Just as Entertainment Weekly picks the 1988 Die Hard as the greatest action movie of all time, Bruce Willis comma-ti-yi-yippies it up again for NYPD’s John McClane’s fourth explosion-and-wisecrack-fest. Number three is still my favorite, but this latest installment has all the essentials: over-the-top money-shot stunts (even a few that weren’t in the trailer), juicy banter, a world’s-at-stake-and-only-one-man-can-save-us storyline dire enough to explain the action without being too complicated to get in its way, and a lot of stuff that gets blown up.
Once again, McClane gets drawn into a very big mess that the bureaucrats can’t handle. He is asked to pick up a Matt, a young hacker (Justin Long of the Mac commercials) and bring him to Washington. But it turns out that the bad guys want Matt, too. He was one of several hackers who unknowingly assisted the bad guys in setting up the biggest computer meltdown of all time and they want him out of the picture. McClane rescues Matt and from then on they are pretty much getting chased or shot at or chasing or shooting at someone for the rest of the movie.
Willis and Long have great chemistry and work the old school/new school angle with relish. They have different but highly complementary natural rhythms that put just the right understaded snarky spin on smartass commentary.
The script keeps things lively with a variety of locations and characters, though Timothy Olyphant is on the bland side as the head bad guy. And the stunts are everything popcorn movies are all about.
Parents should know that the fourth “Die Hard” movie is the first in the series not to be rated R, but it is as close to an R as the MPAA would allow, with extensive, intense, and graphic peril and “action” violence, explosions, shooting, crashes, missiles, many deaths, reference to medicinal morphine, some strong language, and a college-age couple making out (with the girl setting some firm limits). Characters use some strong language.
Families who see this movie should talk about what it means to be “that guy.” How have these movies changed over the years?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the previous Die Hard movies, True Lies, and Enemy of the State (all rated R), and “Independence Day” (middle schoolers and up).