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A Good Day to Die Hard
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami
  • Sony Classical / 2013 / 65m

“Yippe Ki-Yay, Mother Russia!” screams the tagline, amusingly.  Unfortunately that turns out to be the best thing about A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth and probably final entry in the longstanding action franchise.  John McClane is no longer the reluctant hero battling bad guys, but this time out is thrust into an all-conquering, 80s-style-Schwarzenegger type who goes to Russia to save his estranged son and kills most of the population while he’s there.  Director John Moore has worked with composer Marco Beltrami three times before – and Beltrami himself scored the previous entry in this franchise, so it was only natural that he should return, entrusted with continuing the legacy of Michael Kamen.  The score opens with a little quote from “Ode to Joy” and Kamen’s theme for McClane is plastered all over it (though Kamen is mysteriously, rather unforgivably, uncredited); but really Beltrami’s scores are very different from any of the franchise’s first three.

It’s balls-to-the-wall action almost from start to end.  Beltrami does action very well – fortunately! – and his very modern blend of orchestra and electronics works a treat; the lengthy album seems to breeze by in no time.  The choppy strings, brass alternating between providing thunderous action accompaniment and occasional at times moments of noble heroism – it’s thrilling stuff.  Virtually every track here is action-dominated; the eight-minute sequence with two “Truckzilla” tracks sandwiching “Yippe Ki-Yay, Mother Russia” is just blisteringly exciting.  The occasional more emotional moments provide some much-needed relief to the tension – “Father and Son” is a lovely piece which appears immediately after the previously-mentioned action fest; and the finale, “It’s Hard to Kill a McClane”, features the kind of sweep Jerry Goldsmith always brought to films like this.  Is there anything particularly distinctive about this score?  No, and that might be a problem for some.  Such is its entertainment value though, I’m willing to forgive that, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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  1. Miles (Reply) on Sunday 17 February, 2013 at 18:39

    From what I understand, Kamen is credited in the film for ‘Die Hard Theme’. At least there’s that, I guess.

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 17 February, 2013 at 19:22

    Ah, that’s good to hear. Missed that.

  3. Jim Ware (Reply) on Sunday 17 February, 2013 at 19:45

    The ‘Triple Vodka Rhapsody’ is hugely enjoyable. A silly, throwaway cue consigned to the end of the album but clearly indicative of Beltrami having a bit of fun with the material.

  4. Spielboy (Reply) on Wednesday 20 February, 2013 at 10:50

    yes, Kamen’s McClaine theme is credited in the musical section of the end titles, with other songs. But I think Beltrami quoted a few more kamenisms from DIE HARD in the movie…

  5. Chris Avis (Reply) on Thursday 21 February, 2013 at 20:11

    I’m quite impressed by this score. It’s the most enjoyably aggressive modern action score for me since Giacchino’s MI:3 score. I’d give it four stars. The one thing that I do find lacking is the lack of a really powerful theme that would elevate some of the action material. It’s a problem I have with Kamen’s Die Hard scores also. This is my favourite of the DH scores (though I’ve not heard DH3, admittedly).