Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Mark Bomback, David Marconi, John Carlin
Producer: Michael Fottrell, Stephen James Eads
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Jonathan Sadowski, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Kevin Smith, Cyril Raffaelli, Zeljko Ivanek, Edoardo Costa, Yorgo Constantine, Andrew Friedman, Sung Kang, Tim Russ
Running Time: 129 min.
Ah, Die Hard-the movie ranked #1 action movie at Entertainment Weekly. The only one I didn’t see in the series was the second film, but, since I hear it doesn’t matter, I’ll assume the McTiernan versions should be enough to judge the fourth installment. Instead of shooting a real sequel, Len Wiseman decided to remake Hackers, but team up the criminal prodigy with a grizzled cop played by Willis. A hacker terrorist organization trying to shut down the country sends electronic letter bombs to throw off the feds’ scent. Matthew Farrell, the tech support anti-hero of the film, becomes a suspect behind the bombings; so the FBI sends John McClane to bring him in for questioning. Unfortunately, the cyber-psychos send in their own goons to finish the job, and McClane becomes more involved than he’d prefer. In order to defeat his new opponents, he has to survive the usual fist and gun-fights, as well as black-outs, shut-downs, and rogue electronic equipment.
Unfortunately, McClane has become whipped. His wife left him, his daughter won’t speak to him, and he can’t even beat down Maggie Q’s zombie without a struggle. Still, he manages to exhibit most of the old McClane ingenuity as he out-smarts those young whipper-snappers and their new-fangled toys by ironically relying on his pre-mass technology survival experience. While the most of the country can’t even depend on functioning iPods, let alone electricity, he uses whatever he can get his hands on-usually made of metal-to win. So whether he’s blowing up cars or people, McClane still manages to stay cool when everyone else is going nuts.
Still, when it comes to surviving the “internets”, he relies on Farrell as his trump card. Whiny, scrawny, and geeky, the only thing Farrell is good at is shutting down servers and overriding viruses. He’s also clumsy, but somehow manages to match wits with an ex-Defense Department systems analyst who took cyber-security a bit too far and got canned for it. Even though he dresses more emo than Peter Parker, this criminal is apparently able to form a clique where he gets tail on the side.
Yes folks, a classic action series got dumbed down into a computer nerd war movie. That’s not to say that there aren’t any decent action sequences in LFODH. It’s just that most of them occur on the road and were already done before in Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Road Warrior, and True Lies. With the exception of MQ, the hand-to-hand combat is brief and anti-climactic, possibly due to the PG-13 rating, or more likely due to that bullet-time hackery Wiseman subscribed to in Underworld.
In fact, Willis is the only thing saving this film from being a total geek fantasy. While everyone else dies from shrapnel without so much as a bruise, his character is completely bloodied from all the blasts and beatings he encounters. It helps that you can believe he’s still doing most of the stunt-work. It also helps that his character serves as the anchor for what would probably be a derivative espionage film leaning towards wire-fu, rather than story. He’s just trying to do his job, and doesn’t care about the hacker rivalries. I just wish that more attention was given to him, and not the computer monitors.
Ningen’s Rating: 7.5/10 with Willis, 5.0/10 without him