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Review: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Feb. 14, 2013by: JimmyO
NOTE: With A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD opening today (read Chris Bumbray's review here), we thought the past four days were the ideal time to revisit the older films from the franchise, so we hope that you enjoyed that trip down memory lane. My review of the latest entry in the franchise will be on the site on Friday.

PLOT: When a now grizzled John McClane is asked to pick up a suspected hacker, per usual he gets more than he bargained for. Once he arrives, the detective and his new “partner” find themselves at the wrong end of the gun – or computer - in the hands of a ruthless cyber terrorist.

REVIEW: Perhaps after twelve years we are a little more cynical. In 1995 with the release of DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE, the character of Detective John McClane had his issues, but he somehow didn’t seem as jaded and dark as he appears in 2007’s LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. In a movie that features the destructive power of technology there is a real sense of loss for the one time “everyman” that was beaten, battered and bruised by the end of each film. It is almost as if he has accepted his fate and developed a superhuman ability to survive nearly every single situation. There are sequences here that would feel right at home in another familiar franchise, namely FINAL DESTINATION but clearly we just don’t see the grisly side of the destruction in a big budget action flick.

Director Len Wiseman is often criticized for his expertly stylistic films because they can feel cold and unapproachable – some would even say they are just plain dumb. Yet I sometimes can appreciate what he has to offer, and that is true of this film as well. The heavy emphasis on how dependent on technology we are seems perfect material for the director. The opening scene here where two computer geeks discover that somebody messed with their PC the hard way is actually quite terrifying. It is unfathomable the real world damage that can happen if somebody decides to hack into somebody else's bank account or worse. The concept here is handled appropriately enough with Wiseman at the helm even if, for better or worse, he had a major part in changing the world in which Willis’ McClane exists - credit must go to the screenwriter Mark Bomback as well as Fox.

What about McClane? Let’s get this straight, Bruce Willis has never let me down with his solid work in these films – and that includes the latest chapter A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. I certainly miss the comedic edge he brought to the first three films because it made him seem very approachable. Yet twelve years after the last film he has become more akin to the typical unstoppable action heroes DIE HARD was seemingly a response to. This guy survives tons of vicious hand-to-hand combat, being thrown out a moving car which he uses to destroy a helicopter and so much more. Is this the same guy that was freaking out over having to walk on glass in the first film? Thankfully Willis is able to pull this character off in his sleep, no matter what the writers have in store for him.

What this DIE HARD does have in common with the three earlier films is a good supporting cast. Justin Long plays a young computer hacker McClane is asked to escort to the police department and he is likable enough. Although there are times that he borders on Kate Capshaw and THE TEMPLE OF DOOM annoying. Even still he offers a little vulnerability that used to be found in the film’s main star. The same can be said about the criminally underused Mary Elizabeth Winstead as McClane’s daughter. She in introduced early on and then simply becomes a pawn in the game being played by the film’s villain, Thomas Gabriel played by the charismatic Timothy Olyphant.

As far as bad guys go, the gun-toting computer experts here are serviceable. Yet as a fan of Olyphant, his character comes across as more of a child throwing a tantrum as opposed to a serious threat. The one nemesis that stands out here is the stunning Maggie Q who is a far more interesting villain than her sniveling boss. Perhaps if this had been any other franchise Olyphant would not have seemed so weak, but looking back on Rickman, Irons and even Sadler, this is not what you’d expect from a DIE HARD movie.

After all these years you have to hand it to this particular franchise, they’ve managed to stay reasonably relevant. You can credit this to taking on original stories and placing them into the DIE HARD-verse. It also may be the fact that the franchise has been allowed to change. I miss the old McClane as much as the next guy, but would that kind of hero in this series still work after twenty-five years? I don’t know about you but if I was constantly having to battle terrorists at inopportune times I would probably grow a little jaded and cold myself.

