Die Hard 4(.0)

Wednesday 4 July (2007)

die hard 4.0

Well, for die hard Die Hard fans like me, today’s the day. After twelve years away, and three films of varying degrees of excellence, the fourth movie is finally here. And the verdict is quite surprising, because (literally) against all the odds, Die Hard 4.0 isn’t actually all that bad. In fact, I really rather liked it.

The Die Hard movies are so old now that adding another to the series is almost like those remakes that were popular a couple of years ago – Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch etc. – and as such, it runs the risk of trying to either parody itself or re-invent itself. Both of these things would have been disasterous, but fortunately Die Hard 4.0 is definitely ‘part’ of the series. Little things show that the producers have really done their homework – from the soundtrack; an excellently updated homage to the original, to the build-up of the story, and most importantly of all, McClane himself.

In many ways this film takes the best elements of each of the previous three and mixes them together to form a single movie. That is not to say it’s better than any of the originals (more on that in a moment) but there are certainly shades of McClane’s earlier adventures inside this new one. Once or twice a scene would feel out of place, but whenever I noted so I realised that the original films had similar scenes anyway – when McClane argues with his daughter early in the film you think, ‘this isn’t Die Hard!’ but then you remember the similar argument between John and his wife at the start of the first film. Sure, it was done a lot more smoothly (and a hell of a lot less obviously) in that earlier movie, but it’s the same thing. Again, when McClane has a heart-to-heart with his hacker sidekick Matt Farrell (Justin Long, from the Mac ads) it mirrors the Al Powell/radio scene in the original film – but again, less eloquently.

All this said, the film seems split into two halves. The first hour is in fact extraordinarily good – all those moments from the trailer that we all sighed at, thinking they’d ruined the series, are actually fine – but the second hour flags a bit. The situation is introduced in true Die Hard style – someone’s causing big problems, and no-one can figure out who they are, why they’re doing it, and what they’re going to do next. McClane is drawn in after a routine pick-up of a suspect (the hacker, Matt Farrell) turns into an ambush. After disposing of the baddies, upon delivery of the suspect all hell breaks loose. Traffic control in the city is taken over by the bad guys, as well as the Wall Street computers and communications networks. No-one has any idea what the hell is going on – but McClane soon finds out, they’ll go to any length to kill Farrell, who protests his innocence.

In this first hour everything is great. Throwaway references to obscure characters in the first film (Agent Johnson) and a cross between the ‘at-the-whim-of-the-baddies’ techno-fear from Die Hard 2 and the open-city chaos of┬áDie Hard with a Vengeance makes for a very entertaining experience. McClane is at his best, struggling to understand the situation but with better instincts than those around him, and he’s still capable of a few wry chuckles every time he drives a car into a helicopter – the climax of an almost-realistic and quite scary scenario inside a closed-off tunnel.

The second hour lets the film down. The usual Die Hard ‘twist’ (read: discovery of the motive) is in place, but it draws McClane away from the epicentre of the chaos for far too long. Also, some of the things that happen in the second hour border on the ridiculous – but then, I suppose it was quite ridiculous for McClane to drive a cab through Central Park in Die Hard 3, too. It’s still entertaining of course (and the action scenes – especially at the climax of the movie – are superb) but the film never really reaches the heights set in the first hour.

There’s a lot to like about this film – the action scenes will blow you away and it’s very funny (‘enough of this kung-fu shit…’). How does it fare as part of the series? Well, obviously it doesn’t come close to the first film, and it’s not quite as tight as the third – but it certainly rivals the second. It’s Die Hard done the modern way, and I suppose that’s the only way it could be.

All-in, I was expecting something a lot worse than this. Hell, it’s really entertaining and that’s reason enough to see it on its own – but if you love the Die Hard films the way I do, you’ll find there’s a lot here for you to enjoy.


One Response to “Die Hard 4(.0)”

  1. manish Says:

    it`s a very good picture

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