After twelve years they finally decided to make another Die Hard film. I feel like this was one of many attempts at rebooting old franchises since Rocky, Rambo, Terminator, etc. all started popping up again about that time.
Live Free or Die Hard has plenty of differences from the original trilogy. The first is Bruce Willis is officially bald. I felt like they tried to pick up where the third film left off and by that they tried to expand the movie more. Yes the basics from the orignal film are there, but the new movie doesn’t rely on those previous films. Apart from a few details you really can ignore that those other films exist. DH4 isn’t just some funny one liners and blowing shit open. There’s a real attempt to add a complex story in addition to some current social and political commentary.
The action is still great. In fact new special effects made everything nice and shiny. Bigger explosions and what not. The downside to all fo this is that I still miss the intimacy of the first film. McClane runs across a couple of states in this movie. It allows for bigger stunts and allowed for the stakes in the film to be larger, but it took away from some of the great moments in previous films where it was just John McClane doing some kick ass shit on his own.
To fill that gap they add larger stunts as well as new characters. The last film added Zeus as McClane’s sidekick of sorts and Matt (Justin Long) is sort of put in that role. You also have more names for faces that are helping McClane or against him. The cast just kinda grows so you focus less on McClane the whole time, which to me was just wrong. Not to keep harping on this, but the reason the first Die Hard film was great was because it was pretty much just the one character. Yes others were there for support, but they weren’t major players.
The story is solid though albeit more complex. It’s basically used to just make the stