The gist of "A Good Day to Die Hard" can best be summarized onomatopoeia fashion. "Eeee-chhhPOOOO," cars colliding at top speeds. "Thuh-FOOM," something exploding in just about every scene. "Blaat-blaat-blaat-blaat-blaat-blaat," a helicopter's side guns. "KchtTCHHHHE," windows shattering. It may not be much of a movie, all told — the plot is so patchy you can hear the wind whistle through it, and the dialogue is so heavy-handed it can't touch its own nose — but my, does this movie love to break a vehicle. It will become a swift favorite for anyone who hates cars and loves to see them crushed, shot, blown up, ejected from overpasses and pulverized. There must be a name for such a disorder, borrowing mostly Greek suffixes and prefixes. Whatever it might be, those heretofore marginalized individuals now have their "Citizen Kane." If this fourth "Die Hard" sequel were any higher on its own smashy fumes, it would be an actual monster truck. As it stands, it is merely a 97-minute impersonation of same.
Now, so long as the disclaimer is out of the way, and everyone is clear that this is, on balance, the weakest of the "Die Hard" films, there is some genuine fun to be had. Director John Moore (five feature film credits, none rated better than 50 percent on Metacritic) sure knows his way around a detonation. Bruce Willis as John McClane is still Bruce Willis as John McClane. This time he's going to Moscow to try and help his son, the strapping Jai Courtney, who has been picked up for murder and roped into a trial against a Russian politician with a dark past. We learn in quick order that the younger McClane is a CIA operative charged with protecting a grizzled Russian (Sebastian Koch) with serious dirt on the politician; somewhere this guy has a file that defines the very notion of a MacGuffin but which, when explained, does seem to justify the CIA's involvement. Loose nukes! Just imagine of all the "Die Hard" sequels that could result if they hit the black market.
Anyway, the older McClane shows up to help the younger McClane and all hell breaks loose. They don't get along very well and apparently haven't been on speaking terms much, which makes sense, given that when they do speak almost nothing of any value or originality is exchanged. Dad didn't have time for Junior, we get it. Now they have to shoot their way out of the grudge, fine. The disappointment is in branding this big-budget schlockapalooza a "Die Hard" movie. Used to be that these movies carried a bit more imagination, a panache that separated McClane from the other shoot-'em-up lunkheads of the '80s and '90s. But there's almost none of that here. Notwithstanding a couple of clever nods to the original "Die Hard" (a twist on the glass-shooting scene, a rooftop shot that will look familiar) this could've been cast with almost anyone and titled almost anything. The European espionage suggests "Bourne," while the brassy score winks at "Bond." Then the wanton big-bore machine-gunning and resigned show of overwhelming force announces that, far from the legacies of those franchises or its own, "A Good Day to Die Hard" yokes its entire storyline to stunts and special effects. From that echoes a thrilling "thud," but it's a "thud" all the same.