Whaddayaknow? Len Wiseman makes a pretty entertaining film when he’s not ruining the vampire and werewolf movie genres simultaneously in Underworld. This fourth Die Hard still feels irrelevant – somehow the straight action movie genre seems dead – but it’s a lot of fun all the same.
There isn’t much continuity of which the writers need to be aware – John McClane’s older, he’s still divorced and has a daughter, but that’s about it. The plot is the biggest letdown – in a kind of Mercury Rising/16 Blocks hybrid, John’s escorting a genius hacker across town when the shit goes down. Timothy Oliphant’s behind it all, and whilst this thesp is finally getting the attention he deserves, he really doesn’t get to flex his acting muscles all that much. He’s intense, sure, but doesn’t even have a worthwhile evil plan.
Justin Long effectively plays Samuel L. Jackson’s replacement, and is a good foil for John’s ridiculous bravado. Bruce Willis has fun, and some of the best moments in the film come as he giggles more and more crudely at each explosion/crash/death he causes.
Since the abilities of CGI effects have skyrocketed, Hollywood has turned its attention to fantasy and comic book adaptations; because really, they can do anything they want with the real world. Not that the effects in Die Hard 4.0 are by any means perfect – in fact some are awful, relying on lens flares, rapid cutting and a moving camera to hide the flaws.
It’s one explosion after another with only the flimsiest of excuses (“truck versus jet? Why not?”), and such excess leaves the film worse off. Remember the harrier jet scene in True Lies, and how it went just that bit too far? Well practically all of Die Hard 4.0 is like that. (Why did Australia get the crap title? Even the working title Die Hard: Reset was better.) I enjoyed the big set piece at the end of Underworld: Evolution, but this film simply takes it too far. Wiseman seems to have no sense of escalation, and moreover has forgotten the power of restraint.
It’s not a bad film, really. If you’re looking for big dumb fun, then here it is. I just hope that it doesn’t herald the end of the ‘real world’ action movie. Good action and suspense is bound by rules, and Die Hard 4.0 doesn’t seem to have any.Rating: