John Reviews Die Hard 4

Die-Hard-4-ReviewThe Die Hard franchise ranks right up there with Indiana Jones as the greatest action/adventure franchises of all time. The characters have become iconic, the action the standard for which other action films are measured, and in a recent Entertainment Weekly the first Die Hard was proclaimed as the greatest action film of all time. Those my friends, are HUGE shoes to fill.

So here comes along Die Hard 4 (The official title is Live Free or Die Hard, but since that is a monumentally stupid title, I just refer to it as Die Hard 4). The film has had online fans a bit put off for a couple of reasons. First was the announcement that Len Wiseman (The Underworld films) was going to direct. Personally, I thought this was a nice move… but the majority of people hated it. The next big outrage was when it was announced the film was getting a PG-13 rating. I maintained this was no big deal… but many others thought it instantly ruined the film before even seeing it. Many actaually vowed to never watch it due to the lower rating.


It’s great seeing Bruce Willis back. I will admit that I was quite concerned about the believability of a 52 year of Willis pulling off all the action of a Die Hard film, but he really did it. He and Wiseman made you believe that the Bad Ass John McLane was back in charge and taking names. Willis’s pure wit and charisma haven’t faded one ounce. He made me believe he is still the quintessential action hero.

The humor. Humor in action films can be a tricky thing. Most of the time it can come across as lame and just make you roll your eyes. The humor in the Die Hard films has always been one of the aspects that made it special, and Die Hard 4 (while not quite as funny as the previous films) pulls it off. There were several funny moments that had me still mildly giggling a good full minute after the joke was done. When humor is done well with action that is done right… the results are normally pretty entertaining.

The Action. A lot of people thought the action in Die hard 4 would be toned WAY down due to the PG-13 rating. I’m happy to say it wasn’t. As a matter of fact, some of the action in this film is far more over the top than in any of the previous films. I’m not saying it was “better” action than the previous ones… just a lot more there in your face. I could have sworn Michael Bay was directing the damn thing. There are some issues I take with a couple of the action scenes (See below), but they sure as hell packed a lot of it in there.

The supporting cast. The small role by Kevin Smith was another thing I was worried about. I was a little afraid Smith as a personality would be too big for the role, and it would pull us out of the movie. Surprisingly, Smith made you forget he was Smith about 30 seconds into it and ended up adding much to the film. Justin Long truly pulled it off! A lot of people were doubtfull that the “I’m a Mac” guy could hold his own standing beside Willis, but you know what…. he played the part beutifully.


Some of the action sequences were SOOOO over the top that it just pulled you out of it. One of the things that have always made the Die Hard action scenes so classic, is the borderline believability. A simple action scene like Bruce having to run across a floor of broken glass ends up being the most heart pounding. In Die Hard 4, they cross that line. There are a couple of major set pieces that were so far fetched, it pulled me out of the movie and made me roll my eyes. That sort of thing is fine for a Sci-Fi flick… but not for Die Hard.

No complaints about the performance of Timothy Olyphant… but this was the weakest of all the Die Hard villains. It’s a hard sell when you’ve got to live up to Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman (The Gruber brothers), two of my all time favorite movie villains. At the end of the day, there just wasn’t anything all that scary or intimidating about Olyphant’s character. The character was serviceable as a bad guy… but with Die Hard films we’ve come to expect a LOT more.

Plot holes. Massive, huge plot holes. Many things that just don’t make sense. An age old movie blunder is to show people doing things with technology or computers that just can’t be done… this film is guilty of that in spades.

Ok… this is my biggest complaint about Die Hard 4. If you changed the name of John McLane to “Benny McFadden”… you wouldn’t have had any thought that this was even a DIe Hard film. There is really no continuity to the other Die Hard films other than a few vague token references. You could have called this film “Super Duper Action Day For Hero Most Nobel To Rise” and it would have been the same movie. That’s not the worst thing in the world… but just for me personally it stood out.


The weakest of the Die Hard films with big plot holes, some silly pace ending action scenes and an unimpressive bad guy still manages to be a pretty damn entertaining summer action flick largely carried by the massive Willis charisma, humor and good supporting cast. The film has its problems, but by the time the credits roll, you walk out having been entertained by a good time at the theaters. On a scale of 1-10, I give Die Hard 4 a 7.5.

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