Thursday, July 05, 2007

Review: Live Free or Die Hard

Ah, summer. When life slows down and the summer crop of films requires no thinking for the viewing public. Following "Fantastic Four" and "Oceans Thirteen" (among others), comes another popcorn film, "Live Free or Die Hard."

Bruce Willis returns to the role that propelled him from primetime tv star to movie star (Can you believe that was in 1988?!) - John McClane, officer with the NYPD who always seems to find epic trouble. This time out, he's asked to escort a computer hacker to DC after it appears he was involved in a glitch in the nation's computer systems. When McClane arrives, he must protect the kid (played by "Mac" from the tv commercials, Justin Long) from a death squad, sent by the mastermind of a plan to cripple the country by crippling the country's computers. McClane and Matt end up playing the cavalry, stepping in to find and stop the cyber-terrorists.

Willis has the part of McClane down pat. There is no need for exposition or character development - it's an action movie that doesn't aspire for more. There are some nice moments between Willis and Long, and between Willis and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his daughter Lucy. I am crazy about Kevin Smith, so I really enjoyed his appearance as one of Matt's hacker buddies. But I have to agree with other reviewers who have called Timothy Olyphant's role as the baddie weak. Of course, no one can measure up to the original "Die Hard's" villain, Alan Rickman, but I never got the hate on for Olyphant's Gabriel.

Incredible special effects and cgi work. The stunts were unbelievable - really, a lot were totally unbelievable. But you must suspend your sense of disbelief in these movies. Willis clearly was having a great time making the film, and he's in good enough shape that his participation in some of the wacky stunts is believable.

You won't find the answer to the world's problems, you won't weep from some personal revelation you receive through the film's message, but you will find a fun 2 hour break from the summer heat. Light entertainment with no after effects.



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