LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
(PG-13 and Unrated)
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
Bruce Willis as JOHN MCCLANE
Timothy Olyphant as THOMAS GABRIEL
Justin Long as MATT FARRELL
Maggie Q as MAI LIHN
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as LUCY MCCLANE
Kevin Smith as WARLOCK
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Studio: 20th Century Fox
BY KEVIN CARR
While I was quite cynical when I heard they were making another “Die Hard” film, I found myself pleasantly surprised by “Live Free or Die Hard.” Unlike many people in the media, I wasn’t jumping on any bandwagon of lament because they went for the PG-13 rating (and hence had to edit around the infamous “Yippe-Ki-Yay” line). Rather, I enjoyed it for what it was – a film that embodied good old American summer blockbuster fun.
Now, “Live Free or Die Hard” is out on DVD, and it’s just as good as it was in the theaters. Based on a real article exposing the digital vulnerabilities of our nation, this latest installment in the franchise follows John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he tries to protect a hacker with special knowledge. It’s an over-the-top spectacle of action violence, and I loved it.
Timothy Olyphant plays the villain in this one. Alan Rickman he is not, but unlike “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” it didn’t seem that they were trying to trump the original. Rather, Olyphant gives us a James Bond villain performance that is partly forgettable but no less as fun.
As in the third installment, which brought Samuel L. Jackson in as a foil to Willis, this movie casts Justin Long (aka the Mac Guy) to play off Willis. Both actors have good dramatic chops but keen senses of comedic timing. This makes the pairing not just bearable but actually somewhat fun. The rest of the cast fits well, including Maggie Q as the sexy but deadly henchwoman and Kevin Smith as the paranoid uber-hacker.
If you’re going to check this out on DVD, it’s worth buying as the 2-disc set. Both the PG-13 theatrical release and the f-bomb-approved unrated versions are playable from the first disc. On the second disc is an excellent in-depth, feature-length documentary of how the film came to be, covering all aspects from pre-production to post-production. Additional features include a conversation between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith, as well as music videos and a somewhat lame Fox Movie Channel retrospective on the “Die Hard” series.