My rating of Die Hard 4.0, also known as Live Free Or Die Hard (Yahoo! Movies page): A (Outstanding)
Cast: Bruce Willis (John McLane), Timothy Olyphant (Thomas Gabriel), Justin Long (Matthew Farrell), Maggie Q (Mai), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Lucy McLane)
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Studio: 20th Century Fox
The Short Story
Die Hard 4.0 is simply amazing, because it blended kick-ass action and some amazing stunts with food for thought – about our vulnerability because of our dependence on computer systems. It is something like one of my fave movies of all time, The Net. The Net something far ahead of its time, and far more about quietly subverting networks. Die Hard 4.0 is that, and action, action, and well, action. And boy do I like Bruce Willis. Seriously, I like his
hairstyle a LOT (erm, he’s got no hair, only style). It’s a movie which is a good respite from the superhero stuff that keeps on being churned out all the time. It’s scary, it’s thought provoking, it’s fun. BTW, this movie is known as Live Free Or Die Hard elsewhere, but in some territories like India and Australia its got this other name to avoid some copyright dispute over the title.
Watch the trailer for Die Hard 4.0
The Long Story
You’d have heard of Warner Bros movies changing the theme of their logo for movies, and either haven’t seen too many or whatever, this is the first time I saw 20th Century Fox modifying it’s logo – incorporating a power grid failure and a computer screen blackout.
The concept behind Die Hard 4.0 is very real in modern times, of cyber terrorists bringing down countries. It’s about this security analyst guy at the US Department of Defense, who, after 9/11, warns the government that US computer infrastructure is insecure. He even breaks into a Joint Chief of Staff meeting and hacks into their defense networks to show them its unsafe. Instead of heeding him though, the US government disgraces him – muddies up his reputation. Bringing down the US to its knees along with his associates is all about revenge, and proving his point now. Die Hard 4.0 presents a scenario called a ‘fire sale’ – a 3-step attack to cripple a country. First, they take out all transportation systems, and grind everything to a halt. Second, take out the economic backbone, like breaking into stock exchange systems to show crashing stocks and triggering a panic sale. Three, taking out utilities, like phones, electricity, emergency systems etc. That’s all about the story I’m gonna tell, you GOT to watch the movie for the rest…
Die Hard 4.0 defies first perceptions. When I first saw the trailer, I thought this is going to a dumb action flick. Far from it. It really gives food for thought on how dependent we are on computers. I also thought that Justin Long – remember that guy who played the Mac guy in the Mac vs PC ads, and come to think of it, he was also there in the Lindsay Lohan movie Herbie: Fully Loaded – as Matt Farrell was going to be bad casting choice; I thought he’d end up looking comic. Instead, he comes across pretty well as the geeky hacker he’s supposed to portray. Bruce Willis, oh shit, he’s simply amazing. He does that balding-cop-about-to-retire-and-hates-this-stuff routine well, and the age of the character shows in the movie. The dry humor and oodles of sarcastic John McLane wit is peppered across the whole movie. Bruce Willis, in his ‘analog’ cop who understands no shit about computers, portrays the character. Talking about other performances, Maggie Q definitely does better in this movie than Mission Impossible 3, coming across far better in that tough woman role, and comes across far hotter at the same time. And I almost did a double take the first time I saw the trailer because I mistook Mary Elizabeth Winstead for Lindsay Lohan. I’d have died out of excitement if I’d seen Bruce AND Lindsay in the same movie. Well, not much to talk about her role anyway, but she does look like LL, with the same diabetes-inducing sweet looks. There was this other geek guy on the bad guy team I liked for his performance although I don’t recollect, er know, his name.
Die Hard 4.0 is also about stunts. Have a look at the trailer before this. You’ll see loads of sequences, and believe it or not, they actually DID most of them rather than going of computer-generated graphics. So seen that car smashing into helicopter scene? They actually hung a real helicopter from a crane, and smashed a car into it for that scene. There’s more. For the scene where Bruce Willis is on the F-35 VTOL aircraft (boy, THAT was an amazing scene too), they actually built a full size model. For another scene where Bruce Willis runs down a fire escape, they practiced it for ONE week – and then shot the whole scene in one go, rather than in takes. And for that scene in the tunnel where a car flips over and lands on top of two other cars – they actually DID that stuff in a tunnel with real cars, real crash-bang. It came at a price though – one of Bruce Willis’s stunt doubles fell 25 feet down to the pavement while shooting one scene and broke most of his bones. THAT is the sort of work they put in, and the result is realistic stuff that shows that. Plus, my fave, using raw camera scenes, it’s a visual feast. Even the hacking stuff, something widely abused and messed up in most movies, are done pretty well.
Watching Die Hard 4.0 was a tribal ritual for me, with me worshiping the screen (Ra ra, Bruce Willis!!! Yipee ki yay!!!!), his performance was damn good. And the hairstyle! At the same time, Die Hard 4.0 is scary, about how a computer backup is all that stands between us and total mayhem. There was this amazing scene where the whole US eastern power grid is taken out, and the city lights switching off was stunning. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Die Hard 4.0 is far more rooted in reality, and has definitely got a more credible storyline than the earlier three in the series. Of course, can’t resist a movie milling around with geeks, Alienware laptops, and techno-babble, can I…
PS – For those who’re wondering “Isn’t this guy supposed to be studying for his exams now?”, you’re totally right, and erm, my explanation is, er…