6 July 2007 | WriterDave
Good Old-Fashioned Shattered Glass Action Flick
"Live Free or Die Hard" is quite a refreshing piece of entertainment this summer in the wake of so many effects-driven computer simulated action/fantasy films. With its silly title, smart-alleck lead character (Bruce Willis as Bruce Willis doing John McClane), and loads of old fashioned stunts involving cars, SUV's, elevator shafts, big rigs, helicopters, fighter jets, and collapsing highway bridges, this flick is a great piece of shattered-glass entertainment--a throwback to the late 1980's and early 1990's when movies like the original "Die Hard" changed the face of movie action.
There is some frustration to be had when you start to realize how much they toned down to achieve the friendly PG-13 rating. There's far less profanity flying, and while the body count is astronomically high (the collateral damage in this film in terms of human life and damaged property is tres magnifique), there's little blood and guts to be found. Still, die hard "Die Hard" action fans should rest assured knowing there will be plenty of funny one-liners, hot chicks (a wonderful Maggie Q as the bad-ass female villain and the scorchingly feisty and cute Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lucy McClane), super smart bad guys (a very good Timothy Olyphant), and jaw-dropping death-defying stunts.
Director Len Wiseman orchestrates the complicated stunts very well like a masterful puppeteer, which is a shock considering how god-awful his "Underworld" films were. The hand-to-hand human match-ups still bear some of his annoying hallmarks, but he's learned how to blow things up really well and has learned a thing or two about scope and editing in big action set-pieces. The excellent pacing and preposterousness of the stunts (especially the climax involving the fighter jet and the big rig) certainly put a smile on my face.
There's a whole lot of computer hacking related mumbo-jumbo involved in the story, and there's a lot of downtime for male bonding and "explanation" of the finer plot points that slows the film down some but is actually nice to see in a world now ruled by Michael Bay-style non-stop action. Plenty dumb, plenty thrilling, and plenty of fun, "Live Free or Die Hard" is a pleasant surprise considering how unnecessary this sequel seemed from conception.