Live Free or Die Hard
Maybe using an Apple has made him stupid … Do what the pretty lady says!

Theatrical Release Date: 06/27/2007
Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Audrey Hess’ Rating (based on her statement that this film is “awesome”):

Ian Forbes’ Rating:

As this is yet another summer full of sequels … I was more than a little skeptical about making a fourth Die Hard film.

The first film is a true action classic, marking Alan Rickman as one of the best movie villains of all time. The second is complete crap and the third one has its charm, thanks to wisecracking Samuel L. Jackson, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the first one.

Now with “Underworld” director Len Wiseman at the helm, whose most impressive accomplishment to date is still marrying Kate Beckinsale, John McCLane is back and he’s fighting cyber-terrorists headed by Timothy Olyphant.

Now, let’s tackle these issues separately shall we?

First, Wiseman may not have impressed me with any of his dramatic efforts but he can do action well and that’s first and foremost what a Die Hard movie needs. So, kudos to “DH4″ (You can get 45% of your recommended DH4 in a bowl of granola topped with mescaline).

However, the idea of cyber-terrorism being a good backdrop for an action film doesn’t send chills up my spine. Almost any time a film uses “modern technology”, you end up re-watching it five years later and laughing at the size of the cell phone or ridiculous interface of the computer (e.g. the modem and floppy disks from “Wargames”).

Also, this seemed to have taken a cue from “Swordfish” in the apparent skills it would take to crack high-level government computer systems. So I suppose I’m going to have to take away those kudos I awarded earlier. (I’m getting hungry.)

Third, Timothy Olyphant? HE’S the bad guy? Wasn’t he the lovable drug dealer in “Go”? Wasn’t he the cop sidekick to Delroy Lindo in “Gone in 60 Seconds”? Wasn’t he the pornographer pimp from “The Girl Next Door?

Yes, Yes and Yes. And while I actually do like his work and find that he has an appealing charm (hey, now – not that appealing), I can’t really be all that scared by him. His performance in “DH4″ is decent but it’s nowhere near Rickman’s Hans Gruber.

On the plus side, the action gets going right from the start and there are very few lulls. Wiseman and company keep the bullets, cars and attack fighters flying. Of special note is Cyril Raffaelli, who some of you may recognize from “District B13“. His brand of movement (known as parkour) adds a whole level of bad ass to the film and his casting pays off huge.

Also, for the most part the effects are done well and you can see where they spent a lot of money. I do wonder though why the worst special effect shot is the green screen background while Willis and Long are in a car on their way to West Virginia. Is decent footage that would relate hard to come by or was this just a sad oversight?

In any case, speaking of Long, he (and Olyphant) were my main concerns going into the film. I already knew Kevin Smith had a cameo in this and they’re able to keep it fun, although supremely cliché. However, while I have liked Long in his other roles from “Dodgeball”, “Ed” and “Galaxy Quest”, his ability to play an awkward but brilliant teenager … hey, wait a minute!

He plays this role in every thing he’s ever been in! This is an outrage! This is a travesty! This … fits the role he’s playing here.

Look, I’m every bit as annoyed at actors who can do only one thing (Jon Heder) but the bottom line is that it worked for the film. I even thought Mary Elizabeth Winstead did a decent job of portraying the kind of feisty daughter of John McClane that audiences would expect.

So where does that leave me in rating Bruce Willis’ return to glory? Even with some of the issues I brought up, “Live Free of Die Hard” is one action packed thrill ride of a summer blockbuster that is exactly what audiences have been wanting and deserving this summer.

I’m passing out a soft 4 out of 5. I can’t go as high as Audrey due to some of the items noted herein and that Reginald VelJohnson isn’t in this one but I highly recommend you go out and enjoy the latest John McClane adventure.

Though I still hold out optimism that “The Bourne Ultimatum” will be this summer’s best action film, that title is going to be a little harder to attain now.