Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Time didn’t need to be any kinder to the Die Hard franchise than it has been to Bruce Willis’s hairline. On its face, No. 4 seemed to have little going for it — an aging star scraping for a hit, arriving 12 years after No. 3, a PG-13 rating in an R-rated series.
With only a moderate dip among swear words and blood squibs, 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard included, among its collateral damage, the relevance of the MPAA. Len Wiseman’s ratcheted movie charged hard and crunched bones with a gleeful sense of hellacious stunts and thrills.
Here, uber-cop John McClane (Willis) battles a group of techno-terrorists. (As their pretty leader, Timothy Olyphant disappointingly drums up not much more menace than a metrosexual out of exfoliant.)
Crackers are jacked during three thrilling scenes in particular — a brutal slugfest with henchwoman Maggie Q that takes its toll on an elevator shaft, traffic rocketing both ways at Willis and sidekick Justin Long in a darkened D.C. tunnel, and a semi-versus-fighter-jet battle underneath a collapsing freeway. Given the movie’s overall old-school ethos, that last bit forgivably forayed into computer-generated effects.
People tend to forget about McClane’s character quirks and ticks amid action in these films, and Willis used his age to show the personal toll of momentary heroism. His last act placed a perfect character-driven mute over the cacophony that came before it. McClane might not have verbalized it quite as he has in the past, but his yippie-ki-yay was still alive.