Who's in It:
Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant
The Basics: Attention-starved tech terrorists (led by Olyphant, doing an imperious, bug-eyed cartoon-villain face) decide to shut down the entire economic and security structures of the United States, causing chaos every time they hit "Enter" on their keyboards. Willis, however, doesn't know much about computers, so he prefers to stop them by crashing a flying car into a helicopter.
What's the Deal? What I love most about this, and movies that steal from it, is that plausibility is dispensed with early on, and there's never such thing as Too Much when it comes to piling on the threat or destroying property. It's like, "Oh, I'm dangling over a pit of molten metal? And you're shooting at me with a machine gun while I dangle? Well, check this out: I just happen to be dangling in the exact spot where the secret lever that releases liquid nitrogen lives! Now it is you who are doomed!" That's what I came to see, and that's what I got, and now I'm happy. (No, that example isn't actually in the movie.)
One Beef: It's a limit-pushing PG-13. And you can tell if you look carefully, because they clearly shot an R-rated and then chopped out all the bullets to the head and did some sloppy voice rerecording to clean up all the F-bombs. And in any other movie that wouldn't matter so much, but this is a Die Hard movie. You can only truly die hard when something is rated R. Worst of all and this does, in fact, count as a spoiler there's no "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf----r." He says it, and it gets bleeped with noise. HOW CAN YOU HAVE A DIE HARD MOVIE AND CUT OFF THAT CHARACTER-ESTABLISHING WORD? Like you needed more evidence of studio greed and soullessness, but there it is anyway. Now you can bring your four-year-old to see it.
Confounding Subtexts: Any attempt to frame it in a political way will fail, because it stomps all over both sides of the fence. It's from Fox, but the government is made to look foolish. It treats Long's greasy-hacker-who's-seen-Manufacturing Consent like a dope because, you know, the terrorists really are living next door, and we're all going to die. Later on, FEMA and Katrina are referenced. It throws all sorts of little signs at you (flag-waving TV news channel WGWB pops up), and then runs away laughing, kind of daring you to make more out of it than it wants you to. That's because it's really only about things getting blown up and destroyed.
Who You Think Is Going to Ruin the Movie With His Jedi Nerditude but Ends Up Being Kind of Right for It: Kevin Smith.