Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Die Hard 4.0

Bruce Willis banks another pay check when he returns as Detective John McClane as the Die Hard franchise is given a techno-thriller reboot.

Hollywood’s finest vest wearing action hero crashes through a series of increasingly improbable sequences in a bid to prevent criminals bringing down the US’s computer systems. Oh, and he needs to rescue his daughter as well.

Whilst escorting Justin Long the irritating comic foil who accompanies Willis throughout the film, the car they’re travelling in is attacked by a helicopter. They flee into a tunnel, however, Timothy Olyphant’s dastardly villain uses his internet mastery to create traffic havoc in the tunnel.

After several near death experiences from crashing cars a riled Willis climbs into a car and guns it towards the tunnel entrance where the helicopter is waiting to finish him off. As the car approaches the entrance Willis jumps clear of the car which then hits part of the road’s central reservation causing it to fly into the air and crash into the helicopter destroying it.

A breathless Justin Long arrives and tells Willis: “You just killed a helicopter with a car.”
“I was out of bullets.” Quips Willis.


An unusual helicopter explosion which seemingly crops up out of nowhere.

Artistic merit
Director Len Wiseman keeps it simple. The helicopter blows up amidst a conventional explosion. What imagination has been brought to the scene is contributed by the method of destruction.

Exploding helicopter innovationThere’s possibly two noteworthy elements to this helicopter explosion. It could be the first time a car has been used as an improvised missile – I’m struggling to think of another example.

There is also a rare escape from the exploding helicopter. The chopper’s machine gunner spots the danger from the flying car and jumps from the helicopter which is hovering at low altitude. His fall is broken by another vehicle which must be made of blancmange as the gunner escapes unharmed.

Relevance to plot
The chopper’s presence is justified by the plot. Part of the villain’s plan is to create traffic grid lock in the city. Clearly the villains have planned effectively and made sure that they have suitable transport to remain mobile.


There’s a genuine element of surprise in this scene. There’s a pleasing bludgeoning simplicity to the helicopter’s destruction. A bit like smashing an over-ripe watermelon.

Nice use of a post exploding helicopter one-liner.


The excitement and surprise of the scene though cannot disguise its complete ridiculousness. How does the car continue to race forward with no-one at the wheel or on the accelerator? And how could Willis possibly have worked out the perfect speed and angle needed to launch the car at the chopper? Is he a professor of theoretical physics?

Review by: Jafo

Still want more? Then listen to the Exploding Helicopter podcast episode on Die Hard 4. Listen or download the show from iTunes, Podomatic, YourListen or Stitcher