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Overall Rating
3.23

Awesome: 9.82%
Worth A Look45.54%
Just Average: 14.29%
Pretty Crappy: 18.75%
Sucks: 11.61%

9 reviews, 58 user ratings


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Live Free or Die Hard
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by brianorndorf

"The day the man tore the balls off the 'Die Hard' franchise"
2 stars

It’s been 12 years since “Die Hard With a Vengeance” exploded into theaters and I’ve missed my old pal John McClane like an absentee father. A working class quipster with a mean streak a mile wide, McClane represents the ideal antithesis to the strapping, indefatigable superhero, involved in a bone fide classic (1988’s “Die Hard”), a merrily fun rehash (1990’s “Die Hard 2: Die Harder”), and a sweaty, barnstorming, pitch-perfect trilogy closer (1995’s “Vengeance”).

Now it’s 2007, and John McClane is a changed man. Trapped in a cinematic world that’s reliant on CG ephemera and a backed by a studio wary of excluding youngsters (the new film is rated, ahem, PG-13!), our fatigued hero returns to the big screen, and it just isn’t the same.

Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) is a computer mastermind who wants to bring America to its knees. Using his hacking skills, Gabriel slowly shuts down the country while trying to exterminate the competition. On that list is Matt Farrell (Justin Long, in what amounts to a co-starring role), a pasty, Red Bull-swilling nerd who is now a major target for assassination. Sent to retrieve Matt is Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis), who becomes the hacker’s protector when all hell breaks loose. In an effort to save the world, Matt and McClane travel all over Washington D.C. and surrounding network hot spots to stop Gabriel and prevent the financial structure of America from being wiped out.

So, the film stars Bruce Willis, features multiple objects and buildings going kablooey, and has “Die Hard” in the title. However, I couldn’t detect much “Die Hard” in this mediocre picture. Instead of pulse-pounding excitement, a sense of claustrophobia and threat, and carefully portioned violence, we have a distressingly one-note creation that doesn’t take many artistic gambles and lacks even the most fundamental imagination for two-fisted mayhem. It’s a Michael Bay-lite version of a cinematic cornerstone, and it’s one of the bigger disappointments of this year.

A majority of the poison invading “Live Free” stems from a lack of McClane in the film’s diet. Sure, Willis is all over this baby, but the presence, the sheer balls of the character has trouble finding a spot inside all the technological gobbledygook and director Len Wiseman’s insistence on a stunt sequence every 15 minutes (you could set your watch to it). Instead of McClane in over his bloodied head, praying for a miracle, we have the character on the fringe of all the excitement, balancing between his confused Luddite charms and his classic Jersey attitude. McClane almost feels like the bouncer of the film, called in to provide the combat while the rest of the actors get to play a more important role in the plot.

The beauty of the “Die Hard” franchise was that it put McClane first, and built a world of hurt around him. “Live Free” uses the character simply as an exclamation point, pulling out the one-liners and tough guy touchstones to please the faithful, but adding no sense of purpose. “Live Free” comes dangerously close to self-parody at too many junctures, even pushing McClane’s daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) into the mix for cheap laughs. By the time the battered cop throws down his signature “Yippee Ki-Yay” line (neutered in the film by a gunshot sound effect), it all has the cultural and bruiser appeal of hearing Gary Coleman bust out “Wat’choo Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis!” for the millionth time.

Wiseman may claim to have “Die Hard” in his blood, but he misinterprets the franchise with “Live Free.” His foot is constantly on the accelerator in a bid to please the action fans with robust scenes of destruction and hand-to-hand combat. “Live Free” is a massive film in scale, but it soon resorts to noise to hoist its energy up. There’s no rolling sense of danger in the film, and Wiseman could learn a thing or two from John McTiernan on the power of creating desperation. “Live Free” is easily the most coldly calculated film of the series, reducing the bloated plot to fragmented pieces of exposition and our beloved hero to a cameo amidst all the fireballs and carefully arranged disaster areas.

