short film reviews, criticism, and occasional musing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard (2007, USA)

As I've no doubt mentioned before, I love the Die Hard movies. #1 is surely the best, but #3 is my favorite for sheer, over-the-top ridiculous action and bad quips, and also because Sam Jackson's Zeus is such a fantastic foil for John McClane. Not to mention Jeremy Irons as the maniacal Simon (oh, what a world it would be if he and Alan Rickman really WERE brothers), one of the best original movie villains of the 90s.

All that being said, I was NOT excited by the concept of Live Free or Die Hard, primarily because I thought that the magic would certainly be gone by now, what with the introduction of a cyber-terror plot, nerdy young sidekick, and McClane's nubile daughter standing in for her mother as hostage extraordinaire. I also thought that Len Wiseman would be a poor substitute for John McTiernan, though I have to admit that I enjoyed the first Underworld movie, what with all the vampire vs. werewolf-fu.

Anyway, as it turns out, Live Free is the only summer action film I've bothered with yet, and I'm not sorry I did - it's a hell of a lot of fun, with some classic McClane attitude and lots of stuff blowing up real good. Most of the old-school action is really well-done, though I could have done without the final semi truck stunt, which took things a bit too far. Justin Long isn't nearly as irritating as I expected - I actually liked him for the first time since probably Galaxy Quest - and Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is certainly her father's daughter. Timothy Olyphant doesn't have the heft of either Irons or Rickman, but honestly, who does? He and Maggie Q make a good pair all the same. Unfortunately, there's still no exciting way to film people staring intently at computer screens, and an R rating might have been a problem at the box office, but it certainly would have helped with the film's snappiness and its body count (McClane has never been shy about offing people before). There are way too many moments where you can tell that the actors have dubbed their lines to remove profanity. Hopefully, there will be an unrated cut available on DVD. In any case - not as good as #1 or #3, but much, much better than #2.


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