Die Hard 4.0 (Live Free or Die Hard)

Yippee Ki-yay!

I’ve seen a lot of “educational” movies in the last couple of weeks. What all movies tell us is that it takes only one man to bring down a corrupt system. Wise men know that this man is John McClane, although some might argue that his name is John Rambo (those same people, I would argue, have faces paralysed by years of steroid abuse).

I don’t feel like I do a lot of action movies; they have to have something going for them. If every action movie starred Bruce Willis, maybe that would change. I felt pumped for Die Hard 4.0 (yeah, its working title was retained for Australia). My pumpedness was paid well in explosions, gunfire, crashing people into walls, and crashing people into walls which then proceed to explode. This movie has everything.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is charged with picking up hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to take into Washington DC for questioning in regards to some dodgy hack work that’s been going on. Coincidentally, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) has chosen that moment to send a crack team of assassins to kill Farrell to cover his involvement in the aforementioned dodgy hackwork. McClane, involved in something that he’s clearly too old for once more, decides to protect Farrell and bring down Gabriel’s reign of terror! Unfortunately, McClane takes it too far … and things get personal.

I don’t know what it is about Die Hard 4.0; it contains endless things that would annoy me in other movies. I’m sick of stereotypical hacker nerds who are big into the scantily clad women on the walls combined with Spawn action figures (seriously, Spawn? Is Todd McFarlane still alive?), but this movie makes them largely forgiveable. I’m not much of a one for actual code and whatnot in computing, but this is another one of those movies where people can type and things will magically change on screen. Farrell (and really, you don’t have to know any name in this movie save the immortal McClane) has the sort of lines that speak of mad paranoid delusions, and then give way to “explosions! Wow!” and “Girls are pretty.”

It’s difficult to explain why none of this derivative nonsense is lame, boring, bland or offensive. It gets harder still to quantify when you consider that this film contains that most mysterious of beasts, Kevin Smith. I’m convinced that Kevin Smith is a new talisman for filmmakers: feature Kevin Smith in your movie and he can’t complain about it on the internet. On this count, I realise that I’m unfairly confusing Smith with Harry Knowles, but Smith does have a bit of “that” about him as well. He plays the ultimate in basement dwelling, living with belligerent mother, Star Wars cut-out interior decorating hackers.
And I guess he’s okay at it.

So beyond the computers, which can really be summarised by Penny Arcade, Die Hard 4.0 is a fun action movie: guns versus guns, cars versus people, cars versus helicopters, trucks versus fighter jets … you know how it is. There’s even a brief amount of Maggie Q doing the “Asian” thing and going all martial arts. It’s strange watching John McClane say stereotypical racist lines just to piss off a villain (although I haven’t seen the intervening two movies, maybe it’s part of his schtick), but it’s one of those things that has to be taken in context.

If you can accept that one man can take the beatings of a million men and still come out on top, Die Hard 4.0 is the movie for you. It inexplicably transcends everything that would be wrong in a lesser picture to create something thoroughly entertaining.

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