Live Free or Die Hard review by The Grim Ringler

Our parents have one truth when we’re young that seems to stand above all others, a truth that we scoff at, yet which stands strong all the same - there can truly be too much of a good thing. Maybe it’s that pizza that you ate one too many slices of, that bread bowl you had to finish off, or that last piece of cake that didn’t quite sit well, you can definitely over-do it if you are not careful. Welcome to Die Hard 4. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, but it’s an unnecessary movie, and as such, leaves the series with a bit of a bellyache and leaves us feeling bloated.

John McClain (the Bruce), American hero though he may be, is just a cop. He’s a good cop, probably one of New York’s finest, but he’s just a cop. Having finally lost his wife to divorce, and being estranged from his children, his job is all he has, and that’s not saying much. When he’s sent to take a computer hacker into custody after some strange computer dealings start creeping across the country he is once again thrust into the role of hero. This hacker had been part of a group of testers that had created the codes necessary to help break the computer backbone of America, now that things are underway though, he’s unnecessary and assassins are sent to dispatch him. Lucky for him (Justin Long) McClain arrives when he does, in order to save him from the well armed and better trained killers. What McClain doesn’t know, and the whole of the United States is about to learn is that this hacker one was but piece of a larger plan that hopes to cripple America through its technology. The terrorist group in charge of this attack has planned what is known as a ‘fire sale’ in which every aspect of America is attacked via its technology. Naturally, while things begin to shut down, and the country starts to stall out, it’s a man of action, McClain, that comes through when the country needs him most. Taking the war to the terrorists, McLain, with the help of the hacker, start moving back down the chain of events to find where the group is and what they plan next. Things get personal though when John’s daughter is kidnapped and it is then that he is truly at his best. <>What can I say, if you have seen the trailers then you know what to expect from this one. This is what it is – a hollow action film. Not a bad film at all, but there is nothing new here. McClain, as he has become here, is sort of the spirit of a modern day Captain America if you will. He is relentless when he turns his gaze towards those that threaten what he stands for, and he is all but indestructible, shrugging off injuries and pushing forward. I actually enjoyed the film more when I looked at it in this light – seeing John as a sort of spirit of vengeance. There is a definite tinge of jingoism here, to be sure, but the flag-waving is kept to a minimum and the film focuses more on McClain and his journey.

So what’s good – the action is good. There are explosions and fights a’plenty and all of them, though ridiculous, are very well done. One sequence in particular, where McClain drives an SUV through a factory and lands it in an elevator shaft, is fantastic. I just wish it had been shot better. Great tension though. Willis is wonderful and I just wish he’d been given more to work with. He knows this character so well that he deserved more meat to the part. Justin Long is rather good here as well, adding a bit more depth than I would have expected from his character. There are a few great one-liners as well. And honestly, the PG-13 didn’t really hurt the film, which was a pleasant surprise for me.

The bad starts with the direction. It’s not that director Wiseman did a poor job, but that his shot choices and style didn’t fit the film. He pushes too hard to make the film exciting when it should be exciting just as it is. Worse are the villains, who are faceless and really have no life to them. Timothy Olyphant isn’t bad per se but his character is. He’s a throwaway villain with no real depth and, compared to the villains we’ve had in the series, is a pale comparison. It drove me mad too that nothing was mention of McClain’s past. I mean, for god’s sake, even if the idea is that you do good things, heroic things because you have to, I mean, the dude has done SO much you’d think he’d be a bit more famous than he is. What irked me most was the dreadful technology. I can appreciate the idea of playing fast and loose with the tech stuff, as most people aren’t up on how it all works, but seriously, since when can you mysteriously plug a tech device into a laptop and then hack it and several top secret files? In this world everything can be broken into if you are simply clever, and while that may serve the plot, it doesn’t serve the film.

I really wanted to see this film but sadly it was what I expected – good at best. Willis raises this above a five, but it’s all him. I HATED the editing, as man alive, there are scenes, and too many of them, when people are talking and the camera cuts away, and you can tell it’s not the same moment as we just saw, then it cuts back and the mouths are not synced. Are you kidding me? There is a lot of fun to be had here, and it’s got some great moments, but that they didn’t take a risk with the ending, and that the villains are SO bland didn’t really endear the film to me. Is it a failure? No, just needless, but welcome to Hollywood.


6 out of 10 Jackasses

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