At this point the character of officer John McClane from the “Die Hard” series has become a human cartoon character. You can drop him down an elevator shaft, slam him into a wall, make him jump off of a bridge, beat the hell out of him and he just snaps back like Yosemite Sam in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. If they made a sequel to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” the man would have to have a guest appearance.
So, with that in mind, if you walk into one of these movies expecting things like realism and real-life potential, you are walking into the wrong movie. Quite possibly, down the road, is the movie “A Mighty Heart” and that is full of so much realism, hardly anyone wants to see it. So, go down there and support independent film and Angelina Jolie so she can adopt fifty more foreign children. If you want a lot of action with very little plot, bad guys who are really bad and some of the most insane stunts you are likely to see, then you step right into “Live Free or Die Hard.”
Bruce Willis is back and he is bald and he may be a lot older than when McClane first walked into Nakotomi Tower in the first movie, but he is the same John McClane. He can still kick ass and he has, at this point, gone right into super hero status. This is the character Willis played in “Unbreakable” without the green plastic poncho.
This time he is not trapped in a tower or airport, but it is more like the previous sequel, “Die Hard with a Vengeance” and he is all over the place. The terrorist this time is Tim Olyphant who is fresh from playing the character of Seth Bullock in “Deadwood” and clean-shaven and trying to hold the country ransom. See, he is a guy who tried to warn the country that we were open to a cyber attack and he wants to make a point. He plans on shutting down the entire country through the use of hackers. In fact, he has used hackers to help him get into every secured system in the country, killed most of the hackers and now plans to hold the country for ransom.
Well, OK, maybe not for ransom. He isn’t exactly a James Bond villain. The thing with every “Die Hard” movie is that whatever the terrorists seem to be about at first, in reality they are just trying to steal money. So, you know that money is probably the root cause here.
The plot is not what you go to these movies for. You go to see things like John McClane taking out a helicopter using a car. You go to see him dodging and fighting a jet fighter, ending up on the plane and then jumping off of the plane, dodging an explosion and surviving. He manages to get a limp in this one and develops a lot of blood, but he never gets sick, or really hurt.
He is sent to New Jersey to pick up one of the hackers on the list to be whacked. This sets up a new partner for John, after we had Samuel L. Jackson in the previous one. This time it is a guy named Matthew played by Justin Long. You may know Justin as the “Mac” on those “Mac/PC” commercials. He manages to be a nerdy and nervous as he always is and comes up with some of the best lines.
Needless to say the action is non-stop. It barely lets you catch your breath before hurtling you headlong into the next action sequence. The viewer is hurtled from a car chase into a foot chase. There is one interesting exception.
McClane’s indestructibility seems to be catching. Not only does Long end up doing some huge falls with nary a scratch, but the villains seem almost cartoon-like as well. Villains jump out of helicopters and then jump to their feet. They are slammed hard and fast into walls and garbage dumpsters and come away only with a small scratch on their foreheads. Maggie Q gets slammed full-speed by a van and still manages to hold on and do some kung fu at John. Everyone in this movie apparently is made of rubber.
Beyond that, I don’t know what else to tell you about this movie. If you are a fan of the “Die Hard” movies, as I am, you will enjoy this movie. You need to completely suspend your disbelief before you enter the theater. Those of you looking for logic and realism, again, check out “Sicko” from Michael Moore. I hear that’s very real.
Those of you looking for a lot of action and lots and lots and LOTS of things blowing up, then this is the movie for you. I was certainly entertained and never bored despite the length of the film. The director of this one is Len Wiseman from the “Underworld” movies so you know it will be high on action, low on plot and logic, and low on bright colors. He definitely likes people to dress in muted colors and he does so here as well.
Everyone seems to be having fun. I have heard some say it looks like Willis is not having any fun anymore. I don’t know what movie they were watching, because it looks to me like he is having a blast.
Compared to the other movies, where does this one stand? For me, the best is still the first one. Alan Rickman just makes such a fantastic villain, it has been hard to match that. Jeremy Irons came the closest and, for me, “Die Hard with a Vengeance” is still the second best. Then, I would put “Live Free or Die Hard” in the third position. For me, the weakest has always been “Die Hard II” whose plot and villain I cannot even remember (it involved an airport, I think).
So, if you like Bruce and his character of John McClane, you will have a blast. I did. Just don’t complain about the realism once its over.