If you've been following this blog, you know that I love Die Hard. I consider it to be the best action film of all time. And it was followed up by a worthy sequel in Die Hard 2: Die Harder and and even worthier sequel in Die Hard with a Vengeance. When I first heard about a new entry into the franchise. I was a bit skeptical, but upon seeing the trailer, I was jazzed about the movie.
So, I picked up the movie last week and had myself a little Die Hard weekend. Having recently watched the first one during my Ten Movies in a Weekend fest, I watched all three sequels over the weekend. Too bad it had to end on a bit of a downer.
Story In the context of the John McClane series, it was weak. The Die Hard movies have always worked because of the confined space aspect. In the first one, he's trapped in a building. The second one, he's in an airport most of the time. In the third, the space opens up to some degree, but he's still trapped in the game Simon is making him play and is confined to New York City. In the fourth movie, he's all over the place. He's not confined in any way other than in the circumstances.
In recent history, Rocky Balboa seems to have started this trend to bring back movie heroes from the 80s/90s. Rocky Balboa did it right. Take the star and look at where he is 12-15 years after we last saw him. How have the events we've seen in the previous films affected him? What has happened to him since that time? In Die Hard 4, we don't get that other than a few little tidbits, we have no idea who McClane is now. And other than the name, we really don't get a sense that he's the same character from the previous movies.
(Additional sidebar: I see this trend continuing with a new Indiana Jones movie, a new Rambo movie, and who knows what else down the road. I fear that luster will be lost each time a hero is brought back.)
Finally, and maybe most importantly, the villain in this movie is weak. Alan Rickman, William Sadler and Jeremy Irons all played worthy opponents. So worthy that you really might expect that they could have beaten McClane. But the villain in 4 is not worthy. Worthy for Justin Long perhaps, but not Bruce Willis. Good movie villains are getting hard to come by these days.
Presentation Too over the top. Would have been a decent Jack Bauer movie or a spin-off of The Transporter, but John McClane this wasn't in its sense of scope and action. To borrow some Dungeons & Dragons terminology, by the end of each movie, McClane is usually about 2 hitpoints away from being dead. Here, we see that McClane has leveled greatly since the last movie and has achieved some sort of immortal status.
Maybe Len Wiseman should stick to directing vampire movies about characters who can jump from semi to jet to crumbling bridge and still get up and run to the next fight. I'm all for fun action movies, but the action level was too amped up for what had been a little closer to reality. Had this been just another Bruce Willis action movie and not a Die Hard movie, I might have liked it a little bit better.
The sequence in the middle of the movie at the power station was probably the only point in the movie that I felt like I was watching John McClane. That was enjoyable.
One final question...are there people who actually like Kevin Smith?