In the end, Wiseman has crafted a spectacular looking action flick. Much of what you see on-screen is bigger and badder than ever before. While you’ve always had to have a sense of disbelief within DIE HARD, this is especially true here. Willis still brings a lot of character to McClane and the latest tradition of partnering him up with someone younger works well enough with Long. It is however a shame that his own on-screen daughter is wasted but at least there is a fun cameo with Kevin Smith as “Warlock,” the brain that lives in his mothers’ basement. After a few years of adjusting to the redux version of this iconic character, it seems to me he may just be changing with times. One thing though… what the f*ck is with these guys having McClane deciding to stop putting money in the swear jar for this flick. Those little F-bombs’ really have become part of his character that adds to the fun! Yippee ki-yay just ain’t the same without it.

Extra Tidbit: What is your take on LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD?
Source: JoBlo.com

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12:28AM on 02/14/2013
Just got out of Die Hard 5, gotta say it was pretty bad
Just got out of Die Hard 5, gotta say it was pretty bad
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+16
12:38AM on 02/14/2013
I never understood why this film got such a bad rap. I will admit, before this chapter, I wasn't the biggest Die Hard fan. I simply hadn't spent enough time with the series to become one, though I had seen all of the films. But even after watching all of them, I still never understood why people never felt this one fit in. Is it bigger and louder? Yes, of course, every Die Hard is. But even having watched the films back to back (to back to back) this past week, this seems like it DOES fit in
I never understood why this film got such a bad rap. I will admit, before this chapter, I wasn't the biggest Die Hard fan. I simply hadn't spent enough time with the series to become one, though I had seen all of the films. But even after watching all of them, I still never understood why people never felt this one fit in. Is it bigger and louder? Yes, of course, every Die Hard is. But even having watched the films back to back (to back to back) this past week, this seems like it DOES fit in with the others. Willis, to me at least, feels like the same McClane, only with the natural evolution of his character going from a hero who's vulnerable and more human to a grizzled veteran whose been through it all before. To me, this is a solid action film with loads of great action, great actors, and a great transition from the first three films to this new age spin on the series. And this film did a very solid job both at the B.O. and with critics, so I honestly don't understand why it is so many people hate this film.
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12:42AM on 02/14/2013
People will hate me for saying this but I'll say it: This is my favorite in the series.
People will hate me for saying this but I'll say it: This is my favorite in the series.
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12:48AM on 02/14/2013
I've been waiting for this all week. This movie was okay. That's all, that's it. It was a solid action movie featuring Bruce Willis. This was not Die Hard, but it was a decent time at the movies. That is actually the problem. Die Hard was a different franchise for me. It's losing steam and it sucks.
I've been waiting for this all week. This movie was okay. That's all, that's it. It was a solid action movie featuring Bruce Willis. This was not Die Hard, but it was a decent time at the movies. That is actually the problem. Die Hard was a different franchise for me. It's losing steam and it sucks.
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2:35AM on 02/14/2013
I liked this one, I thought it was ludicrous but very entertaining, and Len Wiseman has certainly done worse work. I think Timothy Olyphant was a nicely slimy bad guy, and Maggie Q made for a great henchwoman. There were some great big action sequences too, and even though the CGI was noticeable, it didn't feel too fake and flat. And it's actually much, much better than A Good Day to Die Hard.
I liked this one, I thought it was ludicrous but very entertaining, and Len Wiseman has certainly done worse work. I think Timothy Olyphant was a nicely slimy bad guy, and Maggie Q made for a great henchwoman. There were some great big action sequences too, and even though the CGI was noticeable, it didn't feel too fake and flat. And it's actually much, much better than A Good Day to Die Hard.
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4:14AM on 02/14/2013
They killed it with too much unbelivable action (fighter jet scene!?!!). Also the "hey, it's the digital age - let's fight against hackers" approach was too much on the nose.
They killed it with too much unbelivable action (fighter jet scene!?!!). Also the "hey, it's the digital age - let's fight against hackers" approach was too much on the nose.
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6:13AM on 02/14/2013
Die Hard: 10/10
Die Harder: 8/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 10/10
Live Free Or Die Hard: 8/10
Die Hard: 10/10
Die Harder: 8/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 10/10
Live Free Or Die Hard: 8/10
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10:05AM on 02/14/2013
I'm almost in agrement with you
Die Hard: 10/10
Die Harder: 7/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 10/10
Live Free Or Die Hard: 8/10
I'm almost in agrement with you
Die Hard: 10/10
Die Harder: 7/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 10/10
Live Free Or Die Hard: 8/10
7:13AM on 02/14/2013
I really enjoy Live Free or Die Hard. Honestly, if it's not Bruce Willis/John McClane, I wouldn't enjoy it this much.
I really enjoy Live Free or Die Hard. Honestly, if it's not Bruce Willis/John McClane, I wouldn't enjoy it this much.
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10:39AM on 02/14/2013
You can't say it wasn't entertaining and isn't that what we all want...even John McClane must have days which are better/worse than others this film needs to be cut some slack
You can't say it wasn't entertaining and isn't that what we all want...even John McClane must have days which are better/worse than others this film needs to be cut some slack
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11:02AM on 02/14/2013

