What do you get when you combine the director of “Underworld,” an inexperienced screenwriter and a fifty-plus year old Bruce Willis?
Apparently you get a pretty damn good action flick.
“Live Free or Die Hard” is the fourth entry in the series, and despite releasing 12 years after “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” the film is
second to only the original.
Willis returns in his career-defining role as John McClane and is just as sharp and action-worthy as ever, although he does sport less hair.
Mark Bomback’s script provides a cool techno-terror plot as the background for the action. The plot preys on the fears of those who feel
we have become too reliant on computers and the internet. It also develops characters, is very funny and contains some phenomenal
action set pieces as an added bonus.
Len Wiseman, who has often been overly criticized for the decent “Underworld” films, does a fantastic job balancing the film between
disaster, comedy, and good old buddy action. Wiseman’s action sequences are brilliantly directed with more than a few stunning moments.
The sequences are close to going over-the-top at times, but never cross the line into absurdity.
But all the elements of the film are able to gel together because Willis is still so good as this character. I always thought John McClane was
a far better character than anyone in the rival “Lethal Weapon” movies and it’s a treat to see him tear up the screen again in such a worthy
But credit should also be given to Justin Long (the punk from the Mac commercials) as the geeky sidekick. There are many ways the
character could have veered into irritating territory, but Long absolutely nails it. The comedic interplay between him and Willis is
successful at every juncture.
Kevin Smith also turns up in a fun supporting role that his fans will enjoy immensely.
Where the film falters somewhat is with the villains. Maggie Q provides a fun villainess for her part, but Tim Olyphant flounders as the evil
genius Thomas Gabriel. It’s a shame because the series has sported a couple fantastic villains in Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons.
Even without a great baddie “Live Free or Die Hard” is a complete success. It has a cool plot, some great supporting characters,
phenomenal action sequences and, of course, the irreplaceable John McClane. Yippie-ki-yay, indeed!
* * * 1/2
(out of four)
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Written by: Mark Bomback
Starring: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long,
Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Jonathon Sadowski
Cinematography by: Simon Duggan
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Released: June 27, 2007; 130 Minutes