Die Hard, Hard Drive
The thought of watching Bruce Willis put on his grubby white vest once more and wise crack his way through another "Die Hard" movie, whilst pushing his aging body through some Yippie-kay-yay action is not something which particularly excites me. Don't get me wrong as I like Willis as an actor and for the most enjoyed the original "Die Hard" movies, but a decade after "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" and with Willis now into his 50s it just sets alarm bells ringing.
When cyber terrorists threaten to bring chaos to the whole of the United States, through an assault on the countries computer systems detective John McClane (Bruce Willis Perfect Stranger) finds himself back in the thick of the action, delivering old style justice to a new strain of villain with the aid of computer geek Matt Farrell (Justin Long - Idiocracy).
To their credit, the people behind "Die hard 4.0" realised that the old style "Die Hard" movies, where action spoke louder than words and even louder than the plot, would not garner the same praise from a new generation of cinema goers. So they delivered a movie with a reasonable storyline revolving round the modern threat of cyber terrorism whilst including enough action to satisfy the Yippie-kay-yay generation. What they didn't do was to make it in the least bit realistic and in all honesty "Die Hard 4.0" should start with a public announcement asking you to ignore any need for logic or realism and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Right from the outset "Die Hard 4.0" pushes the boundaries of belief when a computer geek flirts with a woman on the phone, come on we all know that computer geeks lack the confidence or the ability to communicate in anything other than techie speak. So it continues with even more unbelievable and outrageous scenarios, especially when John McClane finds himself stuck on the wings of a deserted fighter plane. But then the outrageous and implausible was always a big part of the "Die Hard" set up, so why should the latest in the series be any different, just maybe they should have toned it down a little.
Despite this, "Die Hard 4.0" is still reasonably entertaining and part of this comes from having new themes running through it. Yes, McClane still manages to find himself in the midst of yet another terrorist plot, but this time they are cyber terrorists who for the most do their battling with their keyboards rather than their fists. I actually liked this modernistic theme and even though it is not the most solid of storylines, count the plot holes and expectations that you take things for granted, it manages to keep anyone with a slight interest in the world of the internet interested. Of course they make a lot of things up when it comes to the capabilities of cyber terrorists, well not so much make things up, but make it look all so easy. Even so, the whole main theme to "Die Hard 4.0" is entertaining and works well with technophobe McClane attempting to adjust to away of fighting which he doesn't fully understand.
I also likes the way John McClane ends up baby sitting/ partnering a computer geek, Matt Farrell, who is his complete opposite, being quite whimpish but also quite bright, though saying that he seems a lot cooler than your typical IT nerd. The movie plays on the differences between the two brilliantly and the verbal sparring between McClane and Farrell still allows for all the usual wise cracks which we have come to love from McClane. Even McClane's relationship problems have moved on and now it is his daughter Lucy who causes him more heart ache.
Of course "Die Hard 4.0" would not be a "Die Hard" movie without plenty of explosions, shooting and general outrageous action scenes. But even though it has more than enough in this department, it just seems to be lacking the excitement and adrenalin which makes you sit up and pay attention. Part of the reason why I feel it lacks that final punch ties into one of my fears over whether Bruce Willis is still up to the job of action hero. Willis is still in remarkably good shape but it seems that some of the action sequences have been toned down to compensate for his aging body and rely heavily on visual effects rather than his physical presence. It also doesn't help that some of the special effects look a little bit ropey and rushed, causing laughter instead of excitement, especially cars flying over the heads of people.
Okay so Willis is getting on a bit in years but he is and always will be John McClane, and although I have some quibbles over the action, it is good to see Willis wise cracking his way through another "Die Hard" movie. Other than the aging, his character hasn't really changed much and is still as gung ho as ever, it is the world around him which has changed. One of the things I do like about "Die Hard 4.0" is the rather peculiar partnership of McClane with Farrell, played by Justin Long. But I am in a dilemma over it, the verbal sparring works well, but for me I associate Long with frivolous comedies, such as "Dodgeball", and at times he seems completely out of depth in this action movie. In the scenes on his own he seems in command of his performance, but the minute you put him alongside Willis, he seems in awe of him and seriously over shadowed.
Where I really have issues is in the bad guys, the terrorists, okay so except for a handful of heavies they are basically cyber geeks, but they are not at all frightening. Am I worried about their terrorist activities, not for a minute, unplug their PCs and they look like they will cry. In all the other "Die Hard" movies the bad guys were menacing and slightly over the top, in "Die Hard 4.0" they are just too normal. The only baddie who really has any weight is the beautiful Maggie Q as Mai Linh, a dab hand with the keyboard whilst more than capable of kicking arse, but then she is seriously underused. Note to the James Bond film producers, if you are looking for a new Bond girl, Maggie Q would be perfect.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Die Hard 4.0" is for me a pretty average action movie which only seems better due to its heritage. Compared to the first two "Die Hard" movies it is a bit below par but then it is better than the third in the franchise. Even so, once you get past the outrageousness of some of the action and plot holes, it is one of those movies which is entertaining especially if you enjoy Bruce Willis in full wise cracking flow.