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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.82%
Worth A Look47.32%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 16.96%
Total Crap: 11.61%

9 reviews, 58 user ratings

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Live Free or Die Hard
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by Matt Seaver

"A suitable retirement party for John McClane."
4 stars

I’m all for stuff blowing up. I enjoy it. But the promise of another Die Hard flick had me hoping that the studio was willing to let them go back to the gradual tension build-up that make the original awesome. They weren’t. Nonetheless, it’s still John McClane. And he’s still pissed off. And that is ALWAYS fun.

It’s hard to give Live Free or Die Hard crap for not really feeling like a Die Hard movie when the series has such a jumbled history. Two were based on completely unrelated novels, one was adapted from a script that had been floating around Hollywood for years, and one took its main conflict from a Wired magazine article. Really, the only constant to these stories has been John McClane and Friends, and even they were added after the fact. Even still, while the other three seemed to blend fairly well stylistically, something about “Live Free” separates it, and not necessarily for the better.

This one sees McClane (an older, balder Bruce Willis) working as a senior detective in the Rutgers area in New Jersey. His daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a student there, and it’s a nice way to keep an eye on the younger McClane. After some strange occurrences within the nation’s computerized defense and utility systems alarm the government, McClane is charged to deliver Matthew Farrell (Justin Long) to Washington, DC for questioning. Seems Farrell is one of a number of hackers under investigation for infiltrating the mainframe. When they arrive in DC, McClane and Farrell find a world almost completely shut down. Whoever is behind it all is in control of utility systems, traffic systems, defense systems, more than enough to make life hell for everyone. McClane, being John McClane, gets involved, first as Matt’s protector as they try to set things right, but after an ugly run-in with top henchmen Mai Lihn (Maggie Q) and a number of perfectly-timed Asian hooker jokes, hacking mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) decides to make his attacks more personal, kidnapping Lucy, at one point touching her and pointing a gun at her head, almost guaranteeing him a painful torture and death.

I get the premise of this movie. It’s a fun idea to take an old-school cop/action hero like McClane and drop him into a post-9/11 world, one that has technologically, morally and philosophically passed him by. And it works. It does. McClane is essentially a dinosaur who is way out of his element. Naturally, being John McClane, he fights through it. The problem I have is that not only did they up the environment to something more modern, but they restructured the challenges McClane had to face. One of the things I loved about the first three films in the series is that no matter how many bad days McClane had, no matter how much ridiculous crap he had to face, it was always somewhat realistic – terrorists seizing the building in LA, an assault on the New York airport, bombs planted around New York City – this stuff could happen. Amongst a huge amount of other improbabilities, Tanker McClane vs. F16… just not gonna happen. Don’t misunderstand, it was fun as all hell. But it broke the semi-realistic tension that has always made these movies fun for me. In addition, Len Wiseman’s directing, while mostly competent, fell into the modern action movie trap – shots too fast, cuts too short, and all-around not being able to see the action.

As is to be expected, the bright spot and ultimate redeeming quality of this flick is McClane. Again, he is the constant that connects this piece of the story to its predecessors. It is an older, more beaten-down McClane, but that only works to the plot’s advantage; it is that much easier to buy his fish-out-of-water act. Older and wiser as he is, it isn’t long before the old McClane comes out and cracks wise, first at the expense of Farrell and his hacker buddies, then much more hysterically at the expense of wannabe-supervillain Gabriel. The “Asian hooker” sequence after McClane’s run-in with Lihn is priceless, and as good to me as, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

Everyone else in the movie performs as well as they need to. Long has proven to me that he can pull off just about anything, and I always look forward to him showing up. He and Willis have a good rapport once it picks up speed. Winstead is believable as McClane, exuding enough of her father’s attitude to move beyond standard hostage bait. The only shortcoming comes from the villain. Timothy Olyphant is threatening enough, especially as McClane gets closer and more personal, but for the first half of the film, it’s really not clear why he’s doing what he’s doing. And as relevant as an internet attack might be, it’s not nearly as much fun to watch as the in-person cat and mouse game that a more conventional chase provides.

All this being said, I still enjoyed the heck out of this film. I’m a sucker for John McClane, and I ooh’d and ahh’d at all the right places when stuff blew up. If nothing else, this is a very decent introduction for the 17-20 crowd who might not have had an older brother to sit them down in front of a Die Hard VHS growing up.

I’m not sure there’s really anything left for another installment, and that’s not a bad thing. McClane has had a good run, from redefining how to shoot a slow-burn action movie in 1988 up to all the spectacle Michael Bay could want in 2007. He’s had a good run, and I think he’s in good shape to retire.

