Die Hard 4.0

Year: 2007
Production Co: Cheyenne Enterprises
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Len Wiseman
Producer: John McTiernan
Writer: Mark Bomback/David Marconi/John Carlin
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Cliff Curtis, Kevin Smith

Another month in 2007, another desperate grab for glory by an ageing action star who hasn't had a hit in a decade and so who returns to the character who made his name. Schwarzenegger is the only one who hasn't given in so far, but maybe the voters of California would think him working in movies would be unforgivable given his position — despite not realising how silly it was to vote for him in the first place.

Still, unlike the recent Rocky Balboa where Stallone just told the same tired story over again, Willis and franchise newbie director Len Underworld Wiseman have tried to update it for the kids of today — those whose parents were enthralled by the goings-on at Nakatomi Plaza way back in 1988.

Willis is just a cranky old badge now, but when they call him out to bring in a computer hacker (Long) in the middle of the night, he once again finds himself in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. The hacker is part of a gang of nerds privy to information about an impending digital meltdown wrought by enigmatic former US cyber spook Gabriel (Olyphant). Disgruntled after the government have edged him out of service and not taken his advice about the vulnerabilities in the system, he's decided to plan and launch the ultimate digital attack on US infrastructure to teach them a lesson.

With the Woody Allen-lite hacker (Long) in tow and his own daughter dragged into the mess, McClane has to do whatever he can in his own brutish fashion to save the day.

Is Die Hard 4.0 a good movie? A good action movie, sure. A good Die Hard movie? Not by half. Several problems plague it. The first is the premise underscored by the plot – that McClane is a relic of the analog generation in a digital world.

It doesn't feel like a cool update, it just feels like a desperate grab for cred by foisting an update on an old idea. And indeed, in this case it was — the movie that would become Die Hard 4.0 was a magazine article on cyber-terrorism. Without the McClane brand and its heavy baggage, it might have been a cool movie.

Willis also looks old, bored and tired, but the big problem is all about the set pieces. McClane leaping off the roof of Nakatomi Plaza tied to a fire hose or the half-built floor of the tower were the scenes that made the original so special, and the first and to a lesser extent second films were full of them.

Die Hard 4.0 has only two – the hanging car fight and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it car catapult into the helicopter that's been so ubiquitous in the marketing. Aside from those two examples, it's a fairly generic action movie that could have come from any director and been about any hard-to-kill cop. The film tries for a few more distinctive sequences, but many – like McClane single-handedly bringing down a jet fighter by jumping on its back – just come off as James Bond at his most stupidly over the top.

It's good and bad in equal measure for the above reasons, and can be comfortably filed in the 'desperate 80s star has been' drawer.

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