‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ shows the franchise may be terminally ill

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney as father/son badasses about to take on legions of bad guys
Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney as father/son badasses about to take on legions of bad guys

[rating=2]Starring:  Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Sergey Kolesnikov, Cole Hauser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Writer(s): Skip Woods (screenplay), based on characters created by Roderick Thorp
Director(s):  John Moore

There is a difference between acting and performing.  Actors portray a character who is usually somewhat different from themselves.  And hopefully, who is different from the other characters they have portrayed and will portray.

Read more‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ shows the franchise may be terminally ill

The 25th anniversary of the first ‘Die Hard’ film brings us ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

Bruce Willis became an action star with his unforgettable turn as John McClane in 1988's 'Die Hard'
Bruce Willis became an action star with his unforgettable turn as John McClane in 1988’s ‘Die Hard’

In 1988 a movie opened starring Bruce Willis as a hard-nosed New York City police detective going out to California to visit his wife.  She’d taken a job out there.  It was almost Christmas and “John McClane” wanted to see his wife and children.

Read moreThe 25th anniversary of the first ‘Die Hard’ film brings us ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

‘Lay the Favorite’ is the worst bet in the movie house

Rebecca Hall stars opposite Bruce Willis in 'Lay the Favorite'
Rebecca Hall stars opposite Bruce Willis in ‘Lay the Favorite’

[rating=2]Starring:  Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon, Frank Grillo, Joel Murray, John Carroll Lynch, and Corbin Bernsen
Director(s):  Stephen Frears
Writer(s):  D.V. DeVincentis

Lay the Favorite is a gambling term.  It is also the title of a memoir by a real-life woman named Beth Raymer that is now a film from director Stephen Frears and screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis.  If that sounds like a familiar pairing, it should.  They combined to bring Nick Hornsby’s excellent novel “High Fidelity” to the big screen.  That was an excellent collaboration.

Sadly, this was not.

Read more‘Lay the Favorite’ is the worst bet in the movie house

‘Looper’ takes time travel and body disposal for a loop

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Looper'
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in ‘Looper’

A looper is a hired killer. He has been hired by an unseen crime boss 30 years into the future, because when time-travel finally becomes possible, it’s too difficult to easily dispose of a dead body. So this crime boss sent a man named “Abe” (Jeff Daniels) back to the 2040s to hire some assassins. The work is easy, the victim arrives from the future at a specified time, at a specified place. The payment for killing and disposing of the body is several silver bars attached to the body.

Read more‘Looper’ takes time travel and body disposal for a loop

‘The Cold Light of Day’ might have been best left in the dark

Henry Cavill in 'The Cold Light of Day'
Henry Cavill in ‘The Cold Light of Day’

[rating = 2]Starring:  Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Echequi, Emma Hamilton, Caroline Goodall, Rafi Gavron, and Roschdy Zem
Director(s):  Mabrouk El Mechri
Writer(s):  Scott Wiper, John Petro

Making a spy thriller is easy.  Making a good spy thriller is hard.  Making a bad spy thriller with good actors is even more difficult, yet that’s what The Cold Light of Day turns out to be.

Read more‘The Cold Light of Day’ might have been best left in the dark

‘The Expendables 2’ is loud, fun, and a real ‘E’ ticket adventure

'The Expendables 2' (from left to right) Jason Stratham, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger
‘The Expendables 2’ (from left to right) Jason Stratham, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger

The recipe for The Expendables 2 was pretty simple.  Take just about every famous and successful action-adventure star from the 1980s, stir into a simmering story about 5 tons of misplaced weapons grade plutonium and add lots of shooting and action.  Voila!  The nearly perfect popcorn flick for summer of 2012.

Read more‘The Expendables 2’ is loud, fun, and a real ‘E’ ticket adventure

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ marks Wes Anderson’s return to brilliance

Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis in 'Moonrise Kingdom'
Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis in ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

On a small island, in 1965, a young boy who is a member of the Khakhi Scouts of North America, “Sam” (Jared Gilman) is found missing from his tent during breakfast.  He has cut a neat hole in the side of his tent that he covered with a piece of paper, and dug a tunnel to escape from the confines of the Khakhi Scout’s Fort Lebannon.  A search is quickly organized by “Scout Master Ward” (Edward Norton), who immediately contacts the island’s head cop “Capt Sharp” (Bruce Willis).

Read more‘Moonrise Kingdom’ marks Wes Anderson’s return to brilliance

‘Hostage’ has a great first half, but fumbles to the finish

[rating=3]Starring: Bruce Willis, Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker
Director(s): Florent Siri
Writer(s): Screenplay by Doug Richardson; Based upon the novel by Robert Crais

Bruce Willis fights to save his family in 'Hostage'
Bruce Willis fights to save his family in ‘Hostage’

This movie was always kind of mixed up in my head. Every time I saw the title, Hostage, I kept thinking of this book I read a while back that said on the cover it was going to be made into a film. But I checked it, and it’s actually called, Standoff. The two are similar in that they are both about burned-out hostage negotiators, but where Standoff was a straight thriller about a Ruby Ridge-like incident, Hostage is far more elaborate and Hollywood.

Read more‘Hostage’ has a great first half, but fumbles to the finish