Even after 19 years, and all the set pieces, stunts and special effects that have come and gone in between, the original 'Die Hard' still ranks among the best. Along with 1987's 'Lethal Weapon', 'Die Hard' redefined the action movie genre - giving Bruce Willis his big screen career and most famous role in the process. The two films' gags-and-guns template has been copied countless times since but, unlike 'Lethal Weapon', 'Die Hard' fared better in the sequel stakes. And Willis' haircut from the first one has dated better than Gibson's mullet.
So the news that Willis would roll back the years and play John McClane once again was greeted with more excitement than if Gibson had decided to make 'Lethal Weapon V'. But, 12 years on from his last McClane adventure, would Willis still be able to cut it and rough it as an action hero? Would Len Wiseman measure up to the directors of the first three films, John McTiernan ('Die Hards 1 & 3') and Renny Harlin ('Die Hard 2')? Would the white vest have another renaissance?
Still a cop, McClane is grumpier and world wearier than ever, worrying more about the boyfriends of his teenage daughter Lucy (Winstead) than anything that may arise in the line of duty. But what seems like a routine call to pick up a computer-hacker (Long) turns out to be anything but. And soon McClane and his young suspect are in the middle of mayhem, racing against time to stop the US sliding into anarchy.
The good news is that 'Die Hard 4.0' is the most entertaining blockbuster so far this summer - fun, furious and as ridiculously over-the-top as you wished for.
Coming to the franchise from 'Underworld' and its sequel, director Wiseman gets many things right here. His action scenes are old school crash, bang, wallop rather than CGI; he helps make Willis and Long a good double act and, after a few dud shoot-'em-ups since 1995's 'Die Hard 3', Wiseman gets a great tough guy performance from his 51-year-old leading man.
But 'Die Hard 4.0' could have been better, and it falls down because the disappointments are areas that were handled so well in the previous movies. Olyphant's villain lacks the menace and charisma of Alan Rickman or Jeremy Irons - you'll wonder if sidekick Maggie Q would have made a better main baddie. Questions also arise as to why there weren't even more one-liners and comedy between Willis and Long; why Wiseman decided to use the most spectacular scene 10 minutes before the actual finale and why the white vest doesn't get a look-in. Had these been addressed, this was an action movie that would be as good on the 20th viewing as the first.
There's still enough here for you to consume popcorn by the trough, and if your expectations were low you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's a Yippee-ki rather than a Yippee-ki-yay... kind of movie, but damn if you won't be wondering if anyone else could look as cool bald the whole way home.
Back on screens as maverick hero John McClane in 'Die Hard 4.0', Bruce Willis talks stunts and sequels here.