Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Mark Womback
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long
One night, an aging and bald-headed John McClane is following his daughter around in the middle of the night, trying to reconcile a strained relationship with her. He gets a call from his precinct to pick up a criminal suspect in the area. When he saves the suspects life from an assassination attempt he gets drawn into a confrontation with a disgruntled government worker and his army of computer hackers who are terrorizing America with the Power of the Internet.
“Yippie Kay Ay Motherf- *inaudible*”
– John McClane, conclusion of Die Hard 4.0
Of all the iconic R-rated Eighties franchises, only Rambo is returning in the 21st Century with his original rating intact. Like the regrettable recent Alien and Predator films, Die Hard 4 is where John McClane goes PG. So instead of having Samuel L Jackson as a foul-mouthed racist sidekick, McClane gets the guy from the Apple commercial who is a stuttering social recluse. Given that a lot of the banter between Bruce Willis and Justin Long is based on generational humour, I guess that means Justin Long represents Generation Y. Thanks guys.
Surprisingly the softened rating doesn’t make a difference for most of the action sequences when compared the earlier films. You still get Die Hard moments like McClane mounting a femme fatale and punching her repeatedly in the face and he gets to ‘kill a helicopter with a car’ in spectacular fashion.
Sure he can’t say his trademark catchphrase but that aside, most of the film still works and I think thats largely due to a combination of Bruce Willis’ charisma, the affinity the audience has with the character and director Len Wiseman keeping the CGI to a minimum. In fact, the film’s worst action sequence is when Wiseman does dabble with CGI and we get a rather atrocious highway sequence where McClane takes down a fighter jet while driving a truck. It seems out of place and better suited to a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
Naturally, the computer hacker stuff is pretty dubious and filled with unintentional Hollywood hilarity. The villains have complete control over America through their computers for everything from elevator security cameras to traffic lights. They can even control the direction of the plastic swivel on your webcam! Such is the power of computers which have constant streaming text in the style of the Matrix.
This is a sensationally dumb film but depending on your affinity for John McClane blowing stuff up, you might still find it worth your time.