It’s always about the money.
The Die Hard villains might blow up a whole lot of stuff, appear to be terrorists of various kinds, but at the end of the day, it’s the money they’re after.
That statement is equally applicable to movie producers. If the first movie made money, make a second one. If that made money, make a third. And now the fourth. 4.0, to be precise, since we’re in the digital age and what not. The villains go high-tech, the explosions get bigger, the stakes get higher (from a building to a busy airport to a city to a whole country).
The only thing that remains is John McClane. No matter what happens, he’s always there. He still does things the same way, he still says “Yippie kai-yay, m****rf****r!”, he still finds ways to stay alive and be a smartass. But you know what, it’s reassuring.
Die Hard 4.0 involves a cyber-terrorist who basically plans to shut down all of the United States – anything that runs on power, that is. And make a lot of money in the bargain. The specifics are as yet unclear to me.
The trouble of course is that they cross paths with McClane, who decimates them with that slightly complaining air about himself. “I do the job because someone’s got to do it,” he says at one point to Matt (Justin Long), the hacker who got him into this in the first place.
There’s a nice gallery of supporting actors: Tomothy Olyphant plays the maniacal computer genius who is behind all this, Maggie Q plays his henchwoman and lover and Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays McClane’s daughter, who combines combines her father’s grit and her mother’s exasperation with him in one fairly cute package.
Most action movies dance an entire ballet in that little space between the impossible and the improbable. The good ones manage to do this without appearing entirely implausible. Sure, when you look back on it, you find it absurd that something like this could happen, but not during those few seconds when McClane drives a car towards a pillar and jumps out just in time to have it smash through that pillar, go airborne for a couple of seconds and smash straight into a hovering helicopter with bad guys waiting to kill him.
Here’s the thing: we believe all of this simply because we believe in McClane. He endears himself to us by seeming to not want to do any of it. He’d prefer not to have to outrun fireballs or take on an F16 while driving a trailer. But he’d do it in a pinch, simply because it has to be done.
“That’s what makes you that guy,” says Matt to him at one point.