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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Die Hard 4.0  

Review: written July 2007

Gum-chewing, popcorn crunching blockbuster - McClane is back

After a Summer of bloated sequels in 2007, how refreshing to see one that is actually as much fun as you expect it to be - if not more.

In other words, a Summer blockbuster movie which makes up with a sense of humour and a bit of heart what it lacks in originality or believability. There are some stunning set pieces, and even better, the action segues from one scene to the other in a genuine sense of momentum and urgency. This is good old fashioned high octane thrills, with a few things you probably haven't seen before... OK, it is significantly more ludicrous than its predecessors - cgi has enabled McClane to become just a little too indestructible. After the 4th or 5th time seeing him drop from some ridiculous height onto concrete or catwalks etc.. belief becomes just a little too suspended, and as a result we become a little dissociated from rooting for the hero. But let's not quibble!

Cast fit the bill - Bruce Willis carries the show, and Timothy Olyphant works fine if not spectacularly as the baddie. Justin Long as the computer nerd who holds the answers is a standout opportunity for wisecracks and the McClane humour touch... Also Maggie Q is the ‘hot but lethal’ `baddie accomplice', and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is entertaining as the chip-off-the-old-block young McClane.

Die Hard gained cult status for its sense of claustrophobia - it was the sense of confinement that helped up the ante, and this was somewhat less confined (in an airport) in the second, and less so in the third (whole of New York)... so letting McClane loose on the whole of the Eastern Seaboard (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it feels like it...) seems like a recipe for disaster.. but what balances this somewhat is the sense of familiarity with the city - this is McClane's spiritual home, and he is back being a cop (in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc, etc.). Taking the internet attack as the theme might not be the most original idea, but it works really well to give that `anything can happen' feel, and makes our old fashioned hero doing things the old fashioned way a real anti-hero.

All in all, this is just a good fun movie, and the much hyped PG-13 tag in the US has not muted the action and grit, just the language. I recommend catching it at the cinema where it is meant to be seen. Bring the popcorn. Leave the brain at home.





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