Kevin Hart is one of the most beloved comedians of modern times. His style of comedy led him on a tour back in 2009, which turned into multiple yearly engagements, ultimately leading to his shows being filmed and released to a much larger audience. And from there, the sky was the limit. His self-deprecating comedy, mixed with his takes on life experiences makes his comedy incredibly funny, without tearing down others in the process.
It wasn’t long after Kevin reached stardom in the comedy scene that he made the leap to TV and films. His first big film was opposite Ice Cube in Ride Along. And from there he would go on to play the sidekick in many other films, mainly in the action-comedy genre. In the Jumanji remake, Hart was paired with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for the first time. And from that moment, the two became the 2000s equivalent of Abbott and Costello, playing off each other effortlessly. They are still one of the best comedic duos in Hollywood.
However, while Dwayne Johnson can flip the switch and become whatever type of actor a film project needs, Kevin Hart just doesn’t have the ability. And that shortcoming is very apparent in the TV series, Die Hart. Originally airing on the now-defunct app, Quibi, Die Hart Season 2 (known as Die Hart 2) is currently available on the Roku Channel.
In the show, Hart plays himself, trying to find work in Hollywood as a major action star. Attempting to sway movie producer Debra Simon (Melissa Ponzio) into getting him preferred roles, Kevin stages a restaurant robbery and saves the day (of course), but when he reveals the robbery was fake, Debra refuses to assist him any further.
Footage of the chaos finds its way to the news media, bringing his plight to the attention of Karl Stromberg (Greg Kriek), a crime lord. Karl offers to fund Kevin’s “improv action movie,” renewing the actor’s dream. During his “film,” Kevin teams up with long-time costar, Jordan King (Nathalie Emmanuel), his personal driver, Andre (Ben Schwartz), Andre’s mom, Cynthia (Paula Pell), and retired stuntman, 206 (John Cena). However, the crew soon realizes that everything happening to them is real, and Kevin’s acting career is not the only thing in danger of ending.
When I first saw the episodes of Die Hart 2 were only nine to 10 minutes in length, the most obvious question of, “Why?” came to mind. It wasn’t until I researched the Quibi channel that I found out the answer. Quibi was a subscription service that provided its users with television shows and movies filmed in small bites, and in the vertical format — the idea was that most people consume content on their phones in short bursts. The original Die Hart series was filmed in this format. With the app no longer in service, I was not able to find the first season. After Roku bought the rights, Season 1 was converted into its own film. However, that is also not easy to find, at the time of this article.
This is where my first problem with Die Hart 2 comes in. The Roku Channel is not designed to only be used on mobile devices. However, the channel chose to continue with the nine-minute episodic format. All eight episodes of the season were released on the same date. Thus, there is no build between episodes, like in network series. Each episode of Die Hart 2 just ends, picking up at the start of the next show. It creates an unneeded pause every few minutes in some awkward spots. You can’t expect to have a cliffhanger every nine minutes, and not burn out the audience. But the directors sure did think this was a good idea.
Averaging nine minutes an episode, this makes for a 72-minute movie. And had it been released in movie format, the story would have flowed better. Having to wait for your Roku to queue the next episode just as you start getting into the flow of the show just became irritating.
The second biggest problem with Die Hart 2 is Kevin Hart. Now, do not get me wrong. I think Kevin Hart is one of the best comedians, ever. But his style of comedy needs someone strong to feed off of. He needs a partner to team with that gives back a “straight guy” energy to Hart’s brand of humor. Ben Schwartz does his best, but the show turns Ben into the sidekick, leaving Hart to take the reins and lead. And it just does not work. The best action comedies actually feature someone who fits the stereotype of an action-movie leading actor or actress. Kevin Hart is just not a person who I have ever seen as a leading action star.
He’s perfect as a sidekick, but terrible as the leader.
Finally, Die Hart 2 fails to use its supporting cast properly. Hart actually plays two roles in the show: the main hero and the antagonist, Doug. They could have used some of the other talents that make appearances in the show, but they doubled down on Kevin Hart being an amazing actor. But as I previously stated, I just cannot take him as a serious hero, much less a serious villain. Karl is a perfect choice, as his vibes were on par with Hans Gruber from Die Hard. Instead, we find that Karl is just an actor, paid by Doug to kick off the events leading to the adventure. This was an abject failure on the writer’s part.
Die Hart 2 has a decent concept, and with some changes, it could have been an excellent film. However, as it is, Die Hart 2 gets two out of five stars. As the season ends on a cliffhanger, Die Hart 3 is probably in the works. And hopefully, the forced breaks every nine minutes and turn this into a full movie, lean on Hart’s strengths and actually use a “big bad” that works. Without the first season to compare, I cannot say if this show got better or worse.
But what I can say is that Die Hart 2 just fails on so many levels.