Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

“Wow, I know that tone. It’s just weird hearing it come from someone… with hair.”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant

Die-Hard-4It’s 12 years after we last saw John McClane on our screens saving the day, and how things have changed. Die Hard 4.0, or Live Free or Die Hard as it’s also known, feels very different to the previous films in the franchise. With a plot more reflective of modern society, which is rather inevitable, the Die Hard franchise has been completely refurbished.

When an online terrorist organisation starts systematically shutting down the United States, McClane is asked to go and pick up young computer hacker Matt Farrell and bring him in for questioning. Arriving at Matt’s flat, McClane finds himself at the end of a lot of gun fire, someone obviously wanting this guy dead. Barely escaping with their lives, McClane and Matt make their way back to the station.

Die Hard 4.0 follows McClane and Matt as they try to locate the Internet-based terrorists and shut them down before they completely close all online and technological aspects of the United States, which would send America ‘back to the stone age’, apparently.

No white tank top, no hair and no cigarettes, who is this man we once knew as John McClane? Bruce Willis has reprised his role of McClane most probably as a way to cash in, lets be honest. With the new glossy tone and somewhat censored action sequences, Die Hard 4.0 doesn’t feel like a Die Hard movie at all. Where are the gritty scenes that encompassed the first three films? And when your main character, who is known for saying one line and one line only, isn’t allowed to say it fully due to the film’s certification, there is no way it can be classed as a Die Hard film: “Yippi-ki yay mo-” just doesn’t do the trick.

Nope, John McClane isn’t the guy he once was. Another thing seriously letting down the film was the main bad guy, Thomas Gabriel, played by the most monotonous actor ever, Timothy Olyphant. Compared to the likes of Hans Gruber, Gabriel just seems to be an annoying man who is a bit bored. There is no real motivation or evil within him, and it makes the whole movie feel a bit flat in the good vs bad department. Even when he has McClanes daughter in his hands, the worst he does is give her a little slap. Pathetic!

As with the previous Die Hard films though, Live Free or Die Hard doesn’t fail to match their inclusion of slightly out-there and questionable scenes, however it does seem to tip it into a degree of ridiculousness. Two scenes in particular spring to mind – one involving a massive truck, and the other a helicopter and our very own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Die Hard 4.0 is a real let down and doesn’t really deserve to be part of the franchise we have all grown to love. With John McClane now an old man, and the original aspects that made the films so loveable a mere memory, it would seem this was a last ditch attempt at squeezing out as much money as possible from the franchise. Unfortunately, someone thought this was a good idea and what we have is a very poor excuse of a Die Hard film.

Star rating:   5/10

Directed by Len Wiseman.

Running time 128 minutes.

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Trailer: Admission (2013)

UK release date March 22.

Cast: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff

A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption.

Directed by Paul Weitz.

Running time not yet released.

Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)

“Said Simple Simon to the pieman going to the fair, ‘Give me your pies… or I’ll cave your head in.'”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson

Die-Hard-3For once, it ain’t Christmas. However we still have John McClane to save the day and I guess that’s all that matters. As an added bonus Samuel L. Jackson has been enrolled to beat the baddies too, and oh what a team these two make.

When yet another terrorist puts the lives of thousands of people at risk, this time by placing bombs around New York City, John McClane and Zeus Carver must play a deadly game of ‘Simon Says’ to diffuse them before they go off.

I really liked Die Hard With a Vengeance, and I would go as far to say I liked it more than Die Hard 2. What I will also say is that this is probably because John McTiernan – who directed the first Die Hard (but not the second) – is back in the directors chair.

Bruce Willis is back in the shoes of his most favoured character for the third instalment of the franchise, and with 5 years separating this and Die Hard 2, it was nice to see that Willis could revive McClane so effortlessly. Teamed with his tank top, his gun and much fewer cigarettes than last time, McClane jumps back to being the star of the show. Along with Willis we also have another protagonist to root for, Samuel L. Jackson. Acting as McClane’s sidekick, Jackson is great as Zeus. In some ways he has been cast in the role of a very stereotypical black man, yet he still really manages to get to the roots of this character and act on behalf of our amazement at some of the things McClane does. He also has the ability to make his role funny and entertaining to watch, which is great as there has always been elements of comedy within the Die Hard franchise.

