Thursday, July 05, 2007

Yippee-ki-yay, Mofo...

If there is one thing I hate more than the constant glut of unoriginal remakes and sequels, it’s ageing actors deciding to reprise a famous role 10+ years after their previous stint. We’ve had Rocky and next year sees Rambo and Indiana Jones return to our screens. Stallone is 61 tomorrow, Ford is 65 next week. I hope I’m capable of taking on the entire Soviet military when I’m in my 60s! Go Rambo… Go!

Which brings me to Mister Bruce Willis. At only 52 he could be jumping from helicopters and shouting Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker for another decade or so yet, and if Die Hard 4 is anything to go by, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Let me say this, this movie is not a patch on the first Die Hard. Not even close. Yet I still left the cinema with a huge smile on my face, content in the knowledge that it is possible for an ageing actor to return to his most famous role without ruining my memories.

The plot is woeful. In fact it got me wondering what the studio exec meeting must have been like. Something like this?

Evil Exec 1: Mr Willis. Want to do another Die Hard?
Bruce: Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker
Evil Exec 2: That’s great. Now we realise you’re old…

Bruce dropkicks Evil Exec 2 through the window.

Bruce: Welcome to the party pal!
Evil Exec 3: Anyway, we thought we could do a movie that plays on the fact you are past it.

Bruce fires a ball point pen straight through the heart of Evil Exec 3.

Bruce: Take *that* under advisement, jerkweed.
Evil Exec 1: The point is, that we wanna make a movie in which your more traditional ball-busting skills have to take on some, what we in the biz like to call ‘cyber’ terrorists.
Bruce: Cyber terrorists? Who gives a shit about Cyber terrorists? Who the fuck is this?
Evil Exec 4: It would be a movie about an enemy that uses computers against the World. And by the World we mean the USA! USA! USA!
Evil Exec 1: Better still we could have the ‘cyber’ terrorists attack on Independence Day. It would be symbolic.
Evil Exec 4: Plus we could throw in loads of your old lines, make constant references to the fact you are old and instead of having your wife pissed off with you… Why not your grown up daughter?

Bruce strangles Evil Exec 4 using a shoe lace between his teeth.

Evil Exec 1: You see we have to be bigger and better than before. In Die Hard 1 you saved a building full of people. In Die Hard 2 you saved an airport and a whole load of planes. In Die Hard 3 it was a whole city. This time… this time Bruce, you’ll save the whole fucking country.
Bruce: How can the same shit happen to the same guy 4 times?
Evil Exec 1: You’re the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time Bruce. It’s what you do best.
Bruce: Story of my life.

The plot really is that basic. But in a way, that’s what gives this movie its charm. The bad guys motives (which are ludicrous beyond belief) aren’t important and neither really are his actions. What matters is riding shotgun with Bruce as he kills people in spectacular fashion.

There are some nice touches. McClanes view on heroism and how it has treated him in life is quite poignant. But this ain’t no touchy feely movie. This is about men (and occasionally women, but mainly men) killing every motherfucking thing around them. GRRR!

The villain ( Timothy Olyphant) does his job without ever being spectacular. Truth is it’s really hard to follow the likes of Alan Rickman, but he hams it up nicely.

McClanes sidekick is Dodgeballs and Galaxy Quests likable nerd Justin Long. Unsurprisingly, he plays a cyber-nerd who is the only hacker left who can beat the big bad. Add in a rather comical cameo by Kevin Smith as the Yoda-esque cyber-sage called Warlock and you’ve got the makings of a disaster.

And yet, this was one of the most enjoyable films I’ve watched all year. The action is spectacular and if I have a criticism it’s that, in an effort to be bigger and better Die Hard 4 goes way way way OTT. While Die Hard stretched the boundaries of what was believable, the stunts were still realistic; a fit guy actually could do those things. Here, McClane becomes a little less like the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time and a little more like Jack Bauer; an indestructible superhero. But hey, it’s not a major gripe, and thankfully he’s nowhere near as annoying as SuperBauer!

I think the secret of Die Hard 4 being successful is that it follows the pattern laid down by Terminator 3. Everyone knows that Bruce is a bit too old to be doing this. And so the makers have given us a movie that takes the piss out of itself. It is not serious, and it’s completely OTT, hence the reason for having a plot with more holes in it colander. McClane should have died 5 times over before the first hour is up, but he doesn’t. Why? Because it’s Die Hard!

Great fun and totally recommended if you want a film that is pure brawn and zero brains. Let’s just hope they don’t make another one!

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