Back to the basics for cowboy stuff

Die Hard 4.0 (English)

Director: Len Wiseman

Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphaunt

He might be a drunk, divorced bottom-feeder on the wrong side of 50, but American cinema’s favourite cowboy cop sure can keep up with the times.

When he started off in the ’80s, John McClane smoked like a chimney and rubbed everyone off the wrong way.

Right through the ’90s, he was a symbol for racial integration, always with an African American buddy in tow, while the bad guys had names like Hans and spoke in thick German accents.

Now in the 21st century, affirmative action is passé, and so is smoking.

So in Die Hard 4.0, Bruce Willis’s McClane has a white hacker for a “partner” (Matthew Farrell played by Justin Long), cusses less and doesn’t smoke and the enemy is from within — a disgruntled computer expert Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphaunt), who sets out to show that the post 9/11 American security framework is susceptible to digital attacks. The story doesn’t play as well as the first Die Hard, lacking (as did the third film Die Hard With A Vengeance) the tight claustrophobic tension that comes from playing the entire film out in a single building. Instead, director Len Wiseman looks to broader stunt canvases to create the edge, throwing cars, trucks and even Hong Kong action girl Maggie Q, flying through the sky.

What Wiseman doesn’t trade in, however, are those off-the-cuff, breezy exchanges that made the series what it is.

Willis, for his part, looks centuries from retirement, even years after his compatriots turned in their acting shoes for governorships and what not.

He may not whoop his yippee-ki-yays, but his sideways smile still gives you the goose bumps and he can take his share of punches.

Of course, plots are thin as ever. Die Hard 4.0 retains all the classic elements of an edge-of-your-seat flick.


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