Live Free or Die Hard ***
Directed by Len Wiseman
Written by Mark Bomback and David Marconi
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
Cliff Curtis as Bowman
Kevin Smith as Warlock
130 Minutes(Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language, and a brief sexual situation).
"Live Free or Die Hard" is comparable to the classic action films that seem to have disappeared for a while. Those ones like "Face/Off," which have a completely impossible plot but just explosion after glorious explosion and action sequences that seem impossible, and yet you just don't mind. Kind of like the original three "Die Hard" movies. And in that way, aside from the lack of any visible blood or foul language, "Live Free or Die Hard" manages to be a sequel to a film from over twelve years ago that still has the same feeling as the original. One thing that was missing from just about all the sequels-"Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" especially-was that they tried to take themselves a step further, and changed the overall tone of the other ones. But with this one, I got what I expected-an overly complicated plot that I have no way to ever fully understanding because most of it probably doesn't make sense, loud bangs, witty one liners, and than of course "yipee ki yay motherfu*ker," or sadly in this case "yipee ki yay motherfu(loud noise)." Curse you, PG-13 rating.
"Live Free or Die Hard" once again takes our favorite NYPD police detective John McClane, who never seems to be doing any work in New York. He is taking the mickey out of his daughter Lucy's maybe boyfriend who was trying to get funny with her in the front seat of a car, when he is called into work to travel to New Jersey and pick up computer hacker Matt Farrell and bring him to the FED's. It should only take an hour, and its an easy job. Of course, we know that this will lead McClane into a twenty four hour adventure. When he goes to pick up Farrell the two of them are attacked by an assassin trying to kill Farrell, and McClane gets involved in this plot that involves a past government agent who went bad, who is trying to shut down the entire country by hacking into one computer at a time. Of course, as "Die Hard" fans could know, McClane does not really know much about technology, and in the ever expanding world he joins forces with a series of computer hackers to take down the bad guy. That is until he kidnaps McClane's daughter, and then McClane is just ready to take down the bad guys by any means necessary.
There are plenty of loud noises, and pretty much eighty percent of the films two hour and ten minute running time are full of some kind of explosion or the other. There are some that seem a bit impossible, one of these include a breathtaking extended sequence involving McClane in a truck, some that are just hilarious to watch, including McClane taking on a female computer hacker-and also manages to find himself in a van, and then some that had the audience yelling "Ohhhhhh!" when it happened, one of these involve McClane crashing a moving car into a helicopter. But no matter how impossible they all seem there is something about them that actually make them worthwhile. And the special effects manage to make everything look pretty real. I could spot where computers were used, but it was not distracting. Since this was made so many years after the originals, I was kind of hoping for some kind of throwback to those films. Maybe a surprise appearance by McClane's buddy Al Powell, but that was not to be. The rating has even been trimmed to a PG-13, while the others were strong R's. When it comes to the violence it is not that bad. This film does have many brutal moments-explosions, people get shot or sliced up-just not the gore that I've seen in the others. What the PG-13 rating seems to do is the foul language is cut down, and while McClane does have his witty one-liners that he is famous for, he does not get the chance to say his favorite four letter word very often. If you watch the characters mouths and listen to the audio, there are many moments where the two don't fit, and it is clear that there is an R rating out there somewhere that they over dubbed to make PG-13. And, as I mentioned above, the famous phrase is somewhat cut a little bit, which just ticked me off. I thought you were allowed the "F" word a certain number of times in a PG-13, and I wish they broke the rules a bit.
Bruce Willis manages to play the part of McClane many years later without looking like a total fool, and the only thing missing from this one is his hair. There was a perfectly fine buddy element with Justin Long-the guy from those MAC commercials, and no matter how many movies he does he will always be known as "the guy from those MAC commercials." There's even a surprise appearance from Kevin Smith as a computer hacker, and his nerdy qualities fit perfectly into the character. "Live Free or Die Hard" managed to impress me because it wasn't a retread of the first ones. It updates itself-through its technologically heavy plot-and delivers what made the originals so good in the first place. There is never a dull moment, and this is the perfect remedy to the somewhat lackluster summer season we've had so far.