Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Live Free Or Die Hard [Die Hard 4.0] - 3/5

"You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy." -John McClane

Ludicrous? What do you mean reviving an action franchise after 12 years is ludicrous? Is the plot for "Live Free Or Die Hard" ludicrous? Is having a quickly aging Bruce Willis return ludicrous? Is casting Justin Long as his new 'buddy' character ludicrous? How about holding the entire COUNTRY hostage now! Is that ludicrous? Abso-fucking-lutely. It also makes it a rather enjoyable action film, that's what.

John McClane (Willis) still is trying to put his life together. It's a rather shitty life now and his own daughter (Winstead) won't even talk to him. When a half crazed and well connected hacker (Olyphant) decides to kick into gear a fire sale (which engulfs the entire country into chaos) McClane happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time bringing in a young man Matt (Long) who just might be the key to stopping it. With McClane's penchant for being a smart ass skull cracking get it done at all costs attitude bad guy demolition machine and Matt's technological prowess, together they just might be able to stop anarchy in the USA.

"Die Hard With A Vengeance" might have been the return to form that we desperately needed after the rather lack luster carbon copy of "Die Hard 2", but "Live Free Or Die Hard" truly tries to modernize the franchise to keep it relevant. It succeeds on some levels, but ultimately falls into the pit hole of trying to be too big for its own britches. It's a fun ride with some great moments, but it comes off more like a desperate attempt to rehash some of the elements of the previous entries without adding enough new twists.

Don't get me wrong, I actually really enjoy this film. The action is hilariously over the top (McClane in a semi vs. a fucking jet? I'll go with that) exciting and Willis is still surprisingly charming despite having to go 12 years without this character. McClane's bullshitting rants and take no prisoners attitude just might make any film work on some level and hearing him mouth off and blow things up is simply endearing and heartwarming for action fans. These two elements single handedly give this film its 3 stars.

On the other hand, this film does fail in way too many areas. The plot is so out there and over the top that there was no way that the film could even try to make it seem plausible (really? a fire sale and villains with this many connections?) and some of the cast was just simply misused. Olyphant, a new favorite genre actor of mine, is a horribly written villain and over acted. Even our new young buddy character, in a desperate attempt to reach the new generation of movie-goers, is awkwardly placed with Willis. It leads to a few good laughs but many of the scenes seemed forced with the two. Even the supporting cast (which includes awesome kung fu star Maggie Q and "District 13: Ultimatum" star Cyril Raffaelli) are horribly under used sans a few good action scenes.

Like with "Die Hard 2", this fourth film in the franchise is a fun action flick with great over the top and out there sequences, but it lacks the grounded humanity of the other films. It's fun and its great to see McClane back in action and spurting out hilarious dialogue, but this one could have been more inspired.

BONUS RANT: Do NOT see the rated version of this film. Part of its charm is having Willis drop F-Bombs and ridiculous slurs as he miraculously pulls off outrageous action pieces. Not to mention the rated one also cuts out the last word in McClane's now classic catch phrase. We just can't have that. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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