the actors that portray the villains of this new film.

"Pre-vis" (1080p) sequences, features the rough CG plotting of three action scenes from the film, they can be viewed individually or with a "play all" option, the scenes included are:

"Cold opening" which runs for 3 minutes 45 seconds.
"Desert heist" which runs for 2 minutes 34 seconds.
"Truck chase" which runs for 5 minutes 30 seconds.

"VFX" (1080p) sequences are sixteen breakdowns of effects heavy sequences from the film, they can also be viewed individually or with a "play all" option, the scenes included are:

"Helicopter shoots up Hotel Ukrania" which runs for 26 seconds.
"Helicopter shoots up Hotel Ukrania 2" which runs for 28 seconds.
"John and Jack jump through window" which runs for 1 minutes 11 seconds.
"Helicopter shoots barrels" which runs for 35 seconds.
"John and Jack fall" which runs for 32 seconds.
"John climbs into helicopter" which runs for 30 seconds.
"John drives truck out of helicopter" which runs for 22 seconds.
"Helicopter being pulled down" which runs for 21 seconds.
"View from helicopter" which runs for 17 seconds.
"Helicopter swings towards building" which runs for 21 seconds.
"Truck crashes into building" which runs for 22 seconds.
"Truck crashes into building (zoom)" which runs for 23 seconds.
"John hanging from truck" which runs for 18 seconds.
"Truck falls" which runs for 23 seconds.
"Helicopter approaches rooftop" which runs for 23 seconds.
"Explosions at Chernobyl" which runs for 20 seconds.

Storyboards (1080p) with "Auto Advance" and "Manual Advance" options, allows you to check out the storyboard sequences for five scenes:

"Cold opening" (26 images).
"Court house" (7 images).
"Car chase"
View all (32 images).
"Flatbet" (6 images).
"Falling tower crane" (14 images).
"Lucky escape" (11 images).
"RPG" (4 images).
"Ukrania fight" (20 images).
"Chernobyl" (4 images).

Concept art gallery (1080p) with "Auto Advance" and "Manual Advance" options, you can cycle through the art created for the production design of the film:

"Court house" (8 images).
"Car chase" (31 images).
"Safe house" (10 images).
"Ukrania fight" (16 images).
"Chernobyl" (58 images).
"Miscellaneous" (10 images).

There are two theatrical trailers (1080p) included:

"Theatrical trailer" 1 which runs for 1 minute 4 seconds.
"Theatrical trailer" 2 which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds.

DISC TWO: DVD

This is a DVD version of the film, also included is a code for a digital copy version as well for portable media devices.

Packaging

Packaged in a 2-disc Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The film was mediocre, forgetting what truly makes Die Hard great, on the other hand the disc's A/V is great and features some excellent features.

The Film: C- Video: A- Audio: A+ Extras: B+ Overall: B-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.