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A Good Day to Die Hard
Safe Haven
1/2 star

TRITE AND TRUE: Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in the locally filmed Nicholas Sparks’ flick, ‘Safe Haven.’ Courtesy photo

TRITE AND TRUE: Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in the locally filmed Nicholas Sparks’ flick, ‘Safe Haven.’ Courtesy photo

I’m not sure who deserves to be told to “go screw themselves” more: Bruce Willis or Nicholas Sparks. After watching “A Good Day to Die Hard” and “Safe Haven,” I find myself with enough justifiable indignation for both. Each film is a stupid, lazy exercise in mediocrity. Both work overtime to strain credibility and pander to their core audience, but each manages to be a complete waste of time and effort.

I find myself more forgiving of “A Good Day to Die Hard.” Truth be told, it’s a generic action movie that is no more or less insulting than most films in the genre. Seeing the words “Die Hard” in the title should be a clear indicator that it’s devoid of an original thought—one I imagine would only appeal to anyone with a Y chromosome.

The disappointment of “Safe Haven” was telegraphed ahead of time. I had zero expectations that this movie was going to be any good. In fact, seeing the words “From Nicholas Sparks” is a red flag if ever there were one. The man has spun gold from shit for a decade and every film with his name attached has been a complete waste of my time. I imagine it only appeals to anyone with two X chromosomes.

Each film may be very different, but the truth is they both suffer from the same malady: They are boring, unoriginal and uninspired.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” brings us the fifth explosion-filled adventure of John McClane (Bruce Willis). The first few “Die Hard” films were all about a regular guy who shows up at the wrong place at the wrong time. The first time he inadvertently stumbles into a hostage situation with some particularly nasty international thieves. The second time he winds up having to face down militant terrorists at an airport. The third time he’s dragged into a deranged plot to blow up New York and rob the gold depository. At some point they abandoned the idea of the journeyman hero barely escaping death over and over again, and replaced him with an indestructible action hero who battles fighter jets with his bare hands and can survive any fall without so much as a scratch.

The fifth “Die Hard” film sees John traveling to Russia to track down his estranged son, who has ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. After being arrested for murder, John’s son escapes with a wanted criminal. John learns his son has been working for the C.I.A., and is involved in a plot involving corrupt Russian officials and (surprise) weapons-grade uranium.

An action film that uses stealing nuclear weapons as a plot point? Impossible!

A Good Day to Die Hard” is a live-action cartoon. John McClane is the Wile E. Coyote of action heroes: car crashes, explosions, being thrown into a building by an out-of-control helicopter. Yet, he walks unscathed. Gone are the days of picking glass out of his feet and limping into battle. This version of what was once an interesting character spends so much time escaping death and cracking wise I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

Though, the award for “most eye rolling” undeniably goes to “Safe Haven.” Holy shit, is this film terrible! The kind of terrible that seems inexcusable in a world where there is already so much suffering. Being a Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation, I assume most already know the plot; two people fall in love in coastal Carolina. They must overcome obstacles in order to find sweaty, lustful happiness in a world that will try to keep them apart.

Pardon me while I void the contents of my stomach.

This particular love fest tells the story of Erin (Julianne Hough), who flees her abusive husband in Boston, for the beach town of Southport, NC. There she meets a widower, Alex (Josh Duhamel), and the two begin a courtship process that will force them to deal with the past. Alex has the baggage of having lost his wife, and Erin has a psychopathic police-officer stalker who seems hell bent on finding her. Both plot points are so poorly developed they almost feel insulting.

First off, let me thank the producers of “Safe Haven” for bringing work to our town. I felt obliged to see the movie since it was shot in our neck of the woods. My mistake.

Hough is the very definition of “serviceable.” She’s easy on the eyes and hard on the ears. Josh Duhamel is best known for the “Transformers” movies, where he was often out acted by computer-animated robots that could turn into cars. He has a Derek Zoolander quality about him, where he always seems to be channeling a magnum-like pose but seems incapable of real human emotion.

The worst part of “Safe Haven” is a groan-inducing ending—a third act “what the hell” moment which made the audience burst into laughter. For most of the movie, it’s a “Sleeping With the Enemy” knockoff—including all predictable Sparks-inspired tropes. Then they throw in a Shyamalan-inspired twist that is so poorly conceived, it makes the movie feel like a long joke leading up to an insulting punch line.
Just for the banality of that moment alone, the movie gets half a star.

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