I’ll always remember the original Die Hard as the vehicle that turned Bruce Willis into an action movie superstar. Prior to that 1988 film, he was best known for his role as David Addison on the television series Moonlighting, and for playing the lead in the semi-successful romantic comedy Blind Date (1987). But once Die Hard became an international hit, Willis’ destiny was sealed.
I enjoyed the first three Die Hard movies (though I don’t remember too many specifics from them) and was really looking forward to seeing the fourth installment, called Live Free or Die Hard. This latest film comes a full 12 years after With a Vengeance, but I still had high hopes that it would retain at least some of the fun, humor, and terrific action that made the first three efforts worthwhile. Unfortunately, I left the theater greatly disappointed with what I had just seen.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): The film opens with NYPD detective John McClane breaking up a make-out session on a college campus. It turns out the girl involved is his daughter Lucy (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and she doesn’t exactly appreciate her dad getting involved in her personal life. From the heated exchange that follows, we learn that McClane is divorced from Holly (his wife in the first three movies) and since then he hasn’t spent as much time with his kids as he should have. That pretty much brings us up to speed with McClane’s life.
After that, McClane gets a call over the radio saying that he’s to go pick up a computer hacker named Matt Farrell (Justin Long) and bring him in for questioning. Someone has breached the FBI system, and there are only 1,000 or so people who could have done it. McClane is to transport Farrell to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. for questioning.
McClane doesn’t know why they can’t ask someone else to do it, but he nevertheless follows orders. Of course, the task turns out to be a lot harder than originally anticipated. Shortly after McClane gets to Farrell’s apartment, it’s attacked by a team of snipers who clearly want the kid dead. But McClane manages to get Farrell out, and they head to Washington.
When they arrive in the city, all hell breaks loose. Someone has messed with the traffic signals, causing all stoplights to show green at the same time. There’s immediate confusion and chaos, which forces McClane and Farrell to walk the rest of the way to the FBI. Once they arrive, they see that the computer attacks haven’t stopped. The bad guys mess with the NYSE computers next, and cause a selling frenzy on Wall Street.
After seeing what’s going on, Farrell says that it looks like someone is running a “fire sale” on the country’s computer systems. It’s a textbook attack that first takes out the transportation system, then takes out the financial centers. The final target, the big one, is unclear for the time being, but McClane and Farrell are soon on the case to find out what’s going on.
The rest of the film then deals with McClane’s attempts to locate Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), the man behind the attacks. There follows a whole bunch of unbelievable (I don’t mean “outstanding” here) action seqeunces and fight scenes, plus the kind of resolution you’d expect to see from a Die Hard film.
My Reaction: I thought this was a terrible movie, and I can’t believe all the professional critics out there who are giving it a passing grade! Plus, Live Free or Die Hard has already cracked the IMDB.com top 250, coming in at #204. That has got to be a joke, right?
Look, I understand the concept of summer popcorn movies, and I ordinarily don’t hold these types of movies up to high standards — and I didn’t with this one, either. I went into the movie just hoping to be entertained, but instead found myself shaking my head in complete and utter disbelief at what was unfolding on the screen, which of course took me out of the movie and destroyed the experience.
I don’t normally nitpick these kinds of things, but I cannot believe how many blows the characters were able to take without showing any ill effects. Let’s run them down, shall we?
- In the apartment scene, there’s a huge explosion in the next room (big enough to blow out the windows), but McClane and Farrell are unscathed. Bear in mind that this is a college student’s apartment, meaning it is SMALL.
- In the very next scene, McClane is dragging one of the baddies down an alley. McClane rams the guy into a dumpster, but he’s up a minute later like nothing happened.)
- Don’t even get me started on Maggie Q (Mai Lihn). Her fight scenes with McClane were not the least bit realistic. Not. the. least.
She first gets the crap kicked out of her in a regular fistfight, but manages to get up for more. Then McClane runs into her with an SUV, crashes through walls with her clinging to the hood, and slams into an elevator shaft. Maggie miraculously is not only able to hang onto a dangling cable to save herself from falling to her death, but also has the strength to climb up that cable and FIGHT AGAIN!!
I twist my ankle playing flag football and I’m incapacitated for a week. These friggin’ people go through all that and aren’t even out of breath????
- WTF was up with the F35 scenes? Flying under highway overpasses? That’s some pretty sweet maneuvering there. That pilot should be with the Blue freakin’ Angels for God’s sake. And did I really see the plane hovering at one point (as though it were a helicopter)?? Is that possible???
- I can’t even list all the injuries McClane sustained throughout the movie. I mean, a couple other reviewers said his character turned into the Terminator, and that’s pretty much what it seemed like.
Sorry to be such a buzzkill here, but Live Free or Die Hard sucked! I give it 2 stars out of 5 and advise you not to waste your time or money on it. Wait for the DVD if you have to, but there’s really no need to see it in the theater.