The Worst Film of the Decade

With the 2010s having drawn to a close, One Large Popcorn, Please! has been honouring the greatest films and actors of the past ten years. But in this post, Tom will be acknowledging the worst movie from this period.

This author receives many compliments about his reviews and writing style from friends, family and colleagues alike, with most praise directed towards his eloquent prose or taste in films. Criticism of his work is few and far between, though he is occasionally admonished for his generosity in scoring and partiality to critiquing films positively.

There are several reasons why negative reviews are seldom found on this blog, but the chief reason is that yours truly would rather view a decent movie and enjoy himself than waste his time and money watching a bad one; if there is a bad review written, it will be because he naively anticipated the film would be good – Cats being a rare exception in this regard.

Such was the case on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon in April of 2013 when this author joined a group of friends to see A Good Day to Die Hard at his local cinemas. The fifth instalment of the venerable – and once-prestigious – action franchise was one of the first pictures this author reviewed professionally, and to this day remains the most infuriating experience he has ever had to endure.

The story, from memory, sees New York City police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) travel to Moscow after learning of the incarceration of his son Jack (Jai Courtney). Once there, he does some detective work (or something vaguely similar) and by pure coincidence happens to come across Jack driving a van. It then takes a preposterous chase scene, forced dialogue and near-death experiences for Jack to reveal that he is not a wanted criminal, as the Russians proclaim, but a sleeper agent for the CIA.

To reiterate, this summary has all been written from memory, so the synopsis above may not be entirely accurate. This is because the thought of having to watch the fifth Die Hard movie again, or even research the film online, is just too painful to endure. Much of this pain stems from this author’s love of the original Die Hard, which is his favourite action movie of all-time on account of its magnetic protagonist, menacing antagonist, thrilling fight sequences, perfect cinematography, convincing practical effects and gripping screenplay – in short, it has a level of professionalism that even today is rarely found in blockbusters.

No such thought or care applied to A Good Day to Die Hard, which tarnishes its namesake in every respect. The action sequences are underwhelming, the humour is atrociously unfunny, the continuity is lacking, the photography poor, the effects poorer still and there is only the faintest hint of a plot to hold it all together. Quite fittingly, the ending takes place in the abandoned, radiation-infested town of Pripyat, Ukraine, a metaphor so perfect one would swear it was intentional. But that would be giving the “film” credit it most certainly does not deserve.

Good Day to Die Hard

Just look at the image above – witness Bruce Willis’ lack of emotion as he acknowledges the camera; see Jai Courtney’s blank stare longing for direction; gander at Sebastian Koch’s miserable expression as he silently wishes to be part of any project but this one. There is no photo that can better encapsulate the lack of investment by all three performers, a feeling that is mutual among critics – Die Hard 5 holds a dismal approval rating of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 28% on MetaCritic, numbers which are far too generous.

In his original review of A Good Day to Die Hard, this author described it as the sort of film that leaves the viewer angry as they watch it, angry as they exit a screening at the theatre, angry as they eat their dinner, angry after they’ve written a scathing critique of it and angry long after said critique has been sent away for publication. Today, he would be willing to go even further and call it the sort of film that leaves a perfectly sane and rational man in fits of rage several years after first witnessing it.

This aggression would be unwarranted, were it not for the picture’s association with a much-adored series. By attaching the Die Hard moniker to this project, and casting a quintessential action hero as its lead, audiences rightly expect a product with some level of quality; instead, viewers are met with a subpar release possessing Tommy Wiseau-levels of competence that swiftly and decisively tarnishes the legacy of all involved. Under any other name this would be a forgettable B-movie; because it’s the fourth Die Hard sequel, it instead earns the distinction of being a phenomenal failure

If ever there was an argument to be made for the reintroduction of capital punishment, A Good Day to Die Hard would present a very strong case in its favour. The movie is an insult to a franchise, a genre, consumers and to cinema itself that no amount of vocal profanities can ever overcome. There are no redeeming features or qualities present, and for that reason it is undoubtedly the worst film to emerge from the 2010s.

Please let me never speak of it again.


This “film” was originally reviewed for YO Bendigo.

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