Thursday, February 19, 2015


Return journey to and from the old and new Cold War



Do not expect a film that is going to revolutionize your ideology, your spirituality, your religion, or even your political beliefs. It is an action film that is supposed to entertain you and nothing else, and yet…

It starts with some nice Christmas party in some high rise office block in some international super capitalistic business if not corporation. The poor John McLane is coming to Los Angeles from New York to visit his children and wife he has been estranged from for some months with three thousand miles between their two places of residence.

The whole tower block is taken over by some German terrorists just after John McLane has arrived and the whole film will be his action in order to get rid of the terrorists, to save the hostages and to save his own wife.

The film shows how rotten some apples in the basket can be. Even one is able to sell his own colleagues to get a coke in a glass, hardly more. In fact he won’t even be able to drink it because once he has given some leverage to the terrorists they just thank him for the rest of his eternal life.

But what’s best in this film is the action and the visual effects. No digitalized special effects and it looks real, rough, hard. The very good final product is reached thanks to the editing of the film. It makes it so fast that it becomes breath-taking and at times it is hilarious because some of the situations look so hectic, so extreme, and yet they are nothing but an illusion and it is enjoyable.

It is also enjoyable to see LAPD officers, inspectors or whatever they may call them down there being smashed up, the FBI being fooled and ridiculed, the media being unworthy of any trust, and only two little black men coming on top, a plain motorized street cop who manages to raise the alarm and a little black limousine chauffeur who manages to block the escape of the last terrorists. That makes you feel happy and warm in the heart. The little ones are the heroes of the film.


Christmas eve again with John McClane, this time on Dulles airport in Washington DC. This time John McClane is waiting for the arrival of his wife on a plane. But of course everything went wrong, which was to be expected.

The airport was taken over by a band of terrorists who tried to recuperate and liberate a general who had been convicted of some anti-communist crime or something. That is not entirely clear and that does not matter. Of course these terrorists could not succeed in their plan if they did not have come accomplices in the airport and in the armed forces brought in to deal with the situation.

But John McClane is the savior of the day, which is normal on Christmas eve. John once again managed to stop the apocalypse he could not really prevent since he was surprised in it himself, but he also managed to get rid of the beast, the dragon and Babylon at the same time: the liberated general, the chief of the terrorists and the military traitor.

Apart from that the rhythm is quite diabolical, though they kept the panic for the very end. People in that airport were so patient, so enduring, so smiling silent when something was obviously wrong. Thanks to a journalist the bad news was finally aired and the panic could come. We are not told how many casualties.

Pure entertainment based on a very fast rhythm and some kind of humor that is always targeting some kind of officials or uniformed commissioned puppets and generally below the waist if not below the knees, low, low, low anyway. I personally missed one thing: the old church that was to be blown up with tons of plastic of something like that. It did not blow up. Too bad.


We finally move to New York and out of the Yule season. It is still dealing with the Germans we have been dealing with before, that kind of German army trying to conquer the world, or at least some kind of back base for their criminal activities.

It starts like a game and then becomes very bitter and it becomes a real war time operation targeting Fort Knox and their reserves of gold, hundreds of billions of dollars in gold bullions. To get down there without attracting too much attention is a little bit difficult so you have to have one massive explosion that opens the street down to the underground vault.

The rest after that is nothing. John McLane gets some black innocent and neutral partner at the beginning of the game and they will become a good pair of gamesters in full addiction till the real end and finish of the hunt, chase and tracking search. It sure is more suspenseful than the Football Super Bowl. It is also quite spectacular about the damage caused to the urban environment. Crossing Central Park with a car in something like ten minutes at a peak hour late in the morning is quite spectacular.

Of course we know the gangsters will be defeated, the main leader who is the brother of a previous gang leader who was defeated and killed by John McLane, will die defeated and beaten into pureed smithereens. The whole interest of this film is to see how and here there is some inventiveness more than creativity on the side of the plot-writers and scenario-writers.

In this film some digital visual effects (hello Buena Vista) are used and that make the film slightly less rough because digital special effects are smoother, more easy-going, more fluid than standard old fashioned analog special effects. But we are used to that nowadays though it makes the film less impressive.

Just for entertainment of course. This film will not give you some intellectual overload, though with too many of these you might get into some apnea, the suspension of your breathing that could be lethal, due to the lack of cerebral activity.

Enjoy the spiritual and mental relaxation.


