|as an entertaining piece of Friday-night fun and action
|Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Cyril Raffaelli, Jonathan Sadowski, Kevin Smith, Maggie Quigley, Tim Russ, Timothy Olyphant, Yancey Arias
|4th July 2007
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) has had yet another falling out with his cantankerous estranged teenaged daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). While driving around on the night shift to try to cool off, he gets a call for what should – but obviously won’t – be a simple job: someone’s been hacking into the FBI’s computers and the bureau’s rounding up all the usual suspects – and one of the computer geeks, Matt (Justin Long), is based near enough to McLane to send him.
Talking his way in to Matt’s flat is easy enough – shooting his way back out again is a bit tougher, when mysterious gunmen on neighbouring roofs start raining bullets down on them from across the street.
It’s all in a day’s work for McLane, who – as we all know – has already saved the world from terrorists three times.
This time, the method being used to destroy the world is cyber-terrorism, under the auspices of hard-done-by former government techie Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) – combined with a bit of good old-fashioned kung-fu and heavy firepower.
And the method being used to try to save the world is McLane’s typical blend of wry humour, wild stunts and crazy weaponry.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
There’s no denying the fact that this is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the rejuvenated franchise.
McLane is still the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he still seems to emerge worse off than most of the bad guys – apart from his cheeky grin. Perhaps the oddest thing is that all these years after his last appearance, he doesn’t even seem too old to be saving the world, with the help only of a couple of computer nerds.
That’s not to say it’s a good piece of grown-up film-making, of course.
The plot is about as corny as they come, with many obvious and predictable moments. While it’s pretty solid for most of the first hour and a half, it starts to tail away towards the end – it’s full of contrivances, such as a character whose legs are crushed against a wall by a car, immediately climbing up a lift-shaft and launching karate kicks at our unsuspecting hero – and then there’s the apparently instantaneous teleporting between major east coast cities.
The motives of the bad guy aren’t entirely convincing, either. The film can’t seem to decide whether he’s the typical comic-book baddie – a wronged character, hell-bent on global destruction to exact his dastardly revenge on the world – or just a clever thief with a bit of attitude.
But it’s shameless fun – with good chemistry between Willis and Long and well-pitched humour.
And two action sequences in particular – while being about as far from reality as you could imagine, were among the most thrilling examples of cinema I’ve seen for years.
This is a film about fun and action, not about plot and character, but you can tell that much from the title. So as a serious piece of film-making, forget about it – but as a piece of Friday-night, post-pub Die Hard entertainment, it won’t disappoint.