Live Free or Die Hard Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
July 1st, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard - Keeps a Licking and Keeps
on Ticking
by Homer Yen
(c) 2007

I liked how John McClane (Bruce Willis) is
described in this fourth Die Hard installment.
"You're a Timex watch in a digital age," notes an
observer. He doesn't know ninja-fast kung fu.
He'd rather just throw an opponent into the wall.
He doesn't use laser-sights to shoot people at a
distance. He'd rather just walk up to you and
plug you with a couple of bullets. He doesn't
dance around the facts. He just bluntly states
that he's gonna find you and then he's gonna kill
you. John McClane is one of the last bastions of
the true American hero. And at age 52, he still
shows his durability as a stud.

I see that Entertainment Weekly has come out with
a list of the Top 25 action films of all time.
And, Die Hard (released way back in 1988) was
ranked #1. He's played this character plenty of
times before. And the set up of a crazed villain
who hatches an elaborate plan and holds the
hero's daughter captive for insurance is nothing
new. In fact, you could say that "Live Free or
Die Hard" rehashes the premise from two recent
films of the same genre named "16 Blocks" and
"Firewall". I marginally liked those two. But
there something about Bruce Willis's
junkyard-dog-roughness that just feels right.

Bruce Willis is really the perfect tough guy.
He's got that dogged determination, isn't afraid
to take a punch, and has that weathered look
suggesting that he's given as many beatdowns as
he has taken them. It's like the world never
changed in the Die Hard universe. Here's John
McClane, again, roughing it up with the baddies.
And, it stays true to its origins by foregoing
the tendency nowadays to use lots of CGI, which
gives the film a throwback kind of feel. That
is, I'm sure the sequence involving a fighter
plane, an 18-wheeler rig, and a collapsing
highway is probably computer generated, but it
doesn't look obvious.

Certain things, though, were unworthy. The
villain (Timothy Olyphant), a disgraced
politico-geek, seemed weak. He's too pretty to
take on John McClane. Meanwhile, the henchmen are
easily disposable. Yes, this includes the
athletic Maggie Q who is reduced to being merely
another pretty face. The evil-doer's goal is to
break into a super-secure site in order download
some super-secure files. As action films go,
I've never been enamored with watching fast
typing and endless scrolling codes across a
computer screen as a means of carrying out evil
deeds. We see the villains crouched over their
techno-hardware to input some world-destroying
program, then watch the good guys trying to type
in the antidote code. From a technical
standpoint, I was really only impressed with a
montage in which the villains patch together a
2-minute manifesto culling together words and
phrases of many-a-past President. And McClane's
sidekick, a deer-in-the-headlights-ish Keanu
Reeves look-a-like (Justin Long) does more
whining than is really necessary.

Still, John McClane is as enduring a movie icon
as they come. It's fun to watch him cheat death
over and over again using guts and brawn. And
even though we've seen films like this time and
time again, I for one think that you can never
see John McClane open a can of whoop-a** on his
enemies too many times.

Grade: B

S: 0 out of 3
L: 1 out of 3
V: 2 out of 3

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