Searching for his son Jack (Courtney), McClane despairs at finding him not in jail or in a morgue, but worst of all in Russia, under arrest on charges of terrorism. Dad thus braves crossing the Iron Curtain to save his son and reignite the Cold War. (Taking care to not suggest all Russians are categorically evil communists, in an awkwardly long sequence a taxi driver serenades McClane with Frank Sinatra, proving America’s global dominance.) Quickly blowing Jack’s CIA cover, McClane proceeds to blow up much of Moscow, forcing the estranged father and son to team up to stop terrorists from accessing weapons grade plutonium.
Immune to both the nuances of history and nuclear radiation, McClane and Jack plough through abominably shot action sequences that are intercut with even clunkier exposition. Lumbering from an extended car chase, to shootouts, to a final showdown featuring an out-of-control helicopter, like its lead, Die Hard 5 feels weary and no longer willing (or able) to carry the weight of its crashing vehicles and explosions. Gone is the exuberance, replaced by routine.
If this vacuous film has some kernel at its core, it’s the lament of the decline of the McClane type character, pitting the new generation (represented by Courtney) against the old. Looking around at the safe house, our hero disdains the “spy shit” and his son’s CIA mission, sticking around to prove that the brute force of semi-automatic rifles can top any espionage escapades. Still, it's hardly enough to sustain interest in the film as it descends into predictable plot turns and copious lens flares. It might be a good day to die hard, but thankfully tomorrow is another day.