Brock Otterbacher Reviews ‘Live Free or Die Hard’Friday, June 29, 2007
Hot damn, I love me some Die Hard. After seeing the 1st Die Hard, it left such an impression on me, that for a while, I was wishing every movie were a Die Hard movie. When the clones started coming out in droves, I was in heaven. Sure, they were just very slight variations on the theme- Die Hard on a bus, a plane, a boat, etc. But I loved ‘em. Speed (bus). Passenger 57 (plane). Under Siege (boat). Hell, there’s even a movie called Project: Shadow Chaser, which is a straight rip-off of Die Hard, with terrorists taking over a high rise, but with a brilliant twist- they have a cyborg with them to help out. Think about it. Die Hard with a cyborg. I love it.
Yeah, nothing beats a reluctant hero, stuck in a situation in which he’s got to rise above his humble existence, and take out the bad guys, using anything he’s got. But when it’s the tried and true John McClane taking ‘em out, you know he’s gonna do it best, and with that cocky smirk.
Live Free or Die Hard takes McClane into the 21st Century, introducing him to the threat of cyber-terrorism. Now while bad guys typing code may not sound all that threatening, what they do with that code certainly is. Imagine all utilities shutting down in an instant. Imagine cell phones shutting off. Traffic lights all showing green, causing accidents, and in turn, mega-traffic jams. Now, imagine all of this happening on one of the busiest holidays of the year, July 4th. What you have is total chaos, and on a massive scale. Basically, if Die Hard 1 is a building held hostage, 2 is an airport held hostage, and 3 is a city held hostage, this one is an entire country held hostage.
Now, while the terrorist are super high-tech, our boy John is still charmingly low-tech. (And we all know that when it’s high versus low, in the battle of the techs, the low always wins. The Ewoks taught us that.). John is still a smartass tough ass ass-kicker, and no matter how much his ass gets kicked, he kicks back harder. Even in a PG-13 movie.
Oh, crap! A PG-13 Die Hard movie?!?!
Yes, I know. That means we don’t get as many “f-bombs”, and the blood squibs don’t spray red all over the walls. But get this- the movie still hits pretty hard. You still get guys shot in the head, guys shredded, guys thrown out of buildings, and as a special bonus, you even get chicks dropped in an SUV, that then blows up. McClane is still bloody throughout the movie, he still gets to say his famous “Yippee ki yay, mother…” (well, you know), and he still gets to jump away from stuff as it’s blowing up right behind him. Yeah, it’s a Die Hard movie, alright.
Speaking of crap blowing up, director Len Wisemen (Underworld 1 & 2) knows how to do just that, but in a strangely (these days, anyway) very clear and concise way. None of that shaky cam BS. Not too much CG. Just good ol’ fashion action, but with a more modern touch, and more intricate setup. I like this guy, and if the rumors of him directing the Wolverine movie are true, then we geeks are in for some good stuff.
Okay, it’s getting late, so I wanna wrap this up. Here’s the basics- the action, while over-the-top, is awesome. There’s some pretty ballsy situations that happen, and get you pumped. The Mac kid is funny, but not too wacky. The main bad guy isn’t the most threatening physically, but he surrounds himself with some badasses, so that’s good enough for me. McClane’s daughter is hot and spunky, but in a non-annoying way. There’s some really cool hand-to-hand fighting, in which McClane almost gets his ass handed to him (another important aspect to a Die Hard movie).
If there’s one thing missing from the film (besides exploding kneecaps and f-bombs), it’s the fun of the villains that we got in the 1st one (and a tad bit in the 3rd one). But I guess you can’t have every Die Hard film having the bad guys stealing money to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with how I rank the Die Hard films, in order of least to best- Die Hard 2 (too self-referential, with McClane being way too much of an ass for no reason, even for McClane), Die Hard with a Vengeance (Sam Jackson made a nice sidekick, and Jeremy Irons is fun to watch, though it lacks a stand-out set piece), Live Free or Die Hard (over the top, but in all the right ways), and Die Hard (John Mc-mutha****in’-Clane!!!!!!).
Final Word: 4 out of 5 Kurgan Bobbleheads
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