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Live Free or Die Hard an Acronym for Crazy, Crazy Action

Published June 30, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Ryan Parsons | Image property of 20th Century Fox.
Live Free or Die Hard Poster Live Free or Die Hard
I got to agree with Fred on this one, Live Free or Die Hard, also known as Die Hard 4.0, is one helluva ride. Though it will likely disappoint the most die hard of Die Hard fans, this fourth installment excels at delivering action, action and more crazy action. As a summer popcorn fest, you really couldn't ask for anything more.

Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard is more a True Lies 2 than it is another Die Hard installment. For those of you looking for John McClane, a simple cop who ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time, you will get half of what you are looking for. Die Hard 4 offers a slightly different take on John McClane -- a super cop who can take a beating, bounce off concrete, and still keep pace with the healthiest of henchmen. Though this change could have been annoying, some of the henchmen seem just as invincible.

Did it bother me? I'll let it slide! I am not exactly a fan of Len Wiseman, but the action sequences delivered in this film will easily be some of the best we see for 2007. Every sequence will have at least one moment that should have you mouthing 'wow'. Yes, the film has no problem going over the top, but at least it's sensationally entertaining.

Does it come at a cost? Sure. Through out the entire film you never really feel that John McClane, Farrell (played perfectly by Justin Long) or Lucy McClane are really in mortal peril. Sure, bullets are flying past their heads for two hours straight, but the film has so much fun with the action that you never feel, what's the word, on edge for their lives. Close calls, sure, but you know they are going to walk out of it. They will be badly beaten up, bleeding from head to toe, but they will still walk out of it.

Add in the fact that Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Lucy shows no fear until the end of the film and you have to wonder if she inherited some of her father's superhero blood. She is kidnapped and not afraid? Come on! Again, I have to let it slide, as the film does (finally) place some fear in Winstead by the film's ending. If it wasn't for Long's role of fearful hacker, one would wonder if any of these characters are ever really that afraid.

Some of the screening reports claimed that Timothy Olyphant did not play a villain up to snuff. I can't, however, figure out where this complaint is coming from. We are constantly reminded that Olyphant's character, Thomas Gabriel, is more brains than brawn. His henchmen are the ones that McClane really needs to deal with. While those with weapons threaten the lives of McClane and company, it is Gabriel that threatens the existence of the United States. What's more frightening? As the FBI points out, he is a ghost.

The story? It's simple. McClane picks up hacker (Long), encounters assassins, discovers hacker's knowledge has value, takes on the 'terrorists', then goes after the main villain, Olyphant, to save his daughter. Though the story sounds simple, the action most certainly isn't.

Live Free or Die Hard is a two-hour stunt fest that makes you wish more films used actual stuntwork than CG manipulation. Yes, CG is used here, but not nearly as often as we have come to expect from films of this magnitude.

Sticking to the previous three Die Hard installments, we always learn that 'terrorism' is more about making a buck than it is about sending a message. Fortunately for McClane, he gets to do what he does at the end of every Die Hard film and deliver a personal message of his own.

The film is PG-13, comes with intense violence, and, yes, even allows McClane to get away with his trademarked line. What? You thought they pulled it? Nope, they got him to say the line in the most creative way possible. Genius really.

If you are looking for something that compares to the realism in the original Die Hard, you might walk out Live Free disappointed. If you have spent nights dreaming of a True Lies 2, consider your dreams realized. What a blast.
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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox.

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