Saturday, July 14, 2007

Movie Review: Die Hard 4.0

*Andy thought he'll never get to see a great summer movie.
Is it so hard? And then there's DIE HARD 4.0.

Die Hard (1988), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990), Die Hard 3: Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) and now after twelve years, Bruce Willis is back as NYPD detective, John McClane in Die Hard 4.0 a.k.a Live Free or Die Hard.

The first Die Hard was considered the best action movie of its era and was also responsible for creating the “action star” archetype.
No prizes for guessing who shot to fame.

The question however should be whether a 52 year old Bruce Willis can reprise his role as detective John McClane.
There’s also the query upon the movie title with its numeric four decimal zero.

As the film opened, I immediately knew why.
The movie title flickered and Mai Linh (Maggie Q) was seen chatting up a hacker, Matthew Farrell (Justin Long) with an exchange of payment and information.
Moments later another hacker’s home was blown up as he presses the Delete button on his keyboard.
Something is definitely up and it has got to do with hackers but I still do not know what is really going on.
Suspense is created by curiosity.

But where is detective McClane?
He’s introduced in the movie spying on his daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) at a college car park making out with a boy.
In this scene we are reminded of the relationship strain between our courageous hero and his daughter.
The screenplay here will set the tone of McClane’s communication style.
There is a sense of authority, wit and involuntary charm about McClane’s character that is compelling.

The other character you’ll be made much aware of is Matthew Farrell, the hacker who McClane is specifically assigned by the higher ups to escort to the Federal Bureau soon after the argument with Lucy.
That would signal the start of 2 hours of non-stop action.
The first explosive sequence will see McClane and Farrell fighting and escaping five gun-welding assassins decorating Farrell’s apartment with bullet holes.
Just at a time when I thought stunts and bullet dodging was a lost art in Hollywood, the production crew here sure showed me.
The breath-taking actions never stop until the bad guy is.

The bad guy is Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), the mastermind behind a very elaborate virtual terrorists attack to shut down and take over the United States.
The story gets interesting when we know whom the bad guy is but we do not know what he is up to.
That is where the suspense, thrills and actions become Die Hard 4.0.
The atmosphere is intense to a fault.
I was hoping for a break in all the drama to give me some space to breathe and thankfully it came around the hour mark.

Here is the light hearted moment where McClane and Farrell gets to know each other a little bit better when they converse about their lives to each other.

Right after the break came the kick-ass fight scene between McClane and Mai Linh or the sexy and seductive Maggie Q.
When I mean kick-ass I do mean kick-ass.

We all knew McClane die hard so it became no surprise that Gabriel wanted to take things more personally with the kidnapping of Lucy which sets up a fight to the end.

“I'm gonna go kill this guy and get my daughter. Or go get my daughter and kill this guy. Or kill all of 'em!”

Die Hard 4.0 is the movie to describe the word “adrenaline”.

I must commend director Len Wiseman and his crew for giving me the rush.
(To get a taste of the rush I felt, go to the official website and soak in to the soundtrack)
There is another name on the crew list that I must mention.
He is Patrick Tatopoulos, the production designer.
His artistry as seen in movies like I, Robot, Underworld: Evolution, Silent Hill and Pitch Black gave Die Hard 4.0 a rich visual style.
All that and in combining with the vision of Len Wiseman and cinematographer Simon Duggan is a captivating Die Hard film.
I especially like the way the camera catches the details of surveillance objects throughout and the use of cool and warm lens filter to set the mood.

The cast is excellent, Bruce Willis is great, Justin Long is convincing in his role as the geeky yet irritably funny hacker, and so is Cliff Curtis who I almost fail to mention, in his role as the F.B.I top man.
My only complaint is not having seen enough of Maggie Q.
I feel she is really maturing into the niche of the female action star genre having last seen her in Mission: Impossible III.

The story by Mark Bomback and David Marconi really tells of the possible terrorist threat in a computerized environment and possibly inspired by the subject of security breach after the events of nine eleven.
Having such a heavy dependency on high technology, computers and the Internet in this modern era of ours, it would be terrifying to know they can easily become the means for a terrorist attack.
When the title reads 4.0, it says something about computer programming or a serial version of a software.
It serves to remind us of the hardware that we have so taken for granted in everyday living, namely the people around us who we often forget to care.
On the other hand, Live Free or Die Hard would be saying that we must remain vigilant to prevent our freedom from being compromised.

“All you gotta do is go pick up a kid in New Jersey, and drive him down to D.C. How hard can that be, huh?”
John McClane was lamenting about his job shortly before launching a police car into a pursuing helicopter.

All you gotta do now is go see how he did it. How hard can that be?
Show your appreciation, It’ll be well worth it.

Movie link: