Lowdown: Oh McClane, you’ve done it again!
Twenty years ago, with his Moonlighting career coming to an end and his musical career never taking off, Bruce Willis has established himself as a big time action star with just one film – Die Hard. Die Hard, and its first sequel coming in just a couple of years later, worked as fine action films because they presented a simple to identify with hero that is seemingly stuck in a very ordinary situation (picking his wife from a party or picking his wife from the airport) but actually finds himself in the thick of action. The action itself was of the very extreme type (hence the justification for the cool sounding “die hard” name); mix both factors together with some good action oriented directing and special effects, spray some one liner jokes and some catchy tag phrases, and you got yourself a winner.
Twelve years since episode 3 came and went and Bruce Willis is back from the morgue in yet another episode. Just like the rather too forgettable third episode, the fourth DH installment abandons the simplicity ingredient and tries to compensate for it with some bombastic action. Off went John McTiernan the director, too, and episode 4 now offers some run of the mill formula based action cinematography that looks way too much like most other action films around – notably, fast editing and in your face close-ups that make it hard to see what really is going on. But when all the dust is settled, Die Hard 4.0 still delivers. Not as much as before, but it delivers.
This time around McClane is in for a fight with computer hackers who take over the web to bring the USA into a standstill. He also has a sidekick, played by the Mac guy from the Mac vs. Windows ads. While Mr Mac seems to be messing with Unix more than with Macs this time, he does the geek role well enough to couple with McClane as the muscles. Together they go to save some USA silicone.
There is some potential for discussion on the meaning of DH4. You can argue it demonstrates the importance of the virtual world against the real world (which of the two is the real world?), and you can also argue that it makes some worthwhile commentary on the role of the media in today’s world. But all that means nothing; it’s all just a simple excuse to get the action going, and action is what everybody watching Die Hard watches the film for. Brains are better left behind here!
Even if the villains are a far cry from the standard set by the original, DH4 delivers repeat action punches. It doesn’t even bother with introductions or anything close to proper character development (other than development through action); it’s all shoot to kill, with the some steep body counts and damage bills, and some trademark Willis comic relief moments thrown in occasionally.
Second most ridiculous scene: McClane takes out a helicopter with a car.
Most ridiculous scene: McClane takes out a jet fighter with a semi trailer.
Sound quality: It’s OK, but from a film entitled “Die Hard” you sort of expect more.
Overall: When all the dust settles you won’t remember much of DH4 but you will still be smiling. Of all the grand sequels of late, DH4 delivers the best: 3 out of 5 stars.