Reel Rewind – Die Hard 4.0

Die Hard 4.0 (M)

Directed by: Len Wiseman

Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

The stars of 1980’s action movie heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone appear to have faded but there seems to be no end in sight for Bruce Willis. Returning to the role that made him famous, Willis shows he can still hold his own against the new wave of action film characters such as pirates, transformers and comic book heroes.

Since we last saw NYPD detective John McClane 12 years ago, he has divorced his wife Holly and has a rocky relationship with his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But he is soon forced to dodge bullets again when another seemingly ordinary job puts him in the middle of a cyber terrorist plot. He is ordered to pick up Matt Farrell (Justin Long), who is suspected of breaching a FBI computer system.

But Matt is one of several hackers that have been targeted by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) who is systematically shutting down the United States computer infrastructure. Gabriel and his crew begin causing havoc by manipulating traffic lights, then they crash the stock market, turning the country into hysterics. But things get personal when Gabriel kidnaps Lucy and hold her hostage. McClane has to keep the kid alive, save his daughter and stop the terrorists before they cripple the entire country.

This watered down fourth installment in the popular series has taken a slightly different approach and tone and does not always benefit from it. It fails to capture the playful yet edgy spirit of the other films and of the character of John McClane. When once he was an everyday cop with a vulnerable side, here he is a one-dimensional, indestructible superhero. Unfortunately, this keeps the audience at arm’s length and drains some of the fun from the proceedings.

Since we haven’t seen McClane for over a decade and technology has progressed so enormously since, the filmmakers could have had much fun playing on the concept that he is getting too old and all this is way over his head. Alas, they don’t. Instead they have him driving a truck through a collapsing bridge, hanging from a car suspended in an elevator shaft and coming away with only a few cuts.

Don’t get me wrong, the action sequences and stunts are jaw-droppingly awesome and no one had been looking forward to this film more than me, but credibility is strained considerably, leaving not a single believable moment. There is some humour with a great cameo by Kevin Smith, director of Clerks. Your enjoyment of this film also depends on how much computer mumbo jumbo you can handle, and be warned, there is a lot.

As appeared in Examiner Newspapers, 2007.

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