This Valentine's Day there's a blockbusting new movie at the UK's cinemas. Die Hard 5 is about to be released and fans of Bruce Willis' skyscraper-trashing airport-assaulting capital-melting cyber-terrorising series are at Vest-Con 1 in readiness. For that matter, which of us is immune to the grumpy charms of Willis' worn-down stubborn-as-a-semi-automatic-toting-mule John McClane? Not me. Escapist fun doesn't come more accessible. But there's escapism, and then there's leaping over fences on a motorbike. No-one's asking for the kind of realism that would see at least one episode of each series of 24 consist solely of Kiefer reading the paper on the bog while smoking a ciggie and scratching. But Die Hard 4.0's connection with reality had broken loose and run off with the circus. Just in case you'd forgotten, and to prepare you for what's to come on the 14th, here's a sample of just what was so ridiculous about Die Hard 4.0.
Cyberterrorists have no better way of bumping off the hackers-under-contract they got to write their civilisation-threatening code than by planting a bomb inside their computer which blows up when they hit the delete key. But just in case that doesn't work, a busful of assassins wait right outside to devastate the whole neighbourhood with more ordnance than Douglas MacArthur would shakedown an atoll with. Undercover and secretive these guys are not.
"Bring up the schematic of that tunnel" says chief bad guy. And his stooge does just that. Hey, they can do anything, right? In fact they are following someone through the real world, with a finite but enormous number of installations, infrastructure and systems. The people on the control desk of that tunnel couldn't access that schematic so quickly. Our black hats wouldn't know where to start.
Knocking a sniper out of a flying helicopter by driving your car over a fire hydrant at just the right moment. Destroying said chopper mid-air by driving the car up a ramp at it. Leaping onto the wings of a stricken jumpjet as a method of reaching the ground safely. All these things are possible if you are John McClane. CGI has a lot to answer for.
On entering a huge electrical power station, McClane and his hacker chum pass the requisite scaffolding, ancient dials and rusty pipes. Then they're confronted by a 200-inch touchscreen with a map of the facility. "Where's the control room?" Tap tap. Swipe. "Floor 4!" What do they think this place is, a shopping mall? Presumably, this map is there, in the corridor, to help passing workers who've suddenly forgotten the quickest route to their car when the hooter goes. I've worked in power stations and you're lucky if there's a lightbulb in most of the rooms.
We are never told what kind of Terminator the Queen of the baddies is. But assuming she's human, you'd expect her to be dead after sustaining a savage beating from McClane. Then being knocked over by a small truck and rammed into a wall by it. Then falling down a lift shaft. But no, she is unharmed apart from aesthetically pleasing scratches and is even able to rejoin battle for a while. It's almost surprising when she dies by dint of the car exploding on top of her at the bottom of the shaft. Rasputin, famously difficult to murder, has nothing on this gal.
In revenge, our villain diverts "every cubic foot of natural gas" in the system to the power station inhabited by McClane and his geeky sidekick. Cue shots of fireballs shooting up the inside of pipes as our heroes leave in the nick of time before the entire place goes up in an inferno. I have news for you, Hollywood. The gas isn't ignited in the pipes, not until it reaches the turbine, for well-documented reasons of safety and the utter pointlessness of the entire process if it was designed that way. Send all the gas? Send all the water to the toilets too while you're on. See if I care.
The supercomputers at the most high-security computer facility in the western world have unsecured USB ports. Try using a pen drive in a desktop in a branch of a high street bank and see how you get on. While we're on the subject, would wiping all the data there, an aggregated copy of all the financial systems' data, really send the US "back to the stone age" as is suggested? No, no it wouldn't. It's a copy. No one would even notice. If the overall plan was to steal some bank details, I'd suggest they went to too much trouble. Phone most people up and they'll happily tell you anything you want to know.
"Can you connect me to the pilot of that fighter plane up there above us?" "From the back of this truck, why yes!" Nothing could be simpler. Apparently the pilot is just as simple, because a random voice in his earphones tells him to blow up a truck driving along below him, apropos of nothing, and he does it.
So there it is, I'll be enjoying the new flick with the rest of you. Just remember not to try anything you see at home. Not unless you want to look really stupid anyway.