Jaq's Review: Live Free or Die Hard - A Film for 'That Guy'
by Jaq Greenspon
July 11, 2007
No one does sarcastic action hero better than Bruce Willis. There, I said it. And no matter how many people try to top him at it, it just doesn't play as well as if it were Bruce Willis. Why is this so important to state, though? Because there are many pretenders to the John McClane throne and even though it's been twelve years since the last time Willis has donned the McClane mantle, in Live Free or Die Hard he slips it on like he's wearing an comfortable old suit and man is it great to see him back.
This time around, McClane is back to his hard-working, NYPD ways and the intervening years have not been kind to his life and family. He's divorced and his daughter wants nothing to do with him (not exactly sure where his son went, but that's okay, doesn't really matter). Of course, being McClane, he can't help but get involved with his daughter's life and ends up just making things worse. And this is where he is when he gets the call to pick up Matt Farrell (Justin Long), a computer geek, for the FBI. It seems that someone is taking over the government's computer system with the intent of causing general havoc and Farrell just might be the only guy on the planet who has the know-how to stop the bad guys.
Invariably, with things going awry, McClane must become the solo performer amidst the group mentality in order to save the world. Of course, this time, the fatal mistake the bad guys make is they let things get personal. As McClane, who by this time, has indoctrinated Farrell into the 'way of the hero,' begins to close in on Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), the bad guy, Gabriel kidnaps Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the hero's daughter. Now here's the thing; if I have to explain what kind of unholy hell this will unleash on Gabriel, then this probably isn't the movie for you.
If you're still reading, I'll tell ya, things at that point go from 'omigod that's cool' to no way is that ever going to work. Like, for example, before Lucy is snagged, McClane and Farrell enlist the aid of Warlock, a brilliant hacker played by Kevin Smith (yes, THAT Kevin Smith) to help them backtrack Gabriel and actually find out who he is by using way-cool technology. After Lucy is grabbed McClane fights an F-35B Lightning II from the cab of a semi… and wins!
The film doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the real world, but it never feels false or put on. At no point are we, as an audience, left incredulous at the derring-do feats of John McClane. We buy him completely. We know he's going to take chances and challenge the very laws of gravity in order to get what he's after and we're okay with that. And Willis, at 52, is not showing his age as other action stars, like Harrison Ford, are. But even if he were, Justin Long is ready to step in as a new breed of action hero, the kind who might not always have the brawn to back up his mouth, but he has the brains and the chutzpah to come out ahead, no matter what.
A special shout-out, too, to Timothy Olyphant as Gabriel. Olyphant is one of the most diverse actors on screen today, playing romantic love interests in small, independent films like Catch and Release in January and then jumping to evil-genius bad guys in huge Hollywood blockbusters in June.
Overall, Live Free or Die Hard is a fun, exciting, over-the-top film which supplies the audience with a plot constructed to not only please fans of the original Die Hard, but the new, younger movie-goers who just like to see stuff blown-up.
Reader Feedback - 6 Comments
Its not an F-22. Its an F-35B Lightning II. Note the single engine and the fact that it can hover.
bob on Jul 11, 2007
You're right... my bad. I named the wrong ultra-advanced jet fighter. Thanks for the giving me the correct one.
Jaq on Jul 11, 2007
Great review - totally loved the flick! So I just saw it and the cyber terrorist part of it all seemed a bit familiar, so I watched the credits and some Wired article was cited as the 'source'. I figured no way and went and read the article and in fact, no way - and it all came clear. Anyone read the book 'Pearl Harbor Dot Com' by a guy called Winn Schwartau? That book was a re-release in 2001 of his book called 'Terminal Compromise' released in 1992. I can tell you that the cyber terror part of the plot comes from that book - and the irony is this clown who wrote the Wired article in 1997 or so that was cited by the movie, references Winn Schwartau. It all seems very peculiar to me that his work was not cited!
Geek on Jul 11, 2007
I freakin' love Die Hard! I loved this movie! I love Bruce Willis! I even love that it was PG-13. Overall, entertaining and fun, which is what this series is about. I'm not going to get all geeky over the plot because that is just the vehicle used to show off Bruce Willis' bad@ss nature. Great review Jaq, would like to see more of your articles because you're an excellent writer.
Barry's Wife on Jul 17, 2007
Good God, but this was A-W-F-U-L! REALLY should've stopped after 2 Diehards. But n-o-o-o. Directly aimed at pimply-faced knuckledragging juvenile males just loving that things get "blown up". Same-old, same-old hero/villain drivel warmed over yet again....And this time let's bring in the doofus twenty-something geek tagalong sidekick for the younger audience. Once again Bruce Smirk Saves The World! Enough already!--whadda boatload o' CRAP! Hollywood flash, cretinous, dumbed-down extravagance. Please, if you have any self- respect at all, DON"T soil your consciousness for 2+ hours with this dreck. You've been warned.
Johnnymac on Nov 24, 2007
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.