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Live Free or Die Hard

Published June 26, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox.
Live Free or Die Hard Poster Live Free or Die Hard
Die Hard certainly has the best sequel titles of any franchise in history. It was hilarious that they actually called the second one Die Harder. Then when we all thought the third would be Die Hardest, they said, "No, it's Die Hard with a Vengeance!" Live Free or Die Hard is actually the first movie that lives up to the awesomeness of its title.

Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard

It seems like after the second one, they realized it wasn't enough to just put John McClane in another spot with terrorists. It wasn't the same magic and there had to be more to it than that. But solving riddles was a little bit nonsense too. Now it seems like they found a truly threatening story, and within that came up with little Die Hard scenarios to explore in each action sequence.

Wherever action breaks out, McClane improvises with the environment to thwart the bad guys. This adds some finesse to the bigness of the spectacle. Yeah, there's stuff blowing up, but it's blowing up for a really good reason.

Live Free or Die Hard has more explosive action than the first three combined. Of course, the first three were more situational, but it's not a bad thing to go bigger. It doesn't feel like they ran out of ideas. On the contrary, because they push it so hard, Live Free or Die Hard has action so inventive I've never seen anything like it before.

And this is me we're talking about. I've seen every action movie that ever made a dent, all the Hong Kong insanity, every Jackie Chan contraption. I've seen Transformers already and still there are sequences so insane it blew my mind. I love that. I want people to think of things like that. To put it in perspective, the tunnel scene with the car and the helicopter is only the film's second action scene. There's even more crazy sh** to come.

Even the smaller scale stuff is artful. Traffic accidents compound in visually gripping combinations, sometimes as smaller corners of larger frames. For all the talk of the PG-13, there is more carnage in this movie than in any R-rated film I can remember. Really, PG-13 is the new R. They play a sound effect over the MF but you know what he's saying. He still calls people names like jerk-off. I thought that was R-rated. Andrew Dice Clay used to say it so it must be pretty raw. But Lord of the Rings is PG-13 and is that not violent enough for you?

The story is the biggest threat of any Die Hard film. The first three were confined to their locations. This one affects the whole country. It's really about old school versus the new world. As a guy who hates text messaging, I'm glad John McClane can still kick ass.

McClane is in top form. About a third of the way into the movie, he gets delirious, laughing hysterically at danger and talking back to no one in particular. He says being hurt is sexy. He does joke about all the past adventures that have threatened his life and he seems like he's at the point where he's had it with these motherf***in' terrorists in the motherf***in' city.

Justin Long makes all the right jokes and plays the wussy sidekick. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the coolest rebellious daughter ever. Maggie Q is the most heartbreakingly stunning evildoer and Timothy Olyphant is perfectly cool and collected with an answer to every problem McClane creates. Cyril Raffaeli is the French Alexander Godunov. We need those unstoppable killing machines.

There's some corny dialogue about patriotism, FEMA and media stereotypes, but it's part of the fun. Let 'em take a few digs. They're doing an ultimately flag-waving story that says even if the cyberterrorist is right, we still kick his ass. The lament of the hero is well played by Willis.

Now I'm going to have to break my vow of never watching an Underworld movie. Since neither one ever screened for me, I just figured I could let there be an entire franchise I've never seen. I always kind of resented that they thought they could just tell me what I want in an action movie. But if Live Free or Die Hard is an example of Len Wiseman's vision, I'm going to have to get another fix.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox.

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