Live Free or Die Hard

Plot: John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back trying to save the day, but this analog cop just ran in to a digital problem. The U.S. computer infrastructure has been taken over and suddenly everything can be controlled. Havoc ensues as John tries to save a computer hacker (Justin Long) and the rest of America.

Who’s it for: Well, it’s PG-13, which means we’ll probably only hear one F-bomb. I’m sure this film will be a great example about how tons of explosions and death doesn’t matter to the ratings board.

Expectations: Explosions are cool, especially when Willis is shouting out one-liners. But it’s been a while, so I didn’t want to get too excited about “Live Free or Die Hard.”

SCORECARD

Actors:

Bruce Willis as John McClane: There is no action hero better than McClane, perhaps Matt Damon with the “Bourne” movies comes close. But for insane action, this cop has my vote. It’s more of the same for Willis, but the formula seems stale even though it’s been so many years since the last film. He’s added the dimension of hating technology/computers and that’s going to appeal to the Baby Boomer generation.
Grade: 6

Justin Long as Matt Farrell: He’s still doing the same shtick from when he was Warren P. Cheswick in the TV show “Ed.” It fails whenever he is the lead, but works when he’s the second banana.
Grade: 6

Timothy Olyphant as Thomas Gabriel: The “Deadwood” star makes a pretty good bad guy. He rarely flinches, has decent comebacks and is smarter than anyone else in the room. Come to think of it, bad guys are ALWAYS smarter. Why must we always want to kill the brainiac?
Grade: 7

Talking: Yippee ki yay … since the idea of John McClane is “ordinary cop, extraordinary situation,” I think it’s hilarious he has a catch phrase. And they force it in there at the end. But there are only a couple classic one-liners here, such as “You killed a helicopter with a car.” To which McClane retorts, “I was out of bullets.”
Grade: 6

Sights and sounds: It’s all real. That’s real fake rubble instead of digital rubble. Things are actually blowing up and cars are crashing into helicopters. It’s a rare treat to not have to worry about tons of computer effects getting in the way of an action flick. But if I have to get critical, the editor did a horrendous job of matching up dialogue while cutting the movie.
Grade: 7

PLOT SPOILERS

Best scene: You are required not to think logically during the scene, but a plane versus a semi-truck is pretty good action, especially when you throw in a collapsing highway.

Ending: I don’t really need to tell you the ending right?

Random thoughts: If McClane can do it, I can stop being worried about Indiana Jones, right? Willis is still getting the job done, but if you track the films we’ve gone from a building, to an airport, to New York to the entire United States … I suggest scaling it down before we get “Die Hard 7: Space, the Final Frontier.”

Rewatchability: If you watch this film twice, there’s no way it will hold up. The unintentional comedy will be off the charts with how many times McClane chuckles after another insane explosion.

OVERALL

It’s amazing how intense I found the beginning of “Live Free or Die Hard.” I was actually nervous with all the gunfire and near misses. But then it kept happening over and over again. So instead of being involved, I studied the action sequences, which were amazing to look at but there was not enough emotional intensity and only a hint of humor. But the first “Die Hard” had its problems as well — after all, there has never been a worse stunt man than Willis’. The man had a full head of hair. Trust me, go back and watch. “Live Free or Die Hard” works because it’s better than the rest of the mindless action flicks, mainly because of the icon John McClane. When the summer’s over we’ll see if he is still on top or if Jason Bourne has something to say about it.

Overall Grade: 7

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