| The Red Right Hand
DIE HARD 4.0
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
At the fragile age of four years old, I was unaware of the release of Die Hard. By the time I was fourteen, it was all I could talk about. Die Hard was and is the greatest action film ever made. Unlike a lot of critics, reviewers and fans, I am a big fan of the entire trilogy. The second instalment, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, was a little tacky but still looked and felt like a Die Hard film. The third part, Die Hard With A Vengeance, operates on a very different level, with a larger setting and lack of recurring characters but it reinvented the series and made for a very entertaining watch. Twelve years later, Bruce Willis is reprising his role as Detective John McClane in Die Hard 4.0 (or Live Free Or Die Hard, depending on where you reside).
The plot makes sense, it's simple enough to follow but a lot of it seems a little pointless; just a device to carry McClane from one action sequence to the next. Essentially, a computer genius, Thomas Gabriel [Olyphant], is annoyed with the Government for ignoring his claim that any able-minded cyber terrorist could infiltrate and destroy the United States' online systems in a matter of hours. In order to prove that it could be done, Gabriel sets out to do exactly that. To get the base work done, he enlists a large amount of hackers to write small strings of code - without knowledge as to what it is for, under the pretence of "just to see if they could do it." Once each hacker had finished their codes and their services are no longer needed, Gabriel's henchmen dispose of them. I had a problem with this part, due to the method employed. Rather than just shooting the geeks in the head, the terrorists somehow manage to plant C4 explosives in their computers, set to detonate when they hit the DELETE key; seems a bit excessive to me but whatever. McClane just so happens to be in the vicinity of hacker Matt Farrell [Long] and is ordered to find the kid and escort him to Washington DC. Once he gets there, all hell breaks loose and the two of them team up for a two hour massacre on the senses.
I know this is going to receive a bit of flak but I think this is a great Die Hard film. Bruce Willis recreates his character perfectly, the action is brutal and the series tokens are still present. Of course, it's not without fault; Timothy Olyphant, despite best efforts, is no Gruber or Col. Stuart. He is fairly menacing but not enough so for me to list him highly in the annals of Die Hard lore. The second problem is the action sequences, not dissimilar from certain scenes in Die Hard With A Vengeance, Die Hard 4.0 conjures up some pretty unrealistic, humanly inescapable scenarios. I'm not saying that they are in any way poorly done but suspending disbelief can only take you so far. Then there's the whole Parcour thing that every film (since Casino Royale) feels the need to include. I know this irritated a lot of the fans but the rating issue didn't bother me that much. The action was still intense and the brutality focused but the fact that the PG-13/15 rating was considered at the last minute, leaves the film poorly dubbed, laced with shoddy editing. It's clear throughout the film that both Farrell and McClane are spewing "Fucks" at a blinding rate but the lip synch/voiceover work suggests otherwise. It's fine by me because, to be honest, by the time the DVD is released, they will have an unrated version with everything put back in which will set everything straight - and let's face it, that's the one we'll all own and watch again and again. Despite these small let-downs, Die Hard 4.0 is still really enthralling. The notion that a 'good' Die Hard has to be set in a small or confined space is a shared belief but in my opinion, the true nature of a successful Die Hard film is in knowing that this man is willing to sacrifice himself and his lifestyle because there's no one better for the job. McClane is the best sort of john-bull accidental hero, a man who holds high opinions of justice and the law but will go to any lengths (lawful or otherwise) to protect them. His personal life is a sham and though he is rewarded with a pat on the back and a small monetary bonus, his family shun him and he goes home alone; a modern-day Wyatt Earp. I realise that may have come off as a bit preachy and a little too heart-felt for something as trivial as Die Hard but I mean it.
4th July 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
That God-awful jet scene. I remember the crap I had to put up with when someone turned to me and said (of the original Die Hard), "If he really did jump off the side of the building with just a hose for a rope, he would have either broken his back or just fallen flat on his arse." I am willing to witness the realms of preposterous action sequences (and each instalment has one. Die Hard: fire hose rope, Die Hard 2: successfully falling off a Boeing jet unharmed, Die Hard With A Vengeance: dump truck surfing, Die Hard 4.0: crawling out of an SUV caught in an elevator shaft) but the whole 18 wheeler Vs. jet sequence was just plain stupid. Granted, it was very exciting and thrilling but I can't think of a single person (who has an IQ above 76) who would believe that scene for one moment. Trust me, it will be the fan's deal breaker.
Before I highlight a singular character, I want to bring your attention to Justin Long and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Justin Long, of Dodgeball and US Apple Mac advert fame is not nearly as annoying as I had originally predicted. I first saw him as a nerd in Galaxy Quest, he returned as less nerdy nerd in Jeepers Creepers and then he popped up in the Britney Spears nightmare Crossroads... as a nerd. Nerded it up in Dodgeball and then Herbie, again, nerd and finally Die Hard 4.0. Nerd Hard. Now you may be asking why I just slapped his Curriculum Vitae all over my review, simply to point out that despite being typecast as an annoying geeky kid, he manages to act his way out of that, despite still playing a geeky kid; got it? Also, Winstead's take on Lucy McClane is pretty effective. I wasn't overly convinced at the start of the film but while being held captive, she becomes her dad - to a degree. Anyways, I'm getting carried away. I'll just summate quickly with, Bruce Willis represents everything Die Hard is and delivers another phenomenal if incredibly unbelievable performance.
"Mai? Asian chick, likes to kick people? Yeah, last time I saw her she was at the bottom of an elevator shaft with an SUV rammed up her ass."
In A Few Words:
"Although some may claim this is not a Die Hard, I genuinely believe this to be a healthy addition to the series"