Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Die Hard. Again. And Again. And Again. (Part 2)

Here's the second part of my Die Hard reviews. The first part is here. Five years after the second Die Hard was released, a third installment came out. Then it'd be another 12 years before we'd see anything Die Hard related in the cinemas. How did they keep a franchise going despite the massive gap in time? How did they adjust? Lets have a look, starting with Die Hard: With A Vengeance.

John McClane, (Willis) now almost a full-blown alcoholic, is on suspension from the NYPD. However, when a bomb goes off in a department store and the police are stuck for answers, a mysterious man named Simon (Jeremy Irons/ Graham Greene) phones and asks for McClane. He states that if the police want answers, McClane has to complete the tasks Simon tells him to. Task one: Wearing a rather offensive sign in the rough part of town. Fortunately for McClane, Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) steps in to protect him from a group of thugs. Not so fortunately for Zeus, this means he is now involved in Simon's games. Simon gets McClane and Zeus to run around town trying to stop bombs that he has rigged. However, Simon is planning a little more than he's letting on.

Both McClane and Zeus were extremely suspicious of the phone.
Despite being an alcoholic, being suspended and having not spoken to his wife, McClane continues to prove how cool he really is. By adopting a slightly more I-don't-care attitude, Willis provides a better performance than his second outing as the character. He brings the same wit and bad ass-ness that he's brought for the first two movies but this time they it comes with a fresh dowsing of pessimism. However, the stand out  performance of the movie comes from Samuel Jackson as Zeus. Continuing Die Hard's theme of having a handy black sidekick is presented with a twist this time around. Zeus is strong willed, sassy and powerful. He's very funny, if not very racist. The antagonists, Jeremy Irons and Graham Greene are superbly dark and smart. Their plots provide more twists than either of the first two movies and they create such a tense atmosphere which makes the film extremely exciting.

The Die Hard science begins to get a little bit out of control in this movie. There's ridiculously high and yet survivable falls, surfing on giant dump trucks, and goons with even worse aim than ever before.  But all of this only helps to make the movie all the more fun to watch. My least favourite aspect of the movie is not the slowly sinking realism but the incredibly annoying choice of music. Throughout dramatic moments of the movie, we are treated to an instrumental version of 'The animals went in two by two hurrah hurrah'. (Technically known as When Johnny Comes Marching Home). Something about it doesn't fit.

Overall, another good movie. Not as good as the first, slightly better than the second. Good fun and definitely worth a watch.

Best Bit? Personally, I have a soft spot for the dump truck chase in an underground system of water tunnels.

And finally we come to the fourth and (currently) the final installment in the series: Die Hard 4.0 (Or Live Free Or Die Hard)

So the plot of the last movie is slightly more nerdy than the others. This time, the terrorists are hackers and they're developing a system that can systematically shut down the entirety of the United States, one bit at a time. McClane (Willis) gets involved after he is sent to bring internet hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to Washington. Soon after he arrives at Matt's apartment though, unknown assailents begin shooting at Matt and McClane. After getting him out safely, McClane turns to Matt to gain some insight from his hacking knowledge and together they plan to bring down mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his assistant Mai Linh (Maggie Q). Unfortunately for McClane (and in some ways, fortunate for Farrell), Lucy Gennaro McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), John's daughter, gets caught up the whole ordeal and despite her disliking of her father and his attitudes to things, she relies and trusts in him to stop the terrorists.

Thomas Gabriel never understood the idea of
 going on a date and showing one's guns.

In the twelve years that John was absent from our cinema screens, a lot changed in his life. He lost all his hair, stopped talking to his ex wife and daughters, became a much angrier and older man. Willis continues to develop and adapt the character we've grown to love but still sticks to his roots. The years have aged him, and he shows us that. Also a brilliant performance from Justin Long. Admittedly it's a role that he plays more than any other, the awkward nerdy teenager. But the contrast between Willis and Long is so perfect it makes the movie great fun to watch.

Die Hard science goes to a whole new level in this movie. Death seems to become a thing of the past, or at least all of the characters have developed super strength. Cars are driven into helicopters, people are run over but able to continue fighting and fighter jets will destroy half a city on a very vague order.  However, being a more modern movie, the special effects, camera work, and general appearance of the entire film is a league above the other three movies. Probably the most silly out of all four movies but also one of the easiest to watch. There's lots of action and lots of explosions to keep your eyes busy.

In my personal opinion it's the weakest of the four films but compared to a lot of action films released nowadays, it's still of a better quality. It's fun and it's everything we love from Die Hard, if not a bit more exaggerated and silly.

Best Bit? The fight scene between Mai Linh, John McClane, and Matt Farrell. A whole new level of fight scene with use of cars, elevator shafts and a combination of them both. Or extremely tense tunnel scene when cars are flying all over the place.

A great set of movies. All worth a watch. And don't forget, yippee ki-yay, motherfuckers.

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