LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD: 4 STARS
John McClane (Bruce Willis) may be the toughest man ever seen on screen. Over the course of four Die Hard movies he’s been shot, run over with a variety of vehicles, pushed down elevator shafts, blown up, hurled through windows, karate chopped and generally brutalized. In the newest installment of the series, Die Hard or Live Free the punishment continues. He’s older now and a bit of a dinosaur, as one of the bad guys notes, he’s “a Timex watch in a digital world.” That may be true, but like the fabled watch, this guy can take a licking and keep on ticking.
His indestructibleness is a key element to the Die Hard movies. You know nothing catastrophic is ever going to happen to the guy, so the question isn’t will he survive, it’s how will he survive? It doesn’t give anything away to let you know that the good guys win and the bad guys lose at the end of Live Free or Die Hard, you know that going in. What is important here are the stunts, the crazy action scenes and how many things blow up. On those levels the movie delivers.
This time he is up against a group of homegrown terrorists, led by a disgruntled ex-government worker and master computer hacker (Timothy Olyphant). This tech wizard has launched an evil plan to disrupt the entire United States with a massive bit of computer hackery called a “Fire Sale” so named because in order for it to be successful everything must go—telecommunications, gas and electric services, nuclear energy and even satellites. This is a plan twice as evil as anything your average James Bond villain could concoct.
McClane finds himself tangled up in this whole plot when he is ordered by the FBI to contact a young computer hacker (Justin Long, riffing on his smug Mac commercial persona) who may have been an unwitting accessory to the Armageddon. When it becomes clear that the FBI aren’t the only ones interested in him McClane has to unleash his unique brand of survivalist skills to insure that the kid lives and America doesn’t fall victim to a computer geek with a God complex.
There’s no villain as great as Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman in the first Die Hard), or catchphrase as memorable as “yippee-ki-yay…” but the presence of Willis (who has good chemistry with his sidekick Long) makes this a worthwhile sequel.
Lone wolf cop John McClane may be the role Bruce Willis was born to play. Steely-eyed and heroic, he’s a charismatic everyman, who knows how to take down a helicopter with a police car, but who would rather be spending his time with his family if only the bad guys would leave him alone. In his fourth time out as McClane, Willis continues to charm, blending all-out action with sly one-liners and as much sex appeal as one bleeding, beaten man can muster.
Die Hard or Live Free is a fun thrill ride of a movie and the best sequel so far this summer.