Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Kevin Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Synopsis: Many years after the last instalment, Die Hard returns. McClane gets drawn into a terrorist attack that is targeting the realm of information technology. Given his previously well established technophobe status, the side-kick duties go to Long’s Matt Farrell, a hacker whose activities unwittingly contributed to the initiation of the chaos.
A review by Film Nerd.
There was a mix of dread and anticipation when this film was originally announced. Sure, Die Hard is a great franchise and ripe for a fresh instalment. But Bruce Willis has aged considerably, so could he still pull off the big scale action blockbuster. The naysayers need not have feared, as not only is Willis still convincing in an action role, the other important half of the equation, the laconic wit, is 100% in tact.
Making technology the enemy was an inspired choice. If anything has been evident in this films predecessors, it is that McClane has never been a fan of all the mod cons. As such, he is placed out of his depth immediately. Without someone guiding him through, chances are him being successful would have been implausible. Enter hacker Matt Farrell, another great big geek boy for Long to add to his long list of similar roles. Before even seeing the film, I realised this partnership would determine the success of the film. Thankfully, Farrell is not just a whiney inept tag-along type. Yes, the director does exploit the fact that these two guys are from completely different realms, but Farrell becomes a worthy companion to McClane, and steps up to the plate when it is required of him.
Olyphant also is deserving of mention. His villain actually has some pretty interesting motives, subverting the classic terrorism or bank heist macguffins of the previous films. His history is shrouded to begin with, but as the layers are peeled back, matters do get more interesting. Maggie Q has little to do overall, except be an arse-kicking vixen, a role she has also played in Mission: Impossible III. I believe she is next to appear in a renewed television series Nikita, one of the many American rip-offs of Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita. She does have the potential as a good actress, so this may not be a bad thing. I would have liked to have seen her character here developed more though. The other major cast member is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as McClane’s daughter Lucy. She does achieve a lot in a relatively small role, and as mentioned in my review of Scott Pilgrim, she is an actress I intend to keep watching from this point on.
From a drama perspective, the film does achieve some brief moments of depth. More so than any of the other films to date, the script explores the implications of what it is for McClane to be a “hero”. It is not all roses and cotton candy, that is for sure. That said, it simultaneously explores his motivation to step up when needed. It is an interesting angle for a franchise born in the ’80s, but it was perhaps a vital link that connects this films with the expectations of modern audiences.
On the flip side of the coin, the other important thing to mention is the action. It is regularly over the top, and scenes of McClane hanging on to a fighter jet to avoid falling from a destroyed bridge do stretch credibility to breaking point. If you are going to criticise the film for this though, you are clearly missing the point. Simple fact is, Wiseman has recognised that what propelled the action in the previous films is a constant sense of fun, and the action here delivers just that.
This is a perfect film for already established fans of the film franchise, as well as being a good introduction to the uninitiated (I can see Bride of Film Nerd reading that line with a bit of trepidation… not without reason as I think I will introduce her to this film at some point). My personal recommendation is to sit back and enjoy the ride.
4 stars (out of a possible 5)
Die Hard 4.0 on IMDB
Die Hard 4.0 on Rotten Tomatoes