Cross-posted to LiveJournal
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Don’t like? Watch the movie first.
So, It’s kinda backward for me, doing a recent sequel to a movie in a series and not, you know, all the movies in order. But I happened to re-watch this with my boyfriend for some inane reason (I think I was trying to show him an example of something) and it’s also the only Die Hard film I’ve watched while being old enough to understand and remember the whole thing.
So here’s Live Free or Die Hard.
Now like most people I was skeptical about this movie coming out. Bruce Willis has gotten rather old and they were doing a slew of sequels with old action heroes coming back to reprise their roles. However, part of the reason why this worked is because Bruce Willis is old. And John McClane is nothing if not bitchy and aware of his flaws. It made it more entertaining to watch that way.
Live Free or Die Hard has a plot that follows most of the other three movies. Basically, it’s terrorism. And the Die Hard series was doing way before 9/11 made terrorism the front-runner. This time, it’s cyberterrorism. In other words, everything that’s happening is being done through cyberspace and on a computer. The terrorist happens to be someone who once worked for Homeland Security and was fired for being too idealistic. So he’s shows the government the system flaws by collapsing everything. On top of it, McClane gets involved when a hacker kid he’s supposed to pick up is about to be assassinated by these guys. Oh and of course, McClane’s daughter ends up getting kidnapped because that’ll stop him from being a pain in their ass.
The plot does have a few flaws. The most noticeable of those being that you really can’t do all that shit through computers. Really, it’s a stretch to think that you could but seeing as how most people watching the movie aren’t tech savvy enough to know that it can’t happen, they fool people into thinking that it can because it’s cool. And it is cool to think that just by knowing how to hack every system possible, you could do stuff like blow up a natural gas facility.
Overall, however, the plot is entertaining. And at the very least, the cookie-cutter mediocrity of it gets reduced by the fact that the characters are the most entertaining bit of it. The dialogue was written in a way that makes every character way more hilarious in the situation than one would otherwise assume. John McClane was always good in this respect. He pops off one-liners all the time while complaining about why this happens to him and what he’s gonna do when he gets his hands on the fucker that screwed it up in the first place. Also, it helps that there’s a little bit of Kevin Smith in the movie.
Also, it has the typical action movie entertainment. There’s lots of people getting beat up and killed and lots of explosions. They keep coming up with new ways to destroy things just to keep us entertained and there are quite a few good moments in that movie. Including Bruce Willis throwing a cop car into a helicopter, as seen in the trailer.
The character development works too. We get to see just how life has affected McClane through the years by the evidence shown. We get mention that his wife divorced him and his daughter is shown actively trying to forget he exists. And yet he’s still good enough of a guy to help this poor hacker kid try not to get killed and stop the bad guys.
Justin Long (sexy man that he is) plays the hacker kid, Matt Farrell. And at first we see him as a hardcore kid of the ages. He’s not used to people trying to kill him and running away from explosions. He freaks out about it and is scared and generally doesn’t want to do it. But he finds his courage to do what he knows is right. He hates McClane at first for being a cop and being old but gradually comes to see the guy as a friend. And throughout it all, he’s smart. McClane sees that and uses him to the advantage with it. He can trigger the kid’s brain and he comes up with some pretty useful things that don’t seem as far fetched as some other leaps of logic movies have made us believe.
McClane’s daughter Lucy also goes through some character development, though we don’t see much of her until three-quarters through the movie. We get that she hates her dad, but when we’re reintroduced to her we see that it’s a superficial hate and that she really does care about him, wanting him to know she’s okay before she gets kidnapped. We see how much she’s like her dad, how strong she is and how much of a fighter she is. And after watching what her dad will go through to save her, she empathizes with him a lot more.
Final Thoughts: The movie is far from perfect, but for a sequel made 20-some years later, it’s pretty good. I give it a 4/5 at least for entertainment purposes. Most of the other old sequels that I knew were coming I didn’t have high hopes for but this one stayed pretty true and exceeded my expectations.