Die Hard 4.0
"In terms of action cinema you’d be hard pressed to find anything more visually stunning."

There are certain actors who will always be associated with a particular role to which, no matter how hard they try, they will always remain inextricably linked. Harrison Ford has tried for years to bury the leather jacket and bullwhip in his broom cupboard while Sylvester Stallone happily embraces the fact that Rocky Balboa is his greatest ever role. There aren’t many, however, who can so readily and so convincingly slip back into a role after over a decade as Bruce Willis does with John McClane. The grubby and blood-sodden vest are arguably the trademark of the most successful action hero of all time and certainly the first person to speed dial should you need some terrorists dispatched in spectacular fashion.

The most recent Die Hard instalment, tagged 4.0, may garner criticism due to the fact that its somewhat toned down action dropped it into the teenage friendly certificate 15 bracket. The action is no less frenetic, no less unrepentant in its sheer obscenity and John McClane endures what can only be described as the most ruthless pounding ever seen in modern action cinema.

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Having taken over from John McTiernan, master-in-chief Len Wiseman rightly acknowledges the ever increasing shrewdness of the modern moviegoer. No longer can the New York cop pump off round after round, casually landing choice body and head shots and dropping bad guys by the dozen. It just doesn’t work like that any more and, while the action may be a little far-fetched in places, overall it is symptomatic of a very meticulously choreographed symphony of carnage. From F-16 fighter jets to a brawl in the bowels of a power plant, John McClane cuts his teeth on the post millennium era in fine style.

In truth, the series needed an overhaul after McTiernan’s somewhat stodgy Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995) looked the part but bore all the hallmarks of a movie going through the motions. The ludicrous action sequences are updated with a chillingly frosty sheen, giving the film a cool and somewhat calculating feel. Timothy Olyphant gives an excellent turn as the ruthless super-hacker Thomas Gabriel, making a refreshing change from the traditionally camp, if somewhat erratic, villainy of the Gruber brothers. Mark Bomback’s script also gives the series fresh vigour with a suitably politicised ambling on post 9/11 America. As opposed to previous villains, who hailed from Eastern Europe but had a first class English twang, Gabriel is very much a product of the American system. His modus operandi being to unleash an almost apocalyptic pandemonium on the American people while broadcasting his nefarious agenda through cleverly edited presidential addresses.

In terms of actual credibility Die Hard may be the only remnant of the late and most definitely great eighties movie era to survive a modern overhaul. Willis is predictably triumphant as John McClane and very much steals the show hook, line and sinker. He is in good company with first class comedy back-up in the form of Justin Long. The New York cop is barely on the screen for five minutes before being plunged into a nail-biting gun battle but anything less just wouldn’t be Die Hard. The action builds to an ear-shattering crescendo involving a fighter jet chasing a big-rig truck down a freeway in one of the most pulse-pounding scenes since a certain group of terrorists first came face-to-face with the NYPD’s finest on an airport concourse.

In terms of action cinema you’d be hard pressed to find anything more visually stunning than Die Hard 4.0. The bar has been pushed so high over recent years that it’s disappeared through the ceiling - or, in the case of this picture, it explodes through the ceiling before getting hooked onto a helicopter and dragged across a set of power lines. As far as summer blockbusters go Die Hard 4.0 is leaps and bounds above the competition and it’s difficult to foresee it being equalled let alone surpassed by anything else on the horizon. In short, Yippee Kay Yay!

Reviewed on: 06 Jul 2007
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John McClane takes on internet terrorists.
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Andrew Robertson ***1/2

Director: Len Wiseman

Writer: Mark Bomback

Starring: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Jonathan Sadowski, Andrew Friedman, Kevin Smith, Yorgo Constantine, Cyril Raffaelli, Chris Palermo

Year: 2007

Runtime: 130 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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