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Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard

What She said:

She

It’s just a matter of weeks until the fifth movie in the Die Hard series is released, and The He and I hadn’t even seen the fourth, Live Free or Die Hard.  Shame on us.  Well, I’d like to think that this was a strategic move.  You know, I wanted the series fresh in my mind before going to see A Good Day to Die Hard in theaters.  Either way, we sat down and finally watched the 2007 installment, which stars Bruce Willis (of course), Justin Long, and Timothy Olyphant. 

Like all the other Die Hard movies, this film followed a familiar formula— John McClane is just minding his own business when he is thrown into a save-the-world type situation where he must bring down some baddies or else….  In Life Free or Die Hard, the threat is cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel (Olyphant), who is remotely taking down every aspect of social order in an attempt to steal lots of money.  An unwitting Matt Farrell (Long), a computer hacker, helps out Gabriel, and his code holds the key to the melee that Gabriel is creating.  McClane is charged with bringing Farrell in to authorities.  But Gabriel’s thugs want Farrell dead, and so McClane ends up in the middle of a situation he’d rather not be involved with, but for which he is the ideal person to reconcile.  McClane has to keep Farrell alive and save the U.S. by bringing down Gabriel.  Oh, and did I mention that Gabriel also takes McClane’s daughter hostage?  Yeah, once McClane started to P him off, Gabriel decided to play un-nicely as retribution.  There’s a lot at stake, but we all know that McClane can handle it.

Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard is really just more of the same from the Die Hard series.  But who’s got a problem with that?  As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and so long as Bruce Willis and crew can think of new ways to blow-up John McClane and have him survive (relatively unscathed), this is all fine with me.  McClane is the everyguy’s man.  He just wants to get through the day alive.  Fortunately for him, he doesn’t bruise easily, and has this uncanny ability to think on his feet.  What do you do if you’re driving a big rig and are being chased by an armed fighter jet?  Me=crap my pants.  John McClane=get involved in a 5 minute chase scene that ends with you winning, of course.  Yeah, it’s all really unbelievable but somehow, 25 years after the original, it still works for me. 

What this movie lacks in plot—and there are some holes—it makes up for in acting.  Willis and Long have a good dynamic as unlikely partners, and so that’s fun to watch.  It all creates good humor.  Olyphant is sinister, although, he’s not as strong as some of the bad guys from the previous Die Hard movies.  Every aspect of Live Free or Die Hard is just good enough to make for a generally enjoyable movie.

Now I’m all jazzed for A Good Day to Die Hard, which I’m hoping will live up to its genius title.

Thumbs up.

Live Free or Die Hard

 

What he said:

He

Action movies have taken quite a hit since their heyday. Guys who were huge in the 80s through the mid-90s couldn’t find much work outside of straight-to-video for years. I’m talking about some big names too. Even Stallone struggled to get any decent work for a while. Look at his resume between 98-06. It ain’t pretty. So, guys who weren’t quite as big – like Van Damme – had even a harder time finding decent working during the same time period. Van Damme still does to be honest, which is a shame, because Universal Soldier Regeneration (review here)and Day of Reckoning (review here) are two of the better action movies I have seen in years. If you are a fan of the genre you should check them out.

While the genre still struggles compared to its prime (Arnold’s The Last Stand has bombed in theaters), there have been more success stories in recent years than during the dark days of the previous decade. Live Free or Die Hard is one of those movies. It got good reviews from both fans and critics when it was released. Despite that, I never got around to seeing it. With the release of A Good Day to Die Hard right around the corner, and being a fan of the previous three movies (reviews here, here, and here), I wanted to finally check this out.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) sure has some shitty luck. You know how some people get their 15 minutes of fame? How that one unbelievable event that comes once in a lifetime happens to a select group of us? Well McClane seems to run into that kind of stuff a little more often. The guy runs into these situations time and time again. This latest chapter is no different.

Live Free or Die Hard

McClane is checking in his daughter Lucy – much to her chagrin – while she’s at school when he gets a call to help escort someone to FBI headquarters in D.C. Matt Farrell (Justin Long) is a computer hacker who seems to have attracted the attention of some very bad boys and girls, and the FBI wants McClane to bring him into protective custody. Farrell is your typical computer geek and is terrified of McClane, naturally. They’re interactions with one another are quite amusing. McClane is an old school tough guy. Farrell mostly interacts with people from behind a computer screen, collects action figures, and is pretty much a fraction of the man McClane is.

Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) is the leader of this group of bad guys. He is a cyber-terrorist and methodically begins shutting various things down and causing all kinds of chaos. The stock market, power grids, etc. are the kinds of things he and his group target. He is one smart dude who excels at wreaking havoc. Olyphant – who I like the more and more I see him – plays the intelligent, cold-hearted, and business-like Gabriel very well.

McClane cannot stand for this though and – like usual – does a good job at being a thorn in the bad guy’s side.  

Things get personal when Lucy (Mary Elizabeth WInestead) becomes involved in the situation.

Die Hard has always been known for some ass-kicking action and great humor. This definitely lived up to that reputation. The movie is quite funny at times and there’s still plenty of entertaining action. Bruce Willis is as good as ever, Olyphant is a worthy nemesis, and both Winestead and Long were solid additions. My only complaint is that sometimes modern action movies have this tendency to go big (too big at times). Action flicks have always been about larger than life heroes. These guys can take a punch more than any human being can. They have more luck than 10 Irishmen combined. I’m generally ok with all of this. However, this movie pushed the boundaries a few times. Maggie Q’s character almost seemed like a terminator  at times, and some of the bigger stunts were pushing it. Maggie Q was great in the fight scenes, but they could have toned it down a bit. Some of the chase scene/mass explosion kind of stuff was a little much too (though I admit the helicopter scene was brilliant). Aside from that, I enjoyed it. Die Hard might be one of the most consistent and action series around. I love Lethal Weapon, but as a series Die Hard stays stronger throughout.

Prognosis: Thumbs up. Looking forward to the next one. John McClane is one bad MFer.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on February 1, 2013.