[Being further notes I wrote a long time ago but never posted for some reason.]
Die Hard 4.0
This film is essentially the same concept as the earlier films: a terrorist distraction tactic to disguise a large robbery. Not that we want originality in our franchises or anything …
Bruce Willis looks very old in this film, which makes the stunts look even more ridiculous: when he survives being on top of a jet that spins before crashing, we’re not talking reality here.
After hassling the guy hitting on his estranged daughter, Willis is asked to pick up a suspect for the FBI: Justin Long, a computer geek for hire. He and others have been working on security code for an unknown source; the others have been killed by the same people with bombs in their computers, the best way for killing young computer hackers. Willis saves him before his bomb goes off – the bad guys come in with guns: and we’re off!
The criminal behind it all (Timothy Olyphant) is a former top computer bod for the government who was dumped when he showed them how insecure their computer systems are. He has created a ‘firesale’ (everything must go) by hacking into and destroying the computers that run everything – phones, traffic, television, power supplies – but ultimately it is a front for stealing money.
So now Bruce has a funny sidekick (Long does nerdy computer guy well) and they chase and fight the bad guys. Olyphant doesn’t really exude the required menace, but it must be tough to be compared with Alan Rickman. For some reason, he has a sexy Asian female lover/henchwoman, who doesn’t serve any real purpose other than fighting Brucey and getting killed so that Bruce can taunt Olyphant, which angers him so much that he kidnaps Bruce’s daughter to make it ‘personal’.
This is an average action film – Len Wiseman does a competent job (better than expected after the Underworld films) but this is nothing exceptional. He does film an odd choice, where a jeep goes down a lift shaft, which is something I haven’t seen before, but then he’ll film strange things like the aforementioned jet scene and driving a car into a helicopter. The film also lives in the shadow of the first film (there is an Agent Johnson reference) and mentioning the history of John McClane. But it doesn’t compare, obviously, not even with the lesser second and third films; it’s just a modern version of the idea but worse because they diluted it down for PG13 consumption, thus losing a vital component of the enjoyment.
And, for the first time, I felt sorry Kevin Smith – I know he’s a big Willis fan and nobody would say no to an extended cameo in a Die Hard film, but this was a good performance from Smith, even if he just does a good job of basically being himself, hand gesticulations and all. He is also looking very fat in this film – I hope he didn’t do a De Niro to play the stereotype of an overweight internet nerd living in his mother’s basement …