As an impoverished student, my film choices and thus my film reviews are rather limited in scope. I could review everything in my collection but I tend to only buy good films and so the reviews aren’t exactly entertaining to read. I could borrow films from friends, but this has one inherent problem- say I sharpen my critical claws on Average Film IV: The Boredening’s face, the lender of the film sees the review on this site and takes it as an e-kick to the balls- it’s just not good to piss off the people who inexplicably like you. Anyway, all this has pushed me to review the one last black sheep in my collection, “Die Hard 4.0”
The story follows veteran cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he gets involved in a cyber-terrorist plot to fuck up something-or-other, masterminded by expert hacker Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). McClane ends up unofficially recruiting hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to help him stop this new threat to American freedom. Oh yes, it’s one of those “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, Stars and Stripes waving, apple pie munching films where the hero’s actions enable the rest of the country to get on with their everyday lives. I’m honestly sick of all the so-called American patriotism on the screen these days. I’m not anti-American by any means, but is patriotism really all about shouting your love for the country as loud as you can and rolling out the ol’ Star-Spangled Banner in between blowing shit up and breathing? I mean, I’d say I’m a British patriot, but I don’t feel the need to have the Union Jack waving outside my house or watch films where the British hero saves the World just in time for tea and crumpets.
“Die Hard 4.0” (as it was called over here, rather than the retch-worthy “Live Free or Die Hard”) is a brilliant example of studio pressure. If anything, it’s more Die Hard 0.5 than 4.0. It seems pretty watered down. It’s a damn shame as the preceding trilogy is unapologetically sweary and bloody. So, before I decend into more bashing- is there anything to like about this film?
The answer is “Yeah, sure.” John McClane is simply a fantastic character. He’s just the average “wrong place, wrong time” guy whose appearance in 1988 spawned a plethora of rip-offs. Even though he’s been muted a bit in this film we still get flashes of the old McClane, which is always nice to see. I actually quite liked Justin Long’s character of Matt Farrell as he has a few good lines and generally comes across as a nervy, likable guy. Bonus points for having Kevin Smith appear- I love that man. The action is pretty inventive too. The blacked out tunnel and lift shaft scenes being the stand-outs. However, as good as those scenes are- you get the feeling that if they were slightly more adult and violent they would have been improved infinitely.
Thing is, I know swearing and violence does not a good movie make. However, they are integral to the “Die Hard” series. I mean, John McClane’s catchphrase is “Yippie-Kay-Yay, Motherfucker!” for example. In fact, talking about that- our hero doesn’t even get to say the line properly because of studio restraints. What he ends up saying has the offending word covered over by a gunshot. It’s just another kick in the balls for fans of the series. However, there is an unrated version of the film available on DVD which has all the swearing re-instated as well as a few more violent bits. It actually feels more like a “Die Hard” film rather than just another action film. So, if you simply have to see it/own it get that version.
“Die Hard 4.0” is an O.K. film. I mean, it has some good points (John McClane doing stuff) and bad points (that jet sequence was utterly retarded) in equal measures. If they’d released the Unrated cut theatrically I’d be giving it a much better score, but instead “Die Hard 4.0” gets an average 3 (.0)