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Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

June. 27,2007
| Action Thriller

John McClane is back and badder than ever, and this time he's working for Homeland Security. He calls on the services of a young hacker in his bid to stop a ring of Internet terrorists intent on taking control of America's computer infrastructure.


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This movie went to the future and back too. The action is bad a$$. The computer stuff made it up to date. Him wanting to save his bad a$$ daughter was great. Everything was great, but one thing. The bad guy. He's not really a bad guy like in the other Die Hards. Still I liked it better than 2 and 3.


I don't think any of the 'Die Hard' sequels can top the first. But this comes close. I never wanted to leave, look away, or take a break from watching. Bruce Willis only gets sexier with age. Justin Long only gets more polite and wide-eyed at the wonder of it all. Together, they make a great pair. The viewer is taken on a wild ride that really centers on one area: Washington, D.C. But within that area, there are trips up and down so many shafts (elevator and other), across airplanes in flight, hanging and climbing various ropes and cables, sliding away from numerous explosions, the action has to be quite inventive to keep the viewer from saying, 'Really? Weren't we just almost blown up 2 minutes ago?'It works somehow - proving that editing, writing, direction, choreography, and camera angles can make you feel dizzy but not sick. Only the fiercest 'Die Hard' fans will love this (I do); it's too stimulating for the viewer who watches more rom-coms than thrill-packed action flicks. So good, though - like a strong cocktail. If you only ever sip wine, that will knock you on your a**.


"Die Hard" is pure cinematic gold. Upon release in 1988, the original film in what would soon become a franchise was met with critical acclaim and went on to be an instant classic of action and adventure. Audiences were in awe of its spectacle and sharp writing, and to this very day, it remains a cherished and beloved masterwork that few are able to compare to. Two sequels followed in the 90's, and while not quite able to come close to matching the high bar set by that first film, both were strong and wickedly exciting chapters that continued the series well and maintained its integrity.For a while, it seemed that the series was finished, with the third film having capped off the series while also giving a sense of completion to Bruce Willis' legendary action-hero John McClane. More than ten years passed before we heard the murmurings of a fourth film. Years of anticipation and dreams of a new film would finally be answered. But there were some snags along the way. Most troubling being a studio-mandated PG-13 rating, which betrayed the hard-R tonality set by the previous entries. Some also took issue with the choice in Len Wiseman as director, with his previous directorial efforts in the "Underworld" series being exciting but a little light on story. But even still, we held onto our hope that the newest chapter would be a worthy installment.And oh boy, was it!"Live Free or Die Hard" (also known as "Die Hard 4.0" in some territories) is a darned-good modern take on the franchise, that skillfully mixes the best of both old and new-school cinematic techniques and storytelling to deliver yet another grand installment in the series. While there are some inherent problems with the film (particularly in the tamed-down PG-13 theatrical cut), it was like seeing a dear old friend again walking into the theater. McClane was back. The explosive entertainment was back. The attitude was back. And it was a pleasure to behold.The FBI is tracking a potentially dangerous situation, as a number of highly skilled computer hackers have been assassinated. When it appears hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long), who is on the FBI's watch-list, may be a potential new target, New York cop John McClane (Willis) is dispatched to collect him for questioning and protection. However, McClane soon finds himself a target for murder upon collecting Farrell when he comes into the sights of deranged former Department of Defense official Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), who is seeking retribution for his dishonorable termination. Together, McClane and Farrell must do whatever they can to stop Gabriel's ultimate goal- to cripple the US by initiating a devious scheme known as a "Fire Sale"... where every computer-based network will be eliminated, throwing the country into utter chaos.The strength of the film is that it is pure, unadulterated "Die Hard" in virtually every sense, only given a fresh spit-and-polish with modern day effects and a contemporary storyline. Director Len Wiseman masterfully weaves a tale that takes McClane out of his comfort zone and puts him into a worst-case- scenario where his hard-boiled wit will again be put to the test. Together with writers Mark Bomback and David Marconi, Wiseman delivers non- stop thrills and thorough entertainment from start-to-finish, with some of the most mind-bending action set- pieces of its decade. It's over-the-top... but over-the-top in all the right ways that only "Die Hard" can pull off.Willis is phenomenal as always in his trademark role, and its nice seeing that the script gives him a bit of development as he's struggled in the years that have passed. McClane might be doing things no other man could reasonably survive, but there's a humanity beneath the surface. Olyphant makes for an adequately menacing villain, even if he's far more hands-off than previous foes. He's got a good look and voice for the part of such a treacherous baddie, so I didn't mind that he was more of a behind-the-scenes figure. But the stand-outs here are the delightful Justin Long, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kevin Smith in supporting roles. Long might just be a sidekick to McClane, but he's a ton of fun and is never grating. His attitude compliments and contrasts with Willis quite nicely. Winstead, a delightful young actress, portrays McClane's daughter Lucy, and she's a welcome addition, as her small role helps ground McClane and give him a bit more heart. And Smith is just a ton of fun as an underground hacker known as "The Warlock." He hams it up well and gets some good zingers.However, this is not a perfect film, and it loses a few points for a few big issues I have with it. To start, Gabriel might be a decent villain, but he is very underdeveloped. Despite trying his hardest, Olyphant's good performance cannot overcome weak motivation and a lack of screen time. Hans Gruber, he ain't. The film also pushes the boundaries of believability a few too many times, which bugged me. And oddly enough, the problems I had don't lie in a certain sequence involving a jet that I will not spoil. No, to me, it's more that there's a bit too much CG work and inorganic wire-stunts in the earlier half of the movie that feel out of place. And a few too many moments of McClane and Farrell being saved by unlikely circumstances. And finally... the edits made to get the film down to a PG-13 are very obvious. It's blatant where dialog has been redubbed with lighter language and where the film had to cut so they didn't show too much blood. It's a tad irritating. Thankfully, an R- rated edition was later released that corrects these issues."Live Free or Die Hard" is a complete blast and re-invigorates the franchise after a prolonged break. It's exciting. Entertaining. And pure "Die Hard." It's a very good 8 out of 10.


Bruce Willis (and the Die Hard franchise he perpetuated) will always be judged next to the other famous action franchises of the 1980s, such as "Rocky", "Rambo", & "The Terminator". While all those series got re-booted in the 2000s, they also contained a heavy dose of nostalgia for the past. In "Live Free or Die Hard", however, it is "full steam ahead" with little time for remembrance.For a basic plot summary, "Live Free" sees John McClane (Willis) pulled into another tense criminal situation when villain Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Oliphant) executes an event of cyber- terrorism severe enough to bring Washington to its knees. Along with "hack-boy" Matt Farrell (Justin Long), McClane sets out to find the perpetrators and bring them some 1980s-style justice.This film really works primarily due to airtight direction & pacing. Director Len Wiseman never lets the pace flag whatsoever. When the action dies down, the wisecracks & humor ramps up. Suffice it to say that there is never a boring moment what with all the action, chases, explosions, technology, & typical Willis humor.The main plot ("cyber-terrorism") also serves to usher McClane into the 21st century. McClane's old-school justice provides a nice counterpoint to the tech-nerd played by Long (who is actually, on a rare occasion, watchable in this effort).Actually, the only negative thing I can say about this movie is that I almost wished it would have harkened back to the themes of the original even perhaps a bit more. There is a subplot involving the daughter of McClane, but little more is mentioned (besides a few "easter egg moments") regarding the original Die Hard trilogy.Overall, though, "Live Free" is a great addition to the Die Hard cannon (already better than parts two & three). For an action-oriented film, it really holds its weight.