Florida Backyard header image

All images © Daniel & Stacy Tabb and Boondock Studios

«   •   Home   •   »

Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard

I don’t usually do movie reviews. Frankly they’re too much of a pain in my ass to bother. But I just spent two hours laughing, gasping, cheering, clapping my hands, and generally having a helluva time watching this movie. When it was over, I immediately wanted to watch it again. I wanted to buy the DVD in the lobby on the way out. It was that much fun.Everyone knows the drill in a Die Hard movie. Bruce Willis’ cop McClane is thrust in a situation where he can Stop the Madness and whip up on the bad guy. There’s usually wisecracks, McClane bleeding and cursing a lot, and eventually, saving the day. Yes, it is formulaic, yes, it’s been done before and will be done again, but when it’s pulled off with this much joy (yes, joy), much can be forgiven.

This time Willis is giving us an older/wiser McClane. Oh, he’ll still mouth off, but he’s actually more mature, and it is a much more enjoyable version of the character. There are numerous inside references for longtime viewers, such as McClane’s daughter calling herself Lucy Gennaro instead of Lucy McClane, and an FBI agent named Johnson, which is always a smart way to make your audience feel invested in a movie. The addition of the Mac kid, Justin Long, was a very fine call by someone. I’ve adored him since his Ed days, and he’s good addition here. Lucy, McClane’s daughter all grown up, is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (also known as the bad guy/girl/whatever in Sky High) and she damned near steals the movie out from under the big boys. She is McClane’s daughter, after all…and all that that implies.

The bad guy this time around is played by the newest occupant of my Laminated List, Timothy Olyphant. Previously mesmerizing as Sheriff Seth Bullock in Deadwood, he runs a close second at show-stealing behind Lucy. Nobody delivers sarcastic lines like this guy, absolutely deadpan. Yet you do not once think he WON’T shoot you in the head post-deadpan line delivery.

Some credit has got to be given to the director here. I wouldn’t know Len Wiseman if he stuck his tongue in my ear (other than he’s the improbably hot husband of the improbably hot Kate Beckinsale), but he apparently took the stunt crew aside and said, ‘Let’s take this bitch up to eleven.’ The gag we’ve all seen in the trailer (where the two cars stop the one flipping car from smushing McClane and the Kid), is still spectacular, despite having seen it a dozen times already. Everything else in the movie puts it to shame. Everything. But most especially the tunnel scene. Don’t be off peeing during the tunnel scene. My only complaint with Wiseman is his borrow-ation (is that a word) of certain Michael Bay shots. To be expected, I spose, since he’s basically a protege, but still, buddy, let’s avoid the slo-mo setup shots in future, ok?

Suspension of disbelief is REQUIRED for this movie, just like all the others. All the tech slinging/haxxoring is absolutely bogus, the stunts improbable and breathtaking at the same time, and McClane NOT winding up with 97 broken bones is completely unpossible. However, if you’re going to this movie expecting a serious film, then you’re the sucker. You know what Die Hard is…McClane kicking the shit out of the bad guys. Leave your expectations at the door and you’ll have just as much fun as we did.