The Die Hard franchise has a special place in my heart, I saw the two first movies almost every time I was sick as a kid, and John McClane is probably my favorite movie hero. When I heard about a fourth movie I had the same feeling as when I heard about Terminator 3; I generally don't like it when sequels are created so many years after its predecessor, mainly because what we expect from movies, and how we look at them, changes, so a sequel released more than 10 years after the original rarely stands a chance when it's compared to the original movie(s). They should also just be able to stop when they're on top, there's no need to risk destroying a great franchise, and in some cases it just seems like they want to use a famous brand to earn some money. Anyway, naturally I had to watch the new Die Hard, and here's what I thought.
The plot is very simple: Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) wants to literally close down the United States by taking down the computer and technological structure of the country. McClane is supposed to pick up a cracker, Matt Farrell (Justin Long), who's on Gabriel's hit list, because, well, he knows too much. Of course the assassination fails and McClane and Farrell team up to put a stop to Gabriel's evil plans.
Firefights and melee combat is a must in Die Hard movies and the fourth installation starts out fine with a cool fight in Farrell's apartment (the scene from the trailer with McClane shooting at a fire extinguisher, thus blowing some bad guys out the window), and ends with a nice little car scene. The next part of the movie centers around a city chase, where McClane and Farrell are being chased through New York by a helicopter, it ends with an incredible scene in a tunnel with traffic coming from both ends and ending with McClane ramming a police car through the tolls, making it fly into the helicopter, as seen in the trailer as well.
As far as I remember there's one more proper fight scene, but it's pretty short. After the city chase McClane and Farrell goes to a power plant, where they know Gabriel's henchmen are trying to shut down the electricity in the eastern part of the US. At the plant McClane confronts Gabriel's girlfriend, she kicks his ass a little, he rams her into some shelves and stuff, she kicks him off the platform they're on and he steals a big car and rams it into her pretty face. "Your girlfriend? She's on the bottom of an elevator shaft with a SUV rammed up her ass." – Now that's McClane talking, unfortunately this is one of the few cool punch lines in the movie. They continue on to a cool and very funny scene with Kevin Smith, one of my favorite directors.
The last action scene is ridiculous. McClane is inside a big truck, being chased by a fighter aircraft, that fires some rockets after him, hitting a highway pillar, making the second floor of the highway collapse behind McClane; it ends with a part of the upper highway falling down right in front of the truck, like a staircase, making it possible for McClane to drive up. For some reason the aircraft starts hovering meters away from McClane, and by sheer chance a rock falls into the aircraft's engine, making it crash, but not before McClane jumps onto it, and then jumps down on the road the last second before it explodes. The scene is just too extreme, not only is it ridiculously unrealistic, it doesn't fit into the Die Hard franchise very well, because, well, he's not even fighting the aircraft, he's just kinda trying to avoid it until it just so happens to crash. I would much rather have had a proper fight scene with Gabriel and his goons, but no, that part of the movie's ending is very anticlimactic and it's over in a few minutes. The movie is packed with CGI, and in some scenes it's fitting, but in most it's too much, especially this last scene and the one with McClane destroying the helicopter with a car. Sure, it's cool, but it's just too unrealistic.
So, we get to the ending, McClane has found Gabriel, who is holding McClane's daughter hostage, McClane is shot in the shoulder, which looks incredibly cool, and then Gabriel grabs him, while pointing his gun into McClane's wound (thus also pointing the gun at himself), McClane finally goes "Yippie-ka yay, motherf-BLAAM!", and fires Gabriel's gun through himself and into Gabriel's chest, killing him. And yes, you read it correctly; he doesn't actually say "motherfucker", the sound of the gun masks it, and I can't describe how much that annoys me! Who gives a shit about not getting a PG-13 rating, this is John McClane, the king of cool punch lines and he's not even allowed to fire off the best one. Common sentence from Die Hard 1: "Fuck… Oh, John, what the fuck are you doing? How the fuck did you get into this shit?" That's how John McClane talks, I didn't hear one 'fuck' from him in this one, and it really affects the coolness of the movie's punch lines. Other than the motherfucker-line, there's one more thing you must include if you're making a Die Hard movie: McClane has too look like crap in the end, he's not a great fighter, but he doesn't give a shit, he kicks ass anyway, and takes a lot of punches while doing it. That's what so cool about him. And, sure, he looks pretty banged up after he jumps out from the car in the beginning of the movie and he gets shot a couple of times in the end, but that's it, where's all the blood? Where are the limp and broken bones? The cuts? Somehow I feel the need to achieve a certain rating is to blame, again.
See that? That's John McClane anno 1988 picking pieces of glass out of his foot…
… this is John McClane almost 20 years later, saving the country without getting all the shit kicked out of him, and be honest, what do we care the most about? McClane saving the day or McClane saving the day looking like he's been fighting a fucking army?
You also can't help thinking about a couple of things during the movie, like why none of the FBI agents thought about going to the power plant in West Virginia, why a parking lot leads directly into a power plant's main control room, how McClane knew where Gabriel was going in the end even though he was busy fighting a fighter aircraft, why Gabriel was using a van with a GPS that the government had access to and if Timothy Olyphant will be less annoying with no hair and a bar code in the neck. I doubt it.
Live Free or Die Hard isn't a Die Hard movie; it's an over-the-top action flick with a lot of CGI, and John McClane just so happens to be in it. Not a bad movie, but definitely not worthy of a place in the Die Hard series.