LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
**** (out of 5)
June 27, 2007
Bruce Willis as JOHN MCCLANE
Timothy Olyphant as THOMAS GABRIEL
Justin Long as MATT FARRELL
Maggie Q as MAI LIHN
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as LUCY MCCLANE
Kevin Smith as WARLOCK
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Len Wiseman
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
It’s been a dozen years since John McClane beat up the bad guys in a “Die Hard” film. That’s a long time coming, and when there’s that much time between sequels, people like me start to worry. First, Bruce Willis has gotten older; will the filmmakers give the same consideration to John McClane. Second, two-time “Die Hard” director John McTiernan had been replaced by Len Wiseman.
That second one had me worrying more than anything else. After all, have you seen “Underworld”? And this is the guy they put in charge.
Then, through the internet buzz, it was learned that the movie, which had been shot with an R-rating in mind, was suddenly being edited for a PG-13 label.
I’m not going to be one of those people who complains that the classic tag line “Yippe-ki-yay, muther****er!” has been dropped. After all, considering the box office blow “Snakes on a Plane” took when they settled for an R-rating for just a single line, it’s not a bad business decision. Hollywood’s gotta make it’s money back somehow, right?
I was more worried about the action in the movie suffering. I don’t care if people are shot in a bloodless manner. Just leave the stunts and explosions intact. After all, isn’t that one of the main reasons we see a “Die Hard” movie?
When I finally got a chance to see the film, I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only was all the action in place, it was some of the best action I’ve seen in a long time. The stunts were incredible. The explosions were awesome. This is a movie not to be missed on the big screen for the action shots alone.
When it came to the story, it wasn’t anything great, but it fell right in line with the “Die Hard” franchise. Based on an article about how vulnerable our computer systems are in this nation, the script follows a group of cyber-terrorists who mean to take down all communications systems in America.
John McClane is our only hope, of course, and he hooks up with a snot-nosed hacker (played by Mr. Mac himself, Justin Long) to find a way to thwart the bad guys. McClane’s daughter, who has as bad of an attitude as he does, is also along for the ride.
The bad guy is played by Timothy Olyphant, who doesn’t hold a candle to previous villains, but admittedly Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons left pretty big shoes to fill. Still, he holds his own, and he’s supported by the lovely Maggie Q, who is always fun to watch on screen.
No pun intended, but I had a blast watching this film. Sure, the story was pretty cliche and sort of rips off the first two movies at the same time, but it all still worked within the context of the “Die Hard” universe. It’s a popcorn movie at its best.
Don’t let the overhyped sequelitis keep you from this movie. Yes, it’s a sequel, but it’s an action movie first. And even though there have been some deft looping edits to give it that PG-13 rating, the action is awesome and the movie is a lotta fun.
Consider these next two weeks of the summer to be two weeks of blowing things up. Sure, you’ve got the family-friendly “Ratatouille” and the politically-charged “SiCKO” out in theaters. But between “Live Free or Die Hard” and Michael Bay’s “Transformers,” it is the season for explosions and trucks flying off the freeway.