Monday, May 20, 2024

Die Hart (2023)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Die Hart (2023)
Genre: Action, Comedy
Length: 1h 24min
Rating: TV-MA
Director: Eric Appel
Writers: Tripper Clancy, Derek Kolstad
Actors: Kevin Hart, John Travolta, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jean Reno, Josh Hartnett, Kenneth Trujillo, Eric Mainade, Joshua Lamboy, Brandon Quinn, Milana Vayntrub, Stephan Jones, Jason Jones
IMDb Blurb: Kevin Hart - playing a version of himself - is on a death-defying quest to become an action star. And with a little help from John Travolta, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Josh Hartnett - he just might pull it off.
Cat’s Point of View:
I will say, right out of the gate, that I am a huge fan of Kevin Hart (DC League of Super Pets, The Man from Toronto, Lift). My whole family is. His comedic timing feels effortless and I also appreciate his more serious side – which this whole movie underscores (to the degree that satire allows). I will, generally, watch anything he's featured in. Selina and I often express this sentiment by saying we'd watch our favorite actors read the phone-book. Hart would find a way to make even that mundane task hilarious.
I now have an image of that in my head that's making me giggle. It's not too far of a digression, however, because the thought leaves me with the feeling that concept would have been a more successful series for the Quibi platform than the story for the Die Hart movie – the focus of this review.
Why Quibi? What is Quibi? If it doesn't ring too many bells or only feels like a vaguely familiar term, don't feel too out-of-touch. Quibi was an extremely short-lived subscription streaming platform that lasted roughly 6 months in 2020 from launch to shutting down. It offered “Quick Bites” of content in segments of 10 minutes or less. Die Hart (2020) was originally a series on the Quibi platform. Following Quibi's shuttering, Roku aquired the failed streamer's content and Prime worked out a deal to turn a condensed version of the Die Hart show's run into a movie. So here we are, offering the proverbial “2 cents” on that end-product.
Now that we're all caught up to speed, let me first say that I enjoyed my experience watching the action-comedy Die Hart. It wasn't the best movie or even general comedic work by Kevin Hart, but I think that was supposed to be the point. I'm not sure. Director, Eric Appel (Son of Zorn, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Afterparty), was at the helm of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022), as well. I feel like this caricature of Hart was probably supposed to be over-the-top in a similar way.
The concept was interesting and slightly meta – the whole “movie within a movie” angle helped give a little grounding to the entirely bonkers events. The key to enjoying this movie was just to lean in and roll with it. Die Hart wasn't entirely as nutty as some comedic parodies and satirical romps of the past such as Top Secret! (1984) or Airplane! (1980). I think this might have left Die Hart somewhere in the middle where audiences were expecting a more typical action-comedy. This film, while full of familiar tropes, definitely wasn't typical.
Die Hart had some excellent casting going on. Jean Reno (Da 5 Bloods, The Doorman, Lift) was an excellent choice for an eccentric filmmaker. John Travolta (The Poison Rose, Mob Land, Cash Out) was also a great fit for the seemingly psycho action-star training camp guru. He's had plenty of experience playing both unhinged characters and over-the-top movies. I loved seeing Nathalie Emmanuel (The Invitation, Fast X, Arthur the King) in the more action-oriented scenes here, too. I've seen her in a lot of more dramatic roles where she hasn't had much opportunity to show off those skills. I was also excited to see Josh Hartnett (Wrath of Man, Ida Red, Oppenheimer). More often than not, he's in such serious roles. I love to see him in the occasional project where he can just cut loose, such as Die Hart or Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2023). In fact, I'd go so far as to say that there's an interesting similarity to Kevin Hart's character here and Hartnett's character in Operation Fortune – on a strictly coincidental surface level.
While I “get” where Die Hart was coming from, and I had fun watching it, the movie just didn't have the zing that I had hoped for. If you're a fan of Kevin Hart, or even any of the other cast members, I'd encourage you to give this one a watch and see for yourself how you feel about it.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 43%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –28%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
P.S. - When Roku obtained the Quibi programming, a second season was created on the new platform. This “sequel” series was also given the condensed cinematic treatment and released via Amazon Prime as Die Hart 2: Die Harter (2024), and is available to watch now.
Movie Trailer:

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