John McClane's visit to Russia marks a bad day for fans of action movies
The original Die Hard is one of the best action movies ever made, something which makes the utterly generic nature of this fourth sequel all the more harder to stomach. A Good Day to Die Hard isn't an absolute clanger – there are a couple of standout action scenes and the script is certainly no more stupid or poorly plotted than your typical Die Hard aspirant. But there's the rub: this isn't some Under Siege-style wannabe, it's a genuine Die Hard sequel and – rightly or wrongly – John McClane's legion of fans expect so much more.
Picture: A Good Day to Die Hard was shot on 35mm film, but it's been put through such heavy colour-grading and digital manipulation in post-production that you'd be hard-pressed to know it.
Framed at 1.85:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p Blu-ray transfer does its best with the film's gritty, teal and orange-tinted visuals, but ultimately it can't find sharpness, clarity and detail where there simply wasn't any in the first place. Annoyingly, there are some close-ups in the film (such as the golden-hued father-son chat in Chapter 17) that show the kind of intricate detailing that the encode is capable of. But it's rarely given the chance to shine in this way.
What you're left with is an image that accurately captures the source material, but is hamstrung by the aesthetic choices the filmmakers made.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: If nothing else, this latest Die Hard film certainly delivers in the audio department.
The Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix starts off a little low-key, but once the bomb explodes outside the courthouse in Chapter 6 it never looks back. The car chase (Chapters 7-9) is a masterpiece of high-intensity full-soundfield sound design, and every single gunshot (of which there are plenty) is accompanied by a thunderous blast of bass and precise spatial positioning. In other words, blockbuster audio at its room-quaking best.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: Being a dreadful movie, it's only natural that A Good Day to Die Hard hits Blu-ray with a fantastic collection of bonus features.
Not only does the disc include the original US theatrical cut (rather than the sanitised version that played at UK cinemas), but it also adds an alternate extended cut. This new 101-minute version crams in a few new character beats and improves the editing in a handful of action scenes, and eliminates the two sequences book-ending the film featuring Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). This last fact is one of the very few elements of the production not touched on in the chatty audio commentary that director John Moore and assistant director Mark Cotone recorded for the extended cut.
Making it Hard to Die is an hour-long, 15-part Making of… doc that covers everything from stunts and special effects to editing and colour grading (where they try to make turning everything teal and orange into an artistic statement). Further behind-the-scenes info can be found in four additional featurettes looking at the cast and the filming of the car chase.
Also on hand are seven deleted scenes, three pre-vis reels (including animatics for an unfilmed alternate opening), 16 visual effects breakdowns, storyboards for five sequences, six concept art galleries and a pair theatrical trailers. Finally, there's a three-minute highlight package of clips from the previous Die Hard films – which only helps demonstrate how far the franchise has fallen.
Extra rating: 4/5
We say: Reference-quality audio or not, this is one action franchise we wish had been left to die (hard)
A Good Day to Die Hard: Harder Extended Cut, 20th Century Fox, Region A/B BD, £25 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 3/5
Want the latest issue of Home Cinema Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!
Want to see your home cinema system featured in the pages of HCC? Click here for more info.
Love home cinema? Sign up to our emails for the latest news and special offers!
Home Cinema Choice is proud to be a member of EISA.
Visit www.eisa.eu for more info.