Also of some concern is the lack of a genuine villain. I have no idea what gave the producers the idea of bringing Olyphant on as the heavy, but he predictably drops the ball in such a critical role. He’s a kitten rolling around with a lion, playing constipated aggravation badly when he should be create a bigger dent in the threat factor. We know McClane is going to save the day, but it shouldn’t be a forgone conclusion the minute Olyphant shows up looking like a Starbucks manager on a particularly itchy morning shift. McClane deserves a more powerful and charismatic foe than this.

Wiseman redeems this issue with one bit of inspired casting. Putting French actor Cyril Raffaelli in a supporting role as McClane’s most nimble nemesis, the “District B13” star gets to strut some terrific, gravity-defying moves that confuses our hero, and throws in something vaguely resembling creativity and invention in a very leaden film.

As for the rating issue, it’s a bigger deal than Fox and Willis would like you to believe. While the PG-13 allows for head-bashings and gunplay, it robs the film of the visceral agony that defined the earlier installments. In “Live Free” the bad guys expire off screen or they bleed black blood (or no blood at all). Also pushed out of the script is the language. If you ask me, a potty mouth is what gave McClane his spark; he was a cursing machine, giving smirking focus to his frustrations and spicing up his comebacks. There’s little of that in “Live Free,” which feels alien to a series of films that were defined by their profane brutality and careless misbehavior.

Perhaps “Live Free” will please the average audience member looking for cheap thrills to beat the summer heat. I respect that, and I wish them well. However, I fear the more hardcore followers of the series will have a harder time swallowing this troubling sequel. At the very least, “Live Free or Die Hard” will have the viewer looking back fondly at the three previous movies (not a bad batting average). You’d think with 12 years to cook something up, they could do better than this.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15580&reviewer=404
originally posted: 06/27/07 03:04:27
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User Comments

