Bottom Line: It’s about time!
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Andrew Friedman, Bruce Willis, Cliff Curtis, Cyril Raffaelli, Jonathan Sadowski, Justin Long, Kevin Smith, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant, Yorgo Constantine
I’m a die-hard fan of 1988’s DIE HARD. Everything about that classic is unique, original fun, set against style and two full hemispheres of a brain. It’s rare to find an actioner so well made. After two disappointing sequels, I was worried about the series’s fourth entry. Whether it was due to my low expectations or because this was simply a great film, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD is a definite step up from its two predecessors, making it almost as much fun as the original.
LIVE FREE returns with NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) taking down an organization of terrorists once again. The film was released in 2007, so you kind of have to expect a modern day spin: the terrorists are now computer hackers making insidious attempts to shut down Washington, D.C., followed by the entire United States of America. What’s such a relief about this 21st century update to the series is that despite it being high-tech, everything that made DIE HARD stick out amongst a sea of action films is brought back. The thrilling plot, the strategic action sequences, and the witty one-liners all guarantee the intelligent fun delivered back in 1988. One would think that with a new PG-13 rating, the film would suffer and lose its sense of gritty adventure, but this fourth entry actually does just as well as when the idea was first presented nineteen years ago, without excessive blood or profanities.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD was not perfect. The usual batch of great performances was possessed, but the one by Justin Long stood out as a contrary misfire. The Independence Day setting was fitting for the plot, but any DIE HARD fan probably hoped for something around Christmas. Still, this is lots of fun. LIVE FREE may not be as legendary as DIE HARD, but as of now, it is the only fully worthwhile sequel in the series.