Movies / Movie Reviews

Live Free or Die Hard

By Hervé St-Louis
July 7, 2007 - 13:22

Starring:     Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Jeffrey Wright, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directed by:     Len Wiseman
Produced by:     Arnold Rifkin, William Wisher, Michael Fottrell
Genres:     Action/Adventure, Thriller and Sequel
Running Time:     2 hr. 10 min.
Release Date:     June 27th, 2007 (wide)
MPAA Rating:     PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation.
20th Century Fox Distribution

The fourth installment in the Die Hard movie franchise, Lieutenant John McLane has to retrieve and escort a computer hacker to Washington, D.C. after a surprise attack on the FBI’s main computer systems. But what should have been a standard operation, turns out to be a deadly attack on hacker Matt Farrell and it’s up to McLane to save the day. Will Internet-based terrorists succeed in carrying out their doomsday fire sale attack on the United States over the 4th of July weekend?

This is a standard action movie with big explosions, ludicrous plots elements featuring good old clichés such as the kidnapping of the hero’s loved ones and the martial arts Asian second in command. Live Free or Die Hard was the type of film that was supposed to be pushed aside by more innovative films, such as the Matrix. What it lacks in execution finesse, it makes up for in simplicity and a good yarn movie.

The first Die Hard movies were successful because they featured a struggling man trying to do right. Here, we never doubt that McLane will eventually save the day. It’s just a question of how long it will take. This sense of inevitability robs the viewer of any fun. For example, when McLane’s daughter shouts to him that there are but five villains left to kill, everyone knows, the villains included, that they are living on borrowed time. When Thomas Gabriel, the villain, fails to shoot either McLane or his daughter quickly, preferring to let them live and go on a bad guy’s exposition sequence, the writing was already on the wall for him.

That McLane had to explain, within the movie to the audience why Gabriel still kept the daughter alive is a real failure of the film. Frankly, just for once, I would have like to see the hero just die and the villain just win at the end of the movie. Seriously, there is no reason why Gabriel’s plot failed here. And the tricks McLane used to take out the helicopter and each of Gabriel’s men feels more like watching a bad video game than an action movie. The Die Hard franchise should have been left to die, real hard.

Visually, the fights’ choreography and everything else are doused in “modern cinematic aestheticism.” That means the fights are better than in the past and the photography and special effects are bigger and meaner than anything we saw previously. The French villains are all experts in Yamakasy, the French urban climbing sport. The Asian villain knows all the good kung fu moves. Yet for all the visual qualities of this film, it’s still impossible to be immersed in its world. This film is not even rental worthy.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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