We finally had to come to the modern world and computers. This film is so frightening for simple people that it should create a real panic among them. It deals with all the central networks created by our modern society to control govern and command absolutely everything that can be set in some kind of network. The big fear is that when all networks are synchronized and connected one person from one keyboard and central computer will be able to control absolutely everything in life and society. Everyone knows about it. Check Terminator for that.

In Paris they even have some higher education professor, Marcel Gauchet, who explains that in such a society we just need to blow up or paralyze the nodal points of these systems to bring a society to a stand still and thus impose a revolution. No one has been able to find out if that man is using this idea as a menace against society or as a warning to society. Some of his students were even investigated some years ago as having played a role in such an attack on the fast train network in France

But this fear is also lined with another which is a lot older: the fear of machines per se. People are afraid of machines though they use machines everyday, like cars and other means of transportation. Computers are even more frightening than a crashing airplane because all we see on the screen is a whole lot of figures, in fact digits, and we cannot understand what the machine is saying, and it is always saying a lot. We have always been afraid of foreign languages, and computers speak a foreign language.

The third level of fear you can find in our world is the fact that after 9/11 we have put all our valuable data on central computers that are supposed to be hyper protected and they are. The film demonstrates that they cannot be reached from the outside by hackers but can only be reached from the inside that is to say from these giant central computers themselves because they are absolutely isolated from the outside world and their connection with this outside world is absolutely under digitalized secure surveillance. So the hackers who want to prove the vulnerability of that central computer has to penetrate the fort in which it is located. Only a military operation can do that, but that operation is just plainly unimaginable. The human guards can be killed but they can be so connected to the central security that the alert is given as soon as some sensor senses the attack on the body or mind of the guard and then instead of sending two guards as reinforcement a security wall can fall down that can only be opened from the inside.

The system that is shown here, for our entertainment for sure, is super fragile and super UN-protected. It is less protected than a henhouse against foxes. It is as little protected against the infiltration of terrorists as a sieve is ready to retain water. So that makes the fear ludicrous and the entertainment loses all suspense value and all frightening effect.

Of course John McClane has to have a partner and this time it is a young hacker that the terrorists want to kill and that the FBI wants to interrogate. He becomes the digital mind of McClane and McClane is nothing but the brute force, the basic muscle of the operation. The two together are funny in a way since they are so different and one could be the father of the other.

But the film is funny though the digital special effects are so visibly artificial, not even analogue, that they become cinematographic anecdotes. I think these action films have lost something g with the massive shift to digital special effects. They just look unreal and what’s more we recognize the special effect maker and then we recognize a special effect we have already seen in some other films. We may even wonder if they are after all not plainly the same.


After the daughter endangered in the previous and fourth installment of Die Hard, now in the fifth installment we get the son, John McLane Jr., who is the partner of his own father as a CIA agent in Moscow. We had to fall, sooner or later, in the anti-Russian cold war atmosphere. I am afraid though Bourne and Taken do that type of action film a little bit better. Here it is too gross, too thick, too much deconstruction and not enough subtlety.

The two McLanes find themselves on the same mission but from two different agencies, one CIA and the other NYPD, or is it FBI? They have to recuperate a political prisoner who is going to be tried in Moscow for some unclear reason. We all know Russia is a dictatorship. That type of cliché is slightly too schematic to be believable. But it is a lot worse than that. The two American agencies were completely fooled if not bamboozled. The political prisoner is a personal friend of the president of Russia, follow my eyes and read my lips. But he is using both the Americans and the Russian security services to have the president assassinated and to take over.

His daughter is the main in-between triple agent and she succeeds perfectly well. The two McLanes are just following the trend and get completely ridiculed and nearly killed. But they manage to get to the secret abandoned nuclear facility, probably Chernobyl which is not in Russia but in Ukraine, but who cares about the place and name. From Moscow to that place anyway it takes about thirty seconds on the screen, in real time about a couple of hours. Distances are not exactly correct.

There they find the dear father who is pretending to be very sick though he has killed with his daughter quite a few of the Russian secret agents. The supposed report hidden in this place does not exist and then the mission is reduced to killing the triple agents, destroying a helicopter, etc. They do this is in a jiffy and they survive all the mayhem with hardly a scratch. They get out of Russia with no problem whatsoever and they arrive in some American airport where the daughter McLane is waiting for them. We just wonder why they bothered to get involved in what was a purely Russian domestic political game. I guess American security agencies are no longer what they used to be.

Let’s hope there will not be a sequel to that. We have reached the third underground level under well devised action films. Let’s say they were part of the anti-Russian campaign for the Olympic Games. Viva la new era Cold War! I am sure Ron L. Hubbard must be turning in his tomb in total clarity.


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