Take a sip every time Bruce Willis calls Justin Long “kid,” take 2 sips every time Bruce Willis is befuddled by technology or computer babble, take a shot every time an unprecedented hacker has an intuitive, professionally designed user interface, as if penetrating government networks had the user experience of Microsoft Office. Play along and you probably won’t remember the only real vestige of the PG-13 rating, the cut-off “yippie-ki-yay motherfucker” in the last 3 minutes!
More seriously, Die Hard 1 is one of the most perfect and creative action movies of my lifetime. Die Hard 4 does basically none of the things that made the original so amazing, and in fact is so different from the original, there’s no reason it even had to be in the franchise. (Rename Willis’s character, drop the familiar catchphrases and I’m not sure a single person would mistake it as a Die Hard.)
That’s not to say this is a bad movie, though. Not at all, in fact: it is a delightful action romp with inventive and escalating set pieces. Sure, John McClane is a Superman. But Willis has amazing chemistry with Justin Long, who remarkably holds his own in screen presence. And the script is not quite as stupid or inane as you might fear. It has some thoughts about our over-reliance on technology, even if it’s too preoccupied with motorcycles crashing into helicopters to dig into them too much.
The third act is white-knuckle, and the human core of John McClane as Dad (of an eye-poppingly beautiful Elizabeth Mary Winstead) is so rich that it legitimately raises the tension. Just a blast of a blockbuster.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100
Very Good (6/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.