I think....

Die hard -10/10
Die hard 2 - 8/10
Die hard with a vengeance - 9.5/10
Die hard 4.0 (that´s the title in my country!) 7.5/10
Great saga. Maybe we need to forget this new movie and keep looking at RED as a more effective take on McClane´s older years as a heroe.

Die hard -10/10
Die hard 2 - 8/10
Die hard with a vengeance - 9.5/10
Die hard 4.0 (that´s the title in my country!) 7.5/10
Great saga. Maybe we need to forget this new movie and keep looking at RED as a more effective take on McClane´s older years as a heroe.

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11:55AM on 02/14/2013

Just a thought

If I had to rank these: Die Hard - 9.5, Die Hard 2 - 7, Die Hard 3 - 8, Die Hard 4 - 7. Having seen the "uncut" version and theatrical I have to say the theatrical plays better. Sorry but listening to ADR cussing while someone looking the other way is not entertaining.

I was thinking, in this McClain is still very much an NYPD detective. What get's me is being this active with 29 years on the force. Think about it in the first it's established he's been a cop for 11 years fast forward 18
If I had to rank these: Die Hard - 9.5, Die Hard 2 - 7, Die Hard 3 - 8, Die Hard 4 - 7. Having seen the "uncut" version and theatrical I have to say the theatrical plays better. Sorry but listening to ADR cussing while someone looking the other way is not entertaining.

I was thinking, in this McClain is still very much an NYPD detective. What get's me is being this active with 29 years on the force. Think about it in the first it's established he's been a cop for 11 years fast forward 18 years to this and there you go. Is he retired in the new one?
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-4
2:03PM on 02/14/2013
Die Hard: 10 / 10
Die Hard 2: 8 / 10
Die Hard With a Vengeance: 10 / 10
Live Free or Die Hard: 2 / 10
Die Hard: 10 / 10
Die Hard 2: 8 / 10
Die Hard With a Vengeance: 10 / 10
Live Free or Die Hard: 2 / 10
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2:02AM on 02/15/2013

NEW APPROACH

I like this movie, it has its own look and feel. Where it lets me down is the Danger element. All the Die Hards has incredible plot twists and danger elements that make you want to root for the good and bad guys. In this movie especially where the street shots,police station, FBI HQ etc look a bit bland (rushed production perhaps) But the director is pretty much hands on with the action and that's where this film gets a lot of love.
I like this movie, it has its own look and feel. Where it lets me down is the Danger element. All the Die Hards has incredible plot twists and danger elements that make you want to root for the good and bad guys. In this movie especially where the street shots,police station, FBI HQ etc look a bit bland (rushed production perhaps) But the director is pretty much hands on with the action and that's where this film gets a lot of love.
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11:27PM on 02/15/2013

WHALE PRANKS DID A REVIEW... Of the Trailer

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8:14PM on 02/23/2013
Die Hard : 10/10
Die Hard 2: 7/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 9/10
Live Free or Die Hard: 7/10
Die Hard : 10/10
Die Hard 2: 7/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 9/10
Live Free or Die Hard: 7/10
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8:15PM on 02/23/2013
Die Hard : 10/10
Die Hard 2: 7/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 9/10
Live Free or Die Hard: 7/10
Die Hard : 10/10
Die Hard 2: 7/10
Die Hard With A Vengeance: 9/10
Live Free or Die Hard: 7/10
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