Things always seem a little bit clearer in the cold light of day, but that isn’t the case with this particular action thriller. In fact, I’d go as far as saying I spent most of the film feeling like I was being kept in the dark.
With the fifth chapter of the Die Hard series set to hit the big screen early next year, Bruce Willis lays to rest any doubts he can still shake it down with the bad guys when put to the test – this time as CIA operative Martin Shaw rather than NYC cop John McClane.
Though Willis’ appearance maybe brief, his on screen demeanour carries more punch than Henry Cavill’s wooden attempt at playing his son, Will, who is forced to step into his father’s shoes for the sake of saving his family.
Terrorists have kidnapped Will’s mum, brother and brother’s girlfriend after storming their yacht off the coast of Spain, in the midst of a rare holiday for the Shaws. Confused, distraught, irate and panic-stricken, Will, unwillingly, find himself at the centre of Government conspiracy.
He soon finds out the battle to save his family is just a small part of a much bigger war his dad helped to instigate.
Meanwhile, Shaw senior, who managed to escape the grasp of the enemy, holds all the cards.
He knows more than his family, Will and, painstakingly, the audience.
His untimely exit comes before he gets chance to pass on any of his wisdom, despite a few kind words for his son.
Shaw junior struggles to find answers and, when seeking help from the authorities – and American Embassy – is dismissed without a second thought.
For an Average Joe, Will is a quick learner. He soon grasps he can’t trust them and those in-the-know have led him up the garden path all too often.
Realising neither side’s story checks out, he stumbles across the descendent of one of his dad’s acquaintances in a mad dash search for his family.
His thirst for action then takes over, much like the white-vested hero at the centre of the multi-million dollar Die Hard franchise.
For Will, at least, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
His journey from unsuccessful business entrepreneur to adrenaline junkie comes naturally, almost instantaneously.
His transformation is beyond belief, as he wrestles a Government agent merely a matter of hours after barely managing to hold back the tears when learning his business is to file for bankruptcy.
When we first meet Will, his turbulent and disjointed relationship with his dad is evident. He disapproves of his dad taking him spear fishing at the age of ten, seemingly to instil in him a killer instinct.
But therein lays the film’s ultimate demise. Despite much promise, the sequence of events which made the final cut are largely unexplained.
The story somehow gets lost behind alternative camera angles, needless car chases and Hollywood shoot-offs – which would arguably feel more at home on a Johnny English set rather than one of the Bourne films.
Sigourney Weaver’s inclusion is one of the film’s biggest strengths but you are left wondering why she wasn’t given more of a central part given the importance of her character.
It’s hardly a white-knuckle ride and the special effects did little to keep me on the edge of my seat, with neither a strong storyline nor spectacular stunts, it is no more than a damp squib.
The plot twist towards the end doesn’t deliver and merely acts as an example to reinforce the cliché: one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
By Matt Brooks
Star Rating H