Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith
Director: Len Wiseman
Storyline: A bunch of hackers unleashing virtual terrorism need their backsides kicked and John McLane obliges.
Bottomline: Yippi Ka Yay! Mo-friggin’ good.
For most Die Hard fans, it’s paisa vasool just to watch John McLane say: ‘Yippi Ka Yay Mother…’ This breed could die of a happiness overdose watching Die Hard 4.0.
John McLane is back doing what he does best – kick as soon as he gets a chance to, the good old-fashioned way.
Like always, he is the man at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not Christmas but it’s the fourth of July this time.
Pretty much like Rocky Balboa in his last installment, John McLane too now spends a lonely life. No wife, a daughter who’s bitter with him. “Know what you get for being a hero? Nothin’. You get shot at… Your wife doesn’t remember your last name…”
He’s not exactly dying to be a hero and yet always near-dying when he becomes one, out of no choice. Like he says, “If someone else would do it, I would gladly let them.” Speaking for the rest of us, the hacker kid he’s protecting (Justin Long) tells him: “That’s what makes you the man.”
It’s that emotional core of Die Hard 4.0 that raises the film above the mindless-action-based sequels, even bettering the original.
Not that the sequels were all bad. The original Die Hard (1988) was a classic action flick that made profanity sound cool. Die Hard 2 (1990) was really pushing the scope of possibilities to plausibility-defying proportions and yet managing to land smoothly as McLane gives the bad guys a ‘Yippi Ka Yay’ send off with his cigarette lighter. Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) started off on a promising note with the ‘Simon Says’ game but the key revelation happens too early in the film and we’re left with nearly an hour of an explosive steeple-chase which after a point becomes really redundant.
Thanks to Wiseman, with the emotional core intact, Die Hard 4 explodes into a recklessly racy video game – a cat-and-mice (come on, the bad guys are always mice compared to John McLane, our cool cat) game too like the previous films.
We always knew McLane hated technology, so here they pit him against something he has no clue about and that is what makes him vulnerable. The villain is technology, not the guys specifically. Like the bad guy Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) says, “You are a Timex watch in a digital age.”
Even when it’s about combat, McLane is dealing with sophisticated fighters. Maggie Q plays a martial arts specialist. “Mai? Asian chick, likes to kick people? Yeah, last time I saw her she was at the bottom of an elevator shaft with an SUV rammed up her ass…” goes McLane after taking her on: “Enough of this kung fu shit.”
McLane sticks to basics. He knows someone is responsible for wrecking chaos and he knows he has to find them and kick their assembly. In the process, he sends cars flying, takes on an F-35 jet sitting in a truck and yeah, like the John McLane Guyz Nite tribute song tells us, “the greatest car-explosions by far.”
Justin Long (Accepted, Herbie Fully Loaded) plays the perfect foil to McLane, speaking for us most of the time, like when he observes: “You just killed a helicopter with a car.” “I was outta bullets,” reasons McLane with his trademark cool.
Bruce Willis just seems to get better at this with age and it would be a pity if he signs off the franchise with this one. The man carries the film with his profanity and timing, getting beaten, battered and bathes in blood before he finally gets to say: “Yippi Ka Yay Motherfucker!” (Jerkoffs wouldn’t like that on print, would they?)