Monday, July 23, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

Willis and Long in
Live Free or Die

The fourth and last of the Die Hard movies has at last arrived. The quadruplogy has always been a much-loved guys movie, filled with Bruce Willis’ character, John McClane, who’s just a regular Joe Schmo cop trying to save his family from the latest terrorist threat. The wisecracking Willis, his macho/family-man character, and his signature yippekayay have become representative of the American action hero. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Live Free is a sequel worthy of the classic series.

This summer’s blockbusters have so far all featured the return of a much-loved character. The same is true of Live Free or Die Hard, in which John McClane is back with a slew of new comebacks. Willis is at last unabashedly bald in this action flick with not much of a plot, but with plenty of kickbutt stunts that totally make up for it.

Cyber-terrorist, Thomas Gabriel, is a hacker with a mission: destroy the U.S. of A., just to prove he can. His plan is to take out all of America’s technology- communications, utilities, etc, and to create chaos in general everywhere. He gets several other hackers to help him and then has them killed to cover his tracks. Meanwhile, John McClane (Willis) has been sent to retrieve the only hacker still left alive, Matt Farrell (who is played by the endearing Justin Long. Aka “the Mac guy”.) McClane must keep the young hacker alive, in spite of many evil henchmen’s best efforts, because he holds the key to saving the world.

Live Free has plenty of redeeming qualities to make up for the imperfect plot. For one, it’s incredibly, and I mean incredibly, entertaining. McClane runs around shooting up bad guys, dodging flaming cars, and blowing up helicopters, I mean come on, it can’t get much better than that. Countless explosions and ridiculous stunts have a way of retaining their entertaining value.

Willis gives a great performance, and expresses his BA-ness whenever he gets the chance. However, Justin Long very nearly steals Willis’ movie right from under him. His skittish hacker/anti-hero character is beautifully played. Many, many kudos to Long. In addition to these performances, Kevin Smith makes a humorous appearance, and Olyphant’s portrayal of Gabriel is well-done.

Although some of the stunts, like McClane wrestling a fighter jet may represent totally unneeded idiocy, they are nonetheless amusing. The film is filled with political messages on everything from national security to Iraq and terrorism. A must-see summer movie for any fan of old westerns of John McClane’s previous adventures. Be sure you can handle the violence and constant profanity.

Conclusion: The explosions are too cool to miss and the political messages easy enough to forget.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation.


  • On the traffic monitoring screens showing the created traffic jam ups, some reused footage (armored car turning) from the Italian Job (2003) can be seen.
  • The French title translates as "Die Hard 4.0: Return to Hell".

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