Tuesday, September 11, 2007

WAAYY Overdue Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4)

In Brief: What's Good

  • Nineteen years after the original movie (yes, 19), Bruce Willis is *still* great in the role of Detective John McClane.

  • Great action scenes.

  • Nice performance by Maggie Q as a techie/kung-fu henchman (uh, henchwoman, henchperson, Senior Hench Technician???).

  • Nice performance by Justin Long (Mac from the "I'm a Mac; I'm a PC" commercials) as a hacker turned hero sidekick.

  • Nice to see other cops and feds just accept John McClane into their operation. After three movies, McClane should not have to prove himself to anyone.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • As cool as some action scenes are, some are blatantly unrealistic.

  • A little too much attitude, profanity, and snarkiness from Justin Long's character in the first few minutes of the film (this problem gradually goes away as the movie progresses).

B+ Story
B Acting
A- Directing
A- Visuals

Just when you thought Die Hard was a completed trilogy, Bruce Willis returns as NYPD Detective John McClane in a fourth installment that's the best one since the original. This time, electronic terrorism expert Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his team of cohorts are breaching government computer systems, causing havoc across America and covering their tracks by assassinating hackers who helped them or may be suspected of helping them.

McClane is assigned to investigate a hacker named Matthew Farrell (Justin Long) and ends up protecting Farrell from an explosive assassination attempt and transporting him to the FBI in Washington, DC. McClane must continue to protect Farrell, track down Gabriel, and stop the U.S. power grid from falling victim to Gabriel's radical demonstration of America's lack of electronic security.

With the previous movies clearly establishing McClane's marital problems, this movie doesn't bother with an appearance by Holly McClane/Gennero. Instead, McClane's grown-up daughter Lucy is the center of John's family complications. It's rather predictable that Lucy would get mixed up in the drama, but at least the writers confirm that Lucy has some of her father's genes. She's one tough girl, definitely not a damsel in distress.

Nineteen years after the original, which centered around an elaborate vault theft in a corporate high-rise, the fourth installment gets a modern boost with a plot centered around technology and terrorism. Timothy Olyphant's character Gabriel may not be the most intimidating villain, but he's also one of the most cunning of the series, and his plans of electronic terrorism pose the most widespread threat.

Maggie Q provides much of the excitement as Gabriel's sidekick Mai Linh, who is highly skilled at both electronic security and martial arts. She serves as a thoroughly intimidating villain. I believe Richard Roeper or his guest reviewer on Ebert & Roeper even said that Maggie Q may have been better as the main villain rather than a sidekick to Olyphant.

Bruce Willis and Justin Long have good chemistry together. While John McClane is hardened and experienced at the crime-fighting stuff, his character has to learn to take on the role of bodyguard whenever it's time to let Farrell use his hacker skills. Eventually, the two of them make a good team, complementing each others talents well. The movie takes the obvious jabs at McClane for being old and at Farrell for being a computer geek, but that just makes the team-up that much more fun.

In a summer full of "threequels" (Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Shrek the Third, Ocean's 13, Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 3, etc.), it's both surprising and reassuring to see a "fourthquel" do well and be almost as impressive as its original. Despite some stunts, gunshots, crashes, and explosions that are a bit over-the-top, Live Free or Die Hard is a fun, smart, and witty summer action flick and a respectable new installment of the Die Hard franchise.

Fun Facts from Internet Movie Database

This movie addresses an apparent continuity error in the franchise. McClane is afraid of flying in the first two films but not in the third. In the fourth, he explains that he took flying lessons to get over his fears.

Fun Facts from Wikipedia

Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears had previously auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of McClane's daughter Lucy, and at one time Paris Hilton was considered. {What were they thinking???}

No comments: