Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Live Free Or Drive Hard

There's a new full length trailer out for the brilliantly titled Live Free or Die Hard, or Die Hard 4.0, as it's called in less fortunate countries around the world. Click here for a nice clear Quicktime version. It's definitely better than the paltry teaser, but the money shot is still Willis and Long ducking between two cars as a third hurtles at them. Incidentally, I think this trailer may feature more cars being tossed in the air than any other trailer in film history.

Here is what we can see:

- There is a set piece in which McClane drives a police car and is attacked by a guy in a helicopter, before diving out of the car and launching it through a toll booth into the helicopter, destroying it.

- There is another set piece in which McClane climbs onto a truck, tosses out the driver, and crashes through traffic as a fighter jet attacks him and destroys a freeway. Somehow McClane jumps on top of the jet, then jumps off the jet from an impossible height down to the ruined freeway, sliding out of range just as the exploding jet falls on the freeway behind him.

- McClane's daughter from the first movie has grown up and been taken hostage. She looked about 4 in 1988, so why does she look about 16 now?

- The usually engaging Timothy Olyphant is a bland, clean-cut villain with no discernible distinguishing qualities. What, no German accents this time? How do we know he's evil? I hope there is more to this character than what we see here. Hapa hottie Maggie Q from M:i:iii looks to be on the evil side too, and pays for it with a ride on McClane's hood.

- Kevin Smith is in it? What the fuck?! And he has one of those stupid command centers with all the screens like people only have in movies even though it's his own amateur setup in his massive basement. Somehow the corny flashes of computer screens and their animated layers of unreadable code pointlessly watermarked on top of maps as circles spin for no reason takes me out of the movie's reality more than ten flying cars.

Anyway, the action and stunts here are pretty spectacular, and all the car stuff is clear and high-energy. But why does the trailer as a whole make the movie feel so generic?

As I've said before, I didn't mind that Die Hard With a Vengeance abandoned the claustrophobic feel of the franchise. Die Hard 2 tried to replicate the claustrophobia with such poor results that it only made sense to go the other direction. This sequel takes that one step further--McClane saves America! That, I'm fine with. I don't think that's the issue with this trailer.

The problem, I think, is that there's no emphasis on character. the trailer trusts us to recognize McClane as an iconic action hero, but offers very little of what makes him distinctive. The fun of McClane is his put-upon attitude. Yeah, yeah, he dies hard, he never gives up, but the fun part is that, like a normal person, he'd rather be somewhere else. As an unusually perceptive YouTube commenter pointed out, McClane here is all swagger, and that's only half the character.

More importantly, this trailer still tells us very little about what the hell the movie's about--if you know it's about a hacker attack on America's infrastructure, it's not because the trailer told you--and it neglects to answer the most nagging question: What does it have to do with McClane? He's a reluctant hero, in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was at the skyscraper and the airport because of his wife. In the third movie, he was forced into it by a villain bent on revenge. So when there's a nationwide crisis, why is that the job of some New York cop? (Yeah, they take his daughter, but that appears to be after he gets in their way.) With only a vague sense of plot and character, there's no meaningful context for all the action we're seeing.

So does McClane really spend the entire movie driving?



Steve said...

If they want to make a Die Hard movie, they should make a Die Hard movie. If they want to make a Transporter movie, they should make a Transporter movie. But mixing them just doesn't work.

lyan! said...

I always liked the die hard franchise. Though it's changed somewhat since Bruce Willis looks like my dad, so now, I watch these movies and see my dad saving the world. It's cute, but it's also weird.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing they just couldn't put the words "Yippee Ki-ay, Motherfucker" in the trailer.