"Live Free or Die Hard"
Directed by Len Wiseman ("Underworld"
Written by Mark Bomback. Story based on an article by John
Carlin; lead character based on a character from the novel "Nothing
Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp.
Starring Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant and Maggie
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 6/30/07
It is safe to say that between "Die Hard",
"Die Hard 2" and "Die Hard with a Vengeance", I've watching Bruce
Willis play John McClane in over a hundred viewings of the three
previous adventures. Love them all. If pressed, I might
say that "Die Hard 2" is the best in terms of action, but "Die Hard"
is better from a character perspective (maybe the best characters
ever written/played in an pure action film); "Die Hard with a
Vengeance" is a truly great movie tied to the fact that McClane
doesn't even shoot anybody for the first hour of the film as he runs
around New York City trying to diffuse mini-bombs and answering
phones. Somebody thought that would work and it does, right up
until a really shitty, letdown ending that had me saying at the time
"John McClane can't go out like this!"
But he did. For a dozen years.
But, in "Live Free or Die Hard", we get a movie that never quite
delivers on the McClane angle (from a character perspective) but
gets back to the roots of "Die Hard 2" a bit by providing a sheer
action rush--occasionally fueled by a nice adrenaline high--and much
of the absolute ridiculosity that has made the series such a blast.
The plot is ridiculous so there's no sense in covering it, but what
is important is that John McClane (Willis) is still a cop in NYC,
and while out in New Jersey tracking down his
now-distant-emotionally daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he gets
a call to pick up a rogue hacker (Justin Long) who is wanted by the
government. From there, a lot of people have to die while
McClane and the hacker make their way from Jersey to DC to West
Virginia to Baltimore to...Woodlawn, Maryland as McClane tries to
stop a former information security expert-turned-killer (Timothy
I went to see this on opening night with
eight other people, and we were kind of a mixed bag on what we
thought; a number of folks thought the action was even more
ridiculous than they expected it to be, and most of us agreed that
Olyphant's baddie is certainly not Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber from
the first "Die Hard" film. Due to a PG-13 rating, "Live Free
or Die Hard" isn't nearly as profane as any of the other films,
which is one of its major failings...save for occasionally calling
someone a "jerk-off"--the staple of the McClane vocabulary--Willis'
on-screen creation is kept to mostly snide cackles after he offs
each successive bad guy. This fourth "Die Hard" film is also
much less bloody, which is also too bad--the series' violence is
what makes it what it is.
Now, all of that being said, I had a great
time watching "Live Free or Die Hard." From a
stupidly-ridiculous standpoint, the action set-pieces here are not
NEARLY as stupidly ridiculous as any of the following moments from
the first three films:
Having a bad guy survive
strangulation-by-chain-link noose AND a rooftop explosion to try
and take out McClane at the end of the first "Die Hard" when he
reaches street level;
McClane blowing up an airplane by
lighting a trail of gasoline...and, oh yeah, the plane was
already IN THE AIR;
Being drowned, blown out of an air duct
100 feet into the air and then shoved into a car, only to spin
that car out of control--while driving--to shoot a bad guy three
times in the face in another moving car on a rain-soaked road in
the third "Die Hard"
Of course, all of these moments were
awesome, and in this fourth iteration, watching McClane have the
consensus "True Lies" moment when he jumps onto a jet that is about
to crash, then jump down a just-destroyed off-ramp while plane
wreckage is flying all around him, then takes a few minutes to brush
himself off before shooting another half-dozen bad guys...none of
this even remotely made me angry. Nor did watching him take
out an enemy chopper with a moving car propelled off of a cement
ramp. Nor did watching him get shot at for the majority of
this 130-minute film and only get hit a couple of times. This
is JOHN MCCLANE, people!!!
Is this one as good as any of the first
three films? Nope, not even close. But, as an action
movie, it gets the job done--high body count, cool special effects,
much-toyed-with-realism and Maggie Q (from
who is crazy-hot and is even allowed to whoop that McClane ass a few
times to boot. If they make a fifth one, please rate it "R"
and allow Mr. McClane to drop more f-bombs.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard