Tis the season of grizzly actors returning to their action flicks of yore, with Brucie joining the likes of Stallone (Rocky and the upcoming John Rambo) and Ford (going back to Indiana Jones - he’s 65 years old for Christ’s sake!) As a series, Die Hard never really surpassed its original (an absolute classic) so I questioned the need for a fourth instalment with a more ‘mature’ John McClane. To justify this new one, they needed to do something spectacular. And they don’t disappoint.
Ignoring the weaker UK title of 4.0, this fourth instalment of McClane’s antics as a one-man crime-fighting lunatic asks the question ‘live free, or die hard’? What it should be asking is ‘how much blood can McClane leak before he really needs a wash?’ Within the first thirty minutes, John’s been aggressively shot at, exploded, run over and hurled from a speeding vehicle, leaving his head a criss-cross of oozing grazes. “It makes me look sexy,” he quips, limping away from the third (of many) head-pounding action sequences. It also makes him look well ‘ard, and proves that this guy in his fifties can still kick ass, and quip-ass.
This film is absolutely jam-packed with insane yet deliciously enjoyable stunts. Baddies are flung every which way, cars roll through the air (just brushing the last remaining hair on Brucie’s head), helicopters are taken down by flying cars and a lorry battles against a jet. A lorry verses a jet! Come on!
The crazy old-school action sits alongside a modern, relevant plot involving technology being hi-jacked, with some good digs at the dodgy nature of the news and the general reign of fear it produces. Mirroring that is the double-act of Brucie’s haggard cop and newbie Justin Long (the dude from Herbie and Dodgeball), a hacker inadvertently caught in the mayhem. Long is surprisingly likeable and riffs with Brucie well, injecting humour amongst all the carnage. And the big bad is played by wide-mouthed lovely Timothy Olyphant (Bullock from the brilliant Deadwood) who hams it up nicely with a mix of scary and witty.
Of course, being an action film there’s no real shortage of silly. McClane is near-enough invincible, repelling bullets and avoiding death when it’s shoved in his face every five minutes. His daughter is perhaps unnecessarily shoved in to add to the people he has to rescue, though she at least puts up a bit of a fight instead of being the token woman.
As the plot involves ‘technology’ and ‘hackers’ there are also the inevitable Hollywood scenes of people using computers in a naff way. I know nothing about hacking and the like, but I’m fairly sure it involves a little more than typing quickly on a keyboard. Otherwise I’d have cracked a dozen networks already just by writing this review. What can they possibly be typing in those situations? They say “I’ll get you a map up of this place”. And type: get map up of this place. There, easy.
But Die Hard isn’t about making complete sense or tying in with the laws of logic. It’s about big, bold fun, and number four hits the nail on the head. It’s 130 minutes of daft excitement and giddy enjoyment, and swings in with a CF1. It would’ve made an extra point if Brucie was wearing his vest.