2/09/14 Ukwhyere USA 2 stars
1/16/14 Cephiobu USA 2 stars
7/07/12 BongThom Perfect review. 1 stars
2/02/11 Richard79 Almost unidentifiable as a Die Hard. Just another superhero movie for teenagers. 1 stars
12/16/10 fartvenugen preposterous and completely lame. 1 stars
10/26/10 Stirling Review by brianorndorf is spot on 1 stars
10/16/10 Stirling Spot on review. Disgraceful sequel. Die Hard 5? No Thanks! 1 stars
10/10/10 Eduardo It features the most stupid plot ever. Even an action movie has to have a plot, this doesnt 1 stars
12/23/09 brian i hope they make another one so everyone will be yelling "please die already!" 2 stars
12/03/09 R.W. Welch Too over-the-top to really get into, but lively enough. C+ 3 stars
9/30/09 Zefram Way better than expected. 4 stars
8/19/09 Jeff Wilder Gets the job done. Better than the second. But not as good as the original or third. 3 stars
10/09/08 jojo22 i loved it!! go BRUCE! 4 stars
9/26/08 Ian Can you explain why Asian hooker jokes are funny and not racist? 2 stars
7/24/08 Adam Too much of a mockery and an insult to the Die Hard series. 2 stars
7/21/08 the dork knight I am a staunch defender of Die hard 3. But not this one 2 stars
5/13/08 PAUL SHORTT CLATTERS NOISILY DOWN THE LIFT SHAFT INTO OBLIVION 2 stars
3/30/08 Monday Morning I don't want to spoil it for anyone but Bruce Willis and The Mac Guy save America. YAY!!!! 3 stars
3/14/08 Lucifugerofocale Brilliant took an out of date franchise and revamped for the modern audience 5 stars
3/02/08 ladavies If you like non stop action you will love this 4 stars
2/07/08 Anthony Feor Bruce Willis obviously knows how to keep tradition alive 4 stars
1/25/08 Tim A compleIe sellout and ludicrous in the extreme. Sinks a series that started off great. 1 stars
1/17/08 X Wang Decent action movie - obiviously not as great as the previous ones 4 stars
12/29/07 Austin Wertman loved it 5 stars
12/20/07 MP Bartley Decent enough, but too tame to really thrill. Smith's cameo is horrendous. 3 stars
12/12/07 ES Sadly the best part of this film was that it could be turned off. Die Hard has finally die 2 stars
12/04/07 dude loved it 5 stars
11/25/07 Servo Worst of the Die Hard flicks ... means it's still well worth watching 3 stars
11/19/07 Matt Plain impossible, plain daft-but who cares? Great fun, welcome back Bruce! 4 stars
11/16/07 mr.mike Willis and the movie are great.The ending borrows from "License To Kill" 4 stars
11/04/07 mb Love Bruce Willis. Awsome action movie from begining to end. 5 stars
10/05/07 Descent Passable but lacking in genuine tension and drive 3 stars
9/19/07 Johnnyfaye Okay plane and simple, if you didn't like this movie than you're not a die hard fan. 3 stars
9/05/07 Charles R.L.Power Clichéd and implausible, but carries the viewer along anyway 3 stars
9/02/07 Drooch Shallow, noisy cream-puff for teens. Total sellout. Where's the real McLane? 1 stars
8/30/07 Alex Hosking Nonestop computer enhanced action from beginning to end. A total waste of time. 1 stars
8/26/07 Private Obtuse and absurd but still manages to be moderately entertaining genre film. 3 stars
8/14/07 jimmy This movie was just a tv movie of the week with a 100 million budget and Bruce Willis in it 1 stars
8/06/07 David Graham Best of the sequels, an action flick to die hard 4. 5 stars
7/29/07 matt the swearing and smoking has to return in 5..sort it out fox 4 stars
7/28/07 Jiz Delivers the goods, Justin Long is a terrible actor though. 4 stars
7/28/07 Harry An insult to the series...shame 1 stars
7/21/07 jdm I loved it, non-stop action start to finish, best of the summer so far 5 stars
7/21/07 ben dover mclane is the man fantastic 5 stars
7/19/07 Brian Mckay The Techbabble is almost as retarded as on "24", but I don't watch porno for the plot, dig? 4 stars
7/16/07 Alexander Not a classic, but so wasn't the third one. Oldschoold action-movie with not too much CGI. 4 stars
7/04/07 Quigley Just go see it for the car crashes, stunts, explosions, and...of course...John McClane. 4 stars
7/04/07 damalc just more of the same for John McClane 2 stars
7/04/07 zaw Action Packed as I expected!!!! 5 stars
7/01/07 ahnold It was ok. Formulaic plot lines hurt movie (e.g.daughter=hostage);as did impossible escapes 3 stars
6/30/07 CrazyJayy Never thought twice about the PG13 or 12 years ago...this was fun--point blank!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/29/07 Blizz A total disgrace to the series, no matter what anyone else says...don't listen! 1 stars
6/28/07 KingNeutron Unabashed 5 *'s, hopefully the DVD will give us the Director's cut. 5 stars
6/28/07 Ole Man Bourbon It's what it should be, good action, good performances by Willis and Long. 4 stars
6/28/07 Mick A bunch of flag waving crap that is so 80's. 1 stars
6/28/07 Matt I thought this was a good movie true to the franchise. PG-13 may have cripled it somewhat. 4 stars
6/27/07 Steve Big fan of the series and disagree with the reviewer. I thought it was great! 5 stars
6/27/07 Paul Might not be "artistic" but it was a lot of fun to watch from beginning to end. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jun-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Nov-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-Aug-2007



[trailer] Trailer


Directed by
  Len Wiseman

Written by
  Mark Bomback

Cast
  Bruce Willis
  Justin Long
  Maggie Q
  Timothy Olyphant
  Mary Elizabeth Winstead



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