327 – Live Free or Die Hard

I ask you, could anyone BUT Bruce Willis play John McClane? Of course not. Even twelve years after his last appearance, McClane is still the all-American, G.I. Joe, Bad Guy killah with a soft spot for his family but also for Doing the Right Thing. Here, he’s up against a madman (Timothy Olyphant) bent on virtually hacking his way into the U.S. infrastructure to prove some kind of point, or something. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. All that matter is that McClane kicks ass. That’s all we want to see.

All McClane has to do, see, is pick up a kid in Camden, New Jersey, and schlep him down to Washington in the middle of the night. Sounds like a job for a rookie cop, right, but of course a senior detective was requested. And it seems this kid, Matt Farrell (Justin Long) is some kind of super-sekrit hacker dude person who’s wanted for questioning by the FBI, something about a major attack on government computers earlier that day. Of course, other people are looking for Farrell (i.e., the bad guys), and they blow everything up trying to get him and, by extension, McClane. They fail.

Then the madman, Thomas Gabriel, sets his evil, evil plan further in motion by causing all of the traffic lights in DC to go green. Cackling with glee, he causes the stocks at the NYSE to plummet! Mass chaos ensues! Meanwhile, McClain’s trying to shepherd his young charge to various government offices, trying to find a safe place for him. There aren’t any.

Of course, at some point it gets personal between McClane and Gabriel, so the bad guy nabs McClane’s teenage daughter, Lucy. Why do bad guys do this? Do they really think the hero will be all, “Oops, you win, I give up!” because his family’s in jeopardy? Don’t evil villains watch movies? Gabriel’s lucky, though, because he has a chief minion who can kick ass, Mai (Maggie Q). Naturally, at some point she goes womano-a-mano with McClane, but the only reason she does as well as she does is that a) she’s a woman, so she’s not your typical henchman and b) she knows kung fu. I mean, of course she does, she’s Asian. They all know that stuff, right?

A lot of things blow up. You might have seen the trailer, in which McClane speeds a cop car out of a tunnel, and jumps out at the last minute as the car slams into the side of a hovering helicopter. Pretty nifty stuff, if not even a little believable. Often, McClane will do something that winds up hurting him pretty bad, with blood dripping down his face and all, but he’s fine, no, let him just walk it off.. or jump down a flight of stairs, or run down the street. It’s all good, because he’s the hero. We expect him to shrug off pain and injury to vital organs. But when the pilot of the chopper falls at least thirty feet and is perfectly okay, I dunno, I’m a little skeptical.

But it’s okay, because little implausibilities won’t bother you. The thing to note is that Willis, his smirk, his I-ain’t-taking-no-crap attitude, they’re all back. And, good news, there aren’t a lot of side comments about McClane’s age, mostly because he kicks the asses of people half as old. Willis looks like he’s still in tip top fighting shape. He’s not paunchy, or graybearded. He looks a lot like he did in 1995, so good on him.

Wonderful visual effects and another gritty, appealing, and above all fresh performance from Willis, who clearly looks into the role – he’s not sleepwalking through it, as you might expect an aging action star to do, just collecting a paycheck. I swear, the man looks like he’s enjoying gettting shot at. He rocks. But it wouldn’t matter how into the role Willis was if the plot was too convoluted to follow, or too simplistic to warrant attention, or if the rest of the cast was so wooden that you kind of wished they’d all get mowed down. And that’s where Long came in. Part victim, part sidekick, total hacker, Long was perfectly cast, a good complement – useful without being annoying. Tough to find people like that in action movies.

***

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3 Responses to “327 – Live Free or Die Hard”

  1. Ann Says:

    Gonna go see it tonight. Sounds like my kind of movie!

  2. frothy Says:

    I’m sure you’ll love it!

  3. coldleftovers Says:

    I liked Live Free or Die Hard…Check out my review at Cold Leftovers.
    As action movies go, it was pretty good, i think. Maybe not the best of the four, but worthy of the Die Hard name…

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