Live Free or Die Hard

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PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The FBI responds to a brief computer outage at their Cyber-Security Division by tracing down top computer hackers, finding several of them have been killed. Taking others into protective custody, the FBI orders NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) to collect Matthew “Matt” Farrell (Justin Long). McClane arrives in time to prevent Farrell from being killed by an assassin, Mai Linh (Maggie Q), working for Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). En route to Washington DC, Farrell explains he had written a portion of security code for a large sum of money from Mai.

As they arrive in DC, Gabriel orders his own crew of hackers to take control of the transportation grids and stock market, while nationally broadcasting a message threatening the United States. Farrell recognizes this as the start of a “fire sale”, an attack designed to target the nation’s reliance on computer controls, such that “everything must go”. McClane and Farrell are taken by police escorts to the secured FBI headquarters, but Mai, using the hijacked grids, reroutes the convoy into the path of an assault helicopter. McClane is able to take down the helicopter by launching a police car over a damaged toll booth into it. As McClane and Farrell recover, Gabriel initiates a second broadcast, showing a simulated explosion of the United States Capitol building, sending the public into panic. Farrell recognizes that the next target of the “fire sale” is likely the power grid, and the two drive to a utility superstation in West Virginia. They find a team led by Mai breaking into the station’s controls. McClane is able to kill the entire team, including Mai, and obtain video footage of Gabriel, which they relay to FBI headquarters. Enraged over Mai’s death, Gabriel uses remote control of the station to redirect the natural gas supply into it. McClane and Farrell escape before the station explodes, leaving much of the eastern seaboard without power.

Farrell directs McClane to a fellow hacker, Frederick “Warlock” Kaludis (Kevin Smith), in Baltimore. Warlock, running his computer systems from several generators, identifies the piece of code Farrell wrote as a means to access data at a Social Security Administration building at Woodlawn, Maryland. They realize this building is a front for a National Security Agency government facility, designed by Gabriel to download all personal and financial records in case of a cyber-security emergency such as this one generated by Gabriel himself. Warlock is also able to explain Gabriel’s motivation: a talented hacker, he was once a top expert for the Department of Defense. However, Gabriel was fired and his reputation was tarnished when he tried to sound the alarm about America’s vulnerability to cyber-warfare. Gabriel detects Warlock’s hack and speaks with him, Farrell, and McClane, and reveals that he has kidnapped McClane’s estranged daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

McClane and Farrell race to the Woodlawn facility. As McClane deals with Gabriel’s men, Farrell discovers that Gabriel is downloading all the information onto a portable computer system, and he is able to encrypt the data after it is completed. Gabriel is forced to take Farrell as they escape the facility. McClane follows, hijacking Gabriel’s semi and gains Warlock’s help to trace Gabriel’s own vehicle. With McClane in pursuit, Gabriel hacks into the military’s computers to deceive a United States Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II pilot into believing that McClane is a terrorist. McClane is able to escape the assault by launching the truck into the aircraft from a highway exit ramp, destroying both. McClane makes his way to a nearby warehouse where Warlock tracked Gabriel to. Though McClane dispatches most of Gabriel’s men, Gabriel’s last henchman, Emerson, wounds him in the shoulder. While Gabriel holds McClane to him at gunpoint, McClane manages to make Gabriel fire the gun through McClane’s wounded shoulder, killing Gabriel. Farrell then kills Emerson after taking McClane’s gun. As the FBI arrives to tend to McClane and Farrell’s wounds and clean up, McClane is displeased to see Lucy and Farrell taking a romantic interest in each other

REVIEW:

More often than not nowadays, studios dust off allegedly “dead” franchises and their stars in order to ignite their careers and hope for a big hit. Usually when they do this, they bring in some hot young actor to add the “young people’s vibe” into things. An example of this would be Shia Leboeuf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. 9 1/2 times out of 10, though, this does nothing but infuriate and alienate the fan base, and ruin (read=kill) the franchise before it can gain any new life. Does Live Free or Die Hard follow suit?

I would be inclined to say so, but everything we like about the first films is still here, though I think they toned down the comedy a bit, and went for a PG-13 rating instead of R, which was a bloody shame, if you ask me.

As an action flick, the Die Hard franchise has been delivering some of the best films of the last 25 or so years, especially when you consider that they use very few CGI effects, which is always a plus for me. If you couple that with the great plot and well-written story that each of these films have had, then it is no wonder that this franchise is so popular and everlasting.

I do have issue with how all 4 of these films seem to follow the same basic formula involving a group of terrorists who capture a building and want insane amounts of money or else people die, and only John McClane can stop them, apparently. That’s a minor complaint, though.

This film, though, brings McClane into the 21st century, by pitting him against cyber terrorists and pairing him with a whiz kid computer hacker. This is all well and good, but did they have to have him insult the music of yesteryear while he was in McClane’s car. Seriously, CCR and music of that era is some great stuff, far superior to anything that has been released since about the mid 90s. Search your feelings, you know it to be true!

While the story is a good one, the pacing is horrible. For some reason, it felt like it was just plodding along throughout the whole of the film, with a couple of exciting explosion scenes here and there. On the flip side, though, isn’t it kind of scary to know that there are people out there so apt at computer hacking that they can literally take down the government with a laptop?

Casting wasn’t bad, but the standout has to be Timothy Olyphant as the villanous Thomas Gabriel. This guy is definitely one of today’s more underrated actors.

Also, it was nice to see Kevin Smith in front of the camera. His character doesn’t seem like much of a departure from his real life self, save for the living with his mom and hacking into government stuff.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead was ok as McClane’s daughter, bt I think it would have been better to have the little girl from the original film to reprise her role, especially since his wife has divorced him. Having her in there would have been a nice sense of continuity.

I would say this was a good conclusion to the franchise, but it was recently announced that there would be a 5th film, so nevermind. Live Free or Die Hard is a really good action flick that, even though it brings in younger characters to inject some youth into things, doesn’t lose site of what made it so successful in the first place. For that reason, you have to at least give this a shot. I can’t say whether you’ll be disappointed or not ,but it is a worth a shot, right?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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3 Responses to “Live Free or Die Hard”

  1. […] in good fun. As can be expected from any film in this franchise, except for that not so memorable Live Free or Die Hard. From beginning to end, this is everything you would want in an action film, including some scenes […]

  2. Under rated movie in my opinion. Especially now that the 5th is out and I think that movie totally missed the point. Good review!

  3. Mystery Man Says:

    thanks! i like all of them in some form or another, but yeah, this one is underrated and unfairly bashed

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