The bromance between John and Zeus is probably one of the first major man-friendships to grace the big screen and has become very well known. There are no doubts as to why is was so well received throughout audiences either as the writing was top notch. Like previous Die Hard’s the script is full of action, pace and drama. With our dynamic duo having to solve riddles against the clock too, there is a big amount of pressure added to the film.

Die Hard With a Vengeance is my second favourite of the franchise, and I think that’s mainly due to McTiernan getting us back to the McClane way of doing things. With more explosions, memorable one-liners, chase scenes, tense moments and gun battles than before, the third instalment of Die Hard is very reminiscent of the first.

Star rating:   8/10

Directed by John McTiernan.

Running time 131 minutes.

Trailer: The Croods (2013)

UK released date March 22.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone

The world’s very first prehistoric family goes on a road trip to an uncharted and fantastical world.

Directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders.

Running time not yet released.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

“Oh man, I can’t fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”

Cast: Bruce Willis, William Atherton, Bonnie Bedelia

die_hard2

It’s Christmas Eve and a group of rogue military officials have seized control of Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. Taking thousands of people hostage by gaining control of the airborne planes and their flights paths, their aim is to rescue a drug lord from justice. However their plan comes under strain when John McClane rears his head and goes back to doing what he does best: kicking ass.

Die Hard 2, or Die Harder as it is more affectionately known, is a great sequel to the first instalment of epicness we see from John McClane. With his wife on one of the planes, combined with his do-good,
hero-esque attitude, there is no way he is going to sit out of this one.

Bruce Willis comes back as McClane with more force and vigour than ever. With his character already established he can jump straight into action with this guy and give us more of what we fell in love with the first time. Armed with his tank top, his cigarette and his pistol, there is no doubt that we have our rough and ready cop back to save the day.

In the same manner as Die Hard, Die Hard 2 gives the baddies just as much screen time as the goodies, which again makes for a good story well told. William Saddler plays Colonial Stuart, a ruthless leader who is easily influenced by money, trying to help this notorious drug lord to escape from the hands of justice. His portrayal is great and he does well as the face of evil in this one. What we also see with Die Hard 2 are the lines between good and bad blur, and it’s always a bit up in the air which side of the fence a few people sit on; it makes for a more interesting film though and allows for a few twists to be thrown in toward the end.

It should also be said that there isn’t much variation on the formula between the first Die Hard and this one, but why fix something that isn’t broken? It’s another fast paced, bullet ridden, action packed film that has you on the edge of your seat from the outset. It never slows down with its efforts to entertain the audience and keep them interested, and it certainly pays off.

There is also an arguably better feature in Die Hard 2, and that is its location. By taking place in a more open space, there is more freedom with the events and sequences that unfold. Rather than being confined to one building, McClane has the run of the airport and the buildings surrounding, so we get to see a bit more of everything. There are still some very questionable scenes though, more so than in the first Die Hard, but really, it just goes to show that John McClane is even more badass than we previously thought. I wouldn’t criticise this aspect too much as this is just something we have to accept, it makes the movie more fun anyhow.

If you liked Die Hard, which I am going to assume you did (I’ve not met anyone who didn’t) then you will like Die Hard 2. It’s a great sequel and extremely enjoyable to watch. While there isn’t much difference apart from where the events takes place, it still does the job right, that being a high paced thriller that satisfies our need for something entertaining, exciting and explosive.

Star rating:  8/10

Directed by Renny Harlin.

Running time 124 minutes.

Trailer: Dead Man Down (2013)

UK release date March 8.

Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper

In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss’s victims, a woman seeking retribution.

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev.

Running time not yet released.

Trailer: Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

UK released date March 22.

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor

A modern day fairy tale in which the long-standing peace between men and giants is threatened, as a young farmer leads an expedition into the giants’ kingdom in hopes of rescuing a kidnapped princess.

Directed by Bryan Singer.

Running time not yet released.