Live Free or Die Hard

As technology has advanced and computer animation has taken over action movies, actual stunts, explosions, and general mayhem have given way to artificial ones.  This is not the case with Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth installment in the Die Hard Series.  This movie comes out over a decade after Die Hard:  With a Vengeance, and for all intents and purposes, feels like a dinosaur what with an old franchise and an older star.  But something weird happened - Live Free or Die Hard is just as fun and loud as its predecessors, and brings a breath of fresh air in the stale action movie genre by returning to real stunt work.  In the meantime, Bruce Willis (Nancy Drew, Perfect Stranger) has gone from mega-action star wannabe to a surprisingly sophisticated and underrated actor.  By stepping back into the role of John McClane, Willis, with much more experience under his belt, and a bit more world-weary, makes himself and his character a bit more believable.

"Believable" and "Die Hard" are always an amusing combo, because the latter seems to pride itself on being as far-fetched as possible, with the slightest shred of reason in its plot.  Live Free or Die Hard was inspired by John Carlin's article "A Farewell to Arms" and written by David Marconi (Enemy of the State) and Mark Bomback (Godsend), and deals with the fallout of an attack on all of the nation's computer systems.  What would happen if every single computer network went offline?  This means no phones, control over traffic lights, massive chaos for air traffic control, and all sorts of other assorted mayhem.

How does NYPD detective McClane fit into all of this?  He was asked to escort a suspect into federal custody.  This suspect is Matt Farrell (Justin Long, Idiocracy, Accepted), a computer hacker who may or may not be connected to the attack.  Before they can even begin making their way into custody, armed gunmen attack and attempt to kill Farrell (and just so people know, Long's character uses a Mac).  The two escape, of course, and begin making their way towards the FBI.  Director Len Wiseman (Underworld:  Evolution, Underworld) makes his way along the standard template, with stunt and action sequences increasing in scope and intensity from that point on.

Wiseman's only real experience up to this point has been the two Underworld films.  Live Free or Die Hard is a huge step up on nearly every level, and Wiseman succeeds.  The film moves quickly, but could use about a twenty minute trim.  The point is not to get bogged down in plot, but the marvel at how ridiculous the stunts are (e.g. semi truck vs. fighter plane).  The script also gives Willis a few one-liners that lighten the mood.  The addition of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Grindhouse, Factory Girl) as McClane's daughter doesn't work to well, but the inclusion of French parkour sensation Cyril Raffaelli (District B13, Crimson Rivers 2) brings a nice, fluid sense to the fight sequences.  Willis supposedly balked many times at making a fourth Die Hard movie.  He was waiting for the right script to come along.  While Live Free or Die Hard may not be a great movie, it is one that ensures that the Die Hard franchise could revisit theaters again.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
2 hours, 10 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, language, and a brief sexual situation.

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