Sunday, 27 February 2011

Die Hard 4.0 (2007) - Len Wiseman

Back in 2007 when this had it's theatrical run I decided that maybe a forth Die Hard film a full twelve years on from the last one, wasn't really something I needed in my life. For some reason this week I got chatting to someone at work about it, and he said it was actually pretty good. If by good he meant as over the top as any Michael Bay movie (the camera work in this film being just as fidgety as Bay's), then he was spot on. If you think you know what the Die Hard films are about then think again, this one is even dafter than Die Harder, and that's saying something. Think cars flying up in the air and taking out a helicopter, then think of someone jumping out of said helicopter onto a truck and walking away. Daft doesn't begin to do this justice. The world has turned a few times since last we met John McClane. Schwarzenegger went all political on us, presidents came and went, but more importantly (for this film at any rate) we've had 9/11 and 24. The plot for DH4 feels like it was torn straight from the pages of the later, while the former hangs around in the background.

Technorists have brought the east coast of the States to a standstill, led by one of the most uncharismatic villains ever (Timothy Olyphant) to hit town. Armed with only a handful of henchmen (evil of course), enough computer jargon to make Bill Gates run and hide and some laptops, they plan to bring the country to a standstill and half inch Americas cash via some far fetched mcguffin. Olyphant is reminiscent of Ed Harris' character in The Rock, insomuch as he used to be a good guy and is only doing this out of love for Uncle Sam. It'll make sense once you've seen it, I promise. Grizzly old Brooce, who seems more like a 21st century Harry Callahan than the fluffy haired wise cracking cop of yesteryear, only has 2 hours to fix things and save the free world. The story also feels like a cross between the first and third Die Hard films. The naughty nasty baddies (boo hiss) are terrorists on the outside but at heart just plain old thieves, while McClane gets to team up with someone well outside of his poker circle, this time a young computer hacker. Cue lots of genertion gap jokes and of course by the end of the whole shebang there is a mutual respect between the two, the nerdy hacker even manages to shoot his first bad guy. Yippie-Ki-Yay MotherFucker.

Or Yippie-Ki-Yay Mother…! If you watch the version I saw. Which had both the language and violence toned down, so even though it was full of people being shot there was no blood. All that in order to get a Parental Guidance rating in the US. Like the blood and swearing would be all that you would want to shield your child from. Still there you go, I don't have kids so who am I to say what they should and shouldn't watch? This is a very different beast from that first Die Hard though. That film is still one of the benchmarks against which action films are judged. So whereas back in '88 McClane was a semi believable type in a dirty vest, running about in a world firmly grounded in reality (kind of), now we find him living in some bizarre alternative reality, where he can jump on and off of an in flight jet fighters wings, roll out of fast moving cars and crash out of fourth storey windows all the while receiving nowt more than another nick on his face. Hmm.

DH4 doesn't stick entirely to the action genre rules (a good thing), there are little things like how the bad guys are all caucasian and speak in a variety of languages, while the head of White House security (or whatever his position was) is Arabic looking. Did you see what they did there? Very post 9/11, huh. I liked that. The story begins straight away and the audience isn't given the whole plot up front, instead they have to piece it together as the movie progresses. I ended up watching this twice in two days, purely because I wanted to see if it was any better once I had the story in my head (it was).  There are some nice nods to the previous films in here too, such as naming an FBI agent Johnson, McClane nattering away to himself about what a bad idea all this is and explaining how he overcame his fear of flying and all that, which should be more than enough to keep the fanboys happy. Talking of which it was a shock to see Kevin Smith turn up as WAR10CK, I thought he was pretty darn good, getting some decent lines and doing well in a cliched role.

Something I didn't like was the poor introductions for the lead characters, that and the the myriad of not only plot holes but just plain oddness. Things like why was it when all the gas was rerouted back to the power station it was on fire? There were hundreds of these stupid little questions raised in my head all the way through the film. Every time one arrived I just kept thinking it's a dumb ass action flick, stop being so hard on it and go with it. But those things still bug me. So apart from being dafter than a village idiots AGM this wasn't as bad as I'd feared. I can't see me watching it again any time soon, but it has made me want to revist the original three films. Which can't be bad, can it? With the news that Die Hard 5 is in the pipeline, surely Bruce must be 'too old for this shit' now?

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