But that just goes to show you how dependent on Technology we all are. Aren't Cell Phones a nuisance? Yeah, until your battery dies and you want to make a call. Then it's like losing a limb! Don't you just hate Windows? Yeah, till you get a Virus, then you wonder how you lived without instant Googling! Still, we're just talking inconvenience here, not catastrophe on the scale of global thermonuclear war. We're not... Live Free or Die Hard is!
Yes, yes, ladies and gentlemen, the man who hates Technology himself, Officer John McClane (oh, wait, that's detective John McClane now) is back in Bee's Wax for the first time in a long time. He still looks a lot like Bruce Willis, he still doesn't care too much about Technology (yet) and he's still one good, good cop. Anything else? Yep... he's still... AWESOME!!!
Good news... he's got shoes on this time. Predictible news... he's got no hair this time!
And he still loves his family more than anything, regardless of how they feel about him. Why else would he be caught at 3 AM in New Jersey threatening the boyfriend (or not) of his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)? But caught he is... by LoJack (damned prepared Government vehicles) and based solely (it would seem) on proximity, the McClaniac is ordered by his boss-man to lend his scarred hands to a federal round-up operation with known hackers as the target (I guess Neo wasn't on the list). Once again: John McClane, victim of circumstance. Thanks to this little trail of dominoes, much to the delight of fans the world over, now the same thing can happen to the same guy a fourth time!
Well... not the exact SAME thing. Okay, let's review... Die Hard: John McClane attends an office Christmas Party, Terrorists show up to ruin everything. Die Hard 2: Die Harder: John McClane arrives at an airport to pick up his wife for their Christmas celebration, Terrorists show up to ruin everything. Die Hard: With a Vengeance: John McClane is separated, suspended and alone nowhere near Christmas, Terrorists show up to make things even worse. Live Free or Die Hard: John McClane has a ridiculous, yet somewhat routine assignment to drive some kid a little bit more than 16 Blocks to Washington D.C., Terrorists show up to ruin everything and make things worse than you could possibly imagine.
Although Live Free or Die Hard does keep some of the best traditions of the Die Hard saga alive, well and boiling, this film also ups the ante by a few billion notches. In many ways this fourth entry more closely resembles Die Hard: With a Vengeance than the other films, however, it's even bigger and more expansive than that one.
It seems that McClane's charge just might have been an unwitting accomplice to the mother of all Hacks, a project that could bring the United States to its knees. We're talking all the money, all the data, all the utilities, all the communications, even all the traffic lights in the hands of extremely nerdy terrorists. Control the Technology and everything shuts down! In that the "Fire Sale" has begun, there's suddenly a big target on the backs of every unknowing hacker who got sucked into all this. And that goes especially for McClane's newest sidekick, Matt Farrell as played by Justin Long. I have to say that casting Justin Long as the female lead was an interesting choice. Quel Chance! But, seriously... why not him for the female lead? He's a Mac and he brought his PC!
Let me tell you, this here terrorist organization isn't one of your your garden variety Gruber/ Stuart/ Krieg Die Hard terror groups. As led by super nerd Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), these guys could be more than a match for John McClane in that they know everything about him and are completely invisible to him. Imagine Die Hard 1 taking place not in one building, not in one city, but throughout much of the nation with the Bad Guys playing omniscient narrator to McClane's running spoil sport. Of course, Gabriel's got a whole team waiting to squash McClane. And that includes Maggie Q's canny yet ultra hot Mai Lihn and a whole butt load of foreign mercenary types from the Rent-A-Dick section of the yellow pages.
Luckily, McClane has been known to take on armies and win. Which is good, because the actual government may or may not be backing him up this time around... even if they did know which end was up without their computers. That's a shame too, because they have a pretty damned ultra-cool FBI Team, including the big guy himself Cliff Curtis' Bowman along with Zeljko Ivanek's Molina, Sung Kang's Raj, Yancey Arias' Agent Johnson and yes, oh yes, Tim "Tuvok" Russ' Chuck Summer!
But where those guys are only of help when they can be reached, luckily, McClane's got lil' old Matt to help him with all those technological tricks that John himself never cared for. And what Matty-Boy can't handle, surely Freddy the Warlock (as played by smilin' Kevin Smith) can with his TechnoJedi mind tricks.
Yeah, that's a lot to stuff in Die Hard 4.0's 2 hours and 10 minutes... and it still works. Yeah, man, it's still over-the-top and in places ridiculously impossible, but it's still handled in that same "Summer Popcorn, Deal With It Pink Boy" sort of in your face self-awareness that went into all four entries. Within the first few seconds there's an explosion, within just a couple of minutes after that, we get our first gun fight, followed immediately by our first car chase. And rest assured, it doesn't slow down after that. If anything, it keeps getting faster and keeps getting more exciting. Yeah, even though McClane is still imperfect and far from bullet-proof, this can be an unbelievable film... and I'll bet you won't mind. This goes a little bit deeper than mere "Action-It-Up" logic, however. The history of this script is long and detailed, which is nothing new to this series, the first entry of which was based a novel that was a sequel to another novel that was made into a Sinatra Movie. The second was based on a completely unrelated novel. The third was based on a screenplay that had nothing to do with either one of them. The short story on this one is that David Marconi read John Carlin's article "A Farewell to Arms" and wrote a script with a working title of WW3.com. This eventually evolved into Die Hard 4.0 by Mark Bomback (after a rewrite by Doug Richardson shoved "certain original characters" from Roderick Thorp's Nothing Lasts Forever into it). "Short story" indeed.
Bruce Willis is excellent in his best-known role. It feels almost like visiting an old friend again. An old, cool, articulate, intelligent and incredibly violent friend. Justin Long actually holds his own here, playing the part of the slightly annoying, yet still affable Robin to McClane's Batman. And although Bonnie Bedelia doesn't appear here (the closest we get is an image of Holly Gennero's license with Bonnie's likenes on it), one probably won't notice with lovelies like Maggie and Mary Elizabeth on the screen. Hell, the cast is all around great.
To be sure, Live Free or Die Hard has a different feel from the other three and not just in theme and era (technically the other three were filmed and released in another Milennium). Twentieth Century Fox took a bit of a chance on a modern up-and-comer named Len Wiseman with this one. Naturally, putting the director of the Underworld movies at the helm of a Die Hard flick threatens to put this one firmly into an oddball realm. However, aside from some strange color filtering (not to the dreamy haze of Underworld: Evolution, but noticeable), this one feels more Die Hard than Lycanthrope Vampire.
It feels like Die Hard because it is Die Hard, regardless of where the story originated. This is due in no small part to the fact that Live Free or Die Hard was produced by original Die Hard director John McTiernan along with frequent Willis partner Arnold Rifkin and Bruce Willis himself.
The end result is probably the best Die Hard entry since the first one. An ACTION FLICK of the First Degree! This is a purely entertaining film, even with the PG-13 rating (all the others received R Ratings), incredibly rich in incredible, incredible action and more than a little in the intelligence category. Four and One Half Stars out of Five for Live Free or Die Hard! One Hundred Thirty Minutes of PURE ADRENALIN! Yippee Ki Yay Mother-BOOM!
Who cares? He's Die Hard John McClane!
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