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originally posted: 07/15/07 10:55:05
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell good action sequel alot better than die hard 2 4 stars
3/17/16 Charles Tatum 'Salright 4 stars
7/08/12 BongThom Perfect review. 1 stars
2/03/11 Richard79 Almost unidentifiable as a Die Hard. Just another superhero movie for teenagers. 1 stars
12/17/10 fartvenugen preposterous and completely lame. 1 stars
10/27/10 Stirling Review by brianorndorf is spot on 1 stars
10/17/10 Stirling Spot on review. Disgraceful sequel. Die Hard 5? No Thanks! 1 stars
10/11/10 Eduardo It features the most stupid plot ever. Even an action movie has to have a plot, this doesnt 1 stars
12/24/09 brian i hope they make another one so everyone will be yelling "please die already!" 2 stars
12/03/09 R.W. Welch Too over-the-top to really get into, but lively enough. C+ 3 stars
10/01/09 Zefram Way better than expected. 4 stars
8/20/09 Jeff Wilder Gets the job done. Better than the second. But not as good as the original or third. 3 stars
10/09/08 jojo22 i loved it!! go BRUCE! 4 stars
9/27/08 Ian Can you explain why Asian hooker jokes are funny and not racist? 2 stars
7/25/08 Adam Too much of a mockery and an insult to the Die Hard series. 2 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight I am a staunch defender of Die hard 3. But not this one 2 stars
3/31/08 Monday Morning I don't want to spoil it for anyone but Bruce Willis and The Mac Guy save America. YAY!!!! 3 stars
3/15/08 Lucifugerofocale Brilliant took an out of date franchise and revamped for the modern audience 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies If you like non stop action you will love this 4 stars
2/08/08 Anthony Feor Bruce Willis obviously knows how to keep tradition alive 4 stars
1/25/08 Tim A compleIe sellout and ludicrous in the extreme. Sinks a series that started off great. 1 stars
1/18/08 X Wang Decent action movie - obiviously not as great as the previous ones 4 stars
12/30/07 Austin Wertman loved it 5 stars
12/21/07 MP Bartley Decent enough, but too tame to really thrill. Smith's cameo is horrendous. 3 stars
12/13/07 ES Sadly the best part of this film was that it could be turned off. Die Hard has finally die 2 stars
12/05/07 dude loved it 5 stars
11/25/07 Servo Worst of the Die Hard flicks ... means it's still well worth watching 3 stars
11/20/07 Matt Plain impossible, plain daft-but who cares? Great fun, welcome back Bruce! 4 stars
11/17/07 mr.mike Willis and the movie are great.The ending borrows from "License To Kill" 4 stars
11/05/07 mb Love Bruce Willis. Awsome action movie from begining to end. 5 stars
10/06/07 Descent Passable but lacking in genuine tension and drive 3 stars
9/20/07 Johnnyfaye Okay plane and simple, if you didn't like this movie than you're not a die hard fan. 3 stars
9/06/07 Charles R.L.Power Clichéd and implausible, but carries the viewer along anyway 3 stars
9/03/07 Drooch Shallow, noisy cream-puff for teens. Total sellout. Where's the real McLane? 1 stars
8/31/07 Alex Hosking Nonestop computer enhanced action from beginning to end. A total waste of time. 1 stars
8/27/07 Private Obtuse and absurd but still manages to be moderately entertaining genre film. 3 stars
8/14/07 jimmy This movie was just a tv movie of the week with a 100 million budget and Bruce Willis in it 1 stars
8/07/07 David Graham Best of the sequels, an action flick to die hard 4. 5 stars
7/30/07 matt the swearing and smoking has to return in 5..sort it out fox 4 stars
7/28/07 Jiz Delivers the goods, Justin Long is a terrible actor though. 4 stars
7/28/07 Harry An insult to the series...shame 1 stars
7/22/07 jdm I loved it, non-stop action start to finish, best of the summer so far 5 stars
7/21/07 ben dover mclane is the man fantastic 5 stars
7/20/07 Brian Mckay The Techbabble is almost as retarded as on "24", but I don't watch porno for the plot, dig? 4 stars
7/17/07 Alexander Not a classic, but so wasn't the third one. Oldschoold action-movie with not too much CGI. 4 stars
7/05/07 Quigley Just go see it for the car crashes, stunts, explosions, and...of course...John McClane. 4 stars
7/05/07 damalc just more of the same for John McClane 2 stars
7/04/07 zaw Action Packed as I expected!!!! 5 stars
7/02/07 ahnold It was ok. Formulaic plot lines hurt movie (e.g.daughter=hostage);as did impossible escapes 3 stars
7/01/07 CrazyJayy Never thought twice about the PG13 or 12 years ago...this was fun--point blank!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/30/07 Blizz A total disgrace to the series, no matter what anyone else says...don't listen! 1 stars
6/29/07 KingNeutron Unabashed 5 *'s, hopefully the DVD will give us the Director's cut. 5 stars
6/29/07 Ole Man Bourbon It's what it should be, good action, good performances by Willis and Long. 4 stars
6/29/07 Mick A bunch of flag waving crap that is so 80's. 1 stars
6/29/07 Matt I thought this was a good movie true to the franchise. PG-13 may have cripled it somewhat. 4 stars
6/28/07 Steve Big fan of the series and disagree with the reviewer. I thought it was great! 5 stars
6/28/07 Paul Might not be "artistic" but it was a lot of fun to watch from beginning to end. 4 stars
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  27-Jun-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Nov-2007

  04-Jul-2007 (15)

  09-Aug-2007 (M)

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