Day 297-- Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4.0 in Europe) is the second-best Die Hard movie. Though it may sound like a back-handed compliment, it isn't; I consider the original Die Hard the Action Movie By Which All Others Are Judged. The second movie in the franchise was a frustrating failure, and the third was a confused spectacle that teetered between entertaining and wretched.

Based off of an article from Wired magazine called "A Farewell to Arms," Live Free or Die Hard follows detective an older John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he gets stuck trying to foil a terrorist plot disrupt all telecommunication and power in the United States. He's called to pick up a 20-something techno-wiz Matt Farrell (Justin Long, who was amazing in the TV show "Ed" and this) for questioning. After saving the young man's life during a tense apartment shoot-out with some of the terrorist's henchmen, McClane ends up being 'that guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.'

The film is a rollercoaster from this point on, stringing white-knuckle sequences together with brief scenes that expand the plot. And you know what? It's wildly entertaining. There are a few overboard set pieces (the tractor trailer vs. Harriet jet bit was just ridiculous), but like in the original Die Hard, McClane is just an everyman who succeeds only because of his wit (and the fact that he's willing to get hurt to get the job done). The main theme is directed at McClane as an insult by the main villain: "you're a Timex in a digital world." McClane notices all of the high-tech gobbly-gok around him, but always opts for the old fashion route. And it works.

Aside from some of the forced dialogue and the previously-mentioned over-the-top action bits, I was disappointed by the rating: it's a PG-13 movie. This is sketchy--it's an R movie if I've ever seen one, and I think the MPAA pulled a fast one the studio muffled a few vulgarities. The rating doesn't bother me, necessarily; I'm just frustrated with the film studio's choice to try to tweak the rating like that to reach an audience they shouldn't be reaching.

But the movie is a great summer blockbuster, something more fresh than any superhero movie or CGI spectacle. McClane has snappy one-liners and banters well with Farrell, the bad guys are menacing (especially the few that employ parkour), and there's quite a lot of tension and excitement. This movie can wear its "second best" badge with pride.


posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 6/29/2007 10:15:00 AM,


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