Friday, June 29, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

Title: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Dir: Len Wiseman
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Here we have yet another movie that reminds me why I love Bruce Willis. Even in his 50s, the man is still badass. This fourth installment in the Die Hard series gets a bad rap for being over-the-top, but I enjoyed it despite that - and because of it.

After hackers breach the FBI's computer system, NYPD officer John McClane (Willis) is asked to apprehend young hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) for questioning. When John reaches Matt's apartment, the two are attacked by armed men who evidently want Farrell dead. As it turns out, Matt unwittingly assisted the cyber-terrorists who crashed the FBI network. And next they intend to target the stock market, traffic signals, and the entire computer infrastructure of America, thereby sending the nation into a state of chaos. Now it is up to McClane and Farrell to bring down the bad guys before they bring the U.S. to its knees.

Okay, I know the hackers-take-over-the-country plot is complete bullshit, but if you loosen up and just go with the ride, it's a lot of fun! It is a whole new ball game for John McClane, who has dealt with Eurotrash and their bombs, but now he is up against young Americans on a playing field he knows nothing about (computers). But that doesn't stop John from delivering old-school justice to these new-age nerds! McClane kicks major ass here. Sure, some of the stunts are complete bs, namely a jet-vs-semi battle on a freeway (and since when does DC have palmtrees?), but most of the action is hella fun.

The best part of the movie is Bruce Willis. For me, his portrayal of McClane in this is akin to Ash in Army of Darkness. In the first Die Hard, McClane was good, but still scared and quite beaten up - just like Ash in Evil Dead (moreso in ED 2). But in Army, Ash was a hard-boiled badass who had seen enough Deadites that it barely affected him anymore. Likewise, McClane has seen it all now, and is ready to kick any terrorist's ass. Furthermore, just like Ash, John is at his cockiest in Live Free. The one-liners are great here.

Justin Long is funny enough, and he plays off Willis well. I also really liked Timothy Olyphant as the leader of the badguys, Thomas Gabriel. He has some funny moments himself, especially involving McClane's daughter, Lucy (Mary-Elizabeth Winstead).

Of course, this movie is nowhere near as good as the first film (what is?) but it is a surprisingly good installment of the series. I think I like it even more than Die Hard With a Vengeance. If you can refrain from getting your panties in a bunch over the stunts or the hacker mumbojumbo, then you are bound to have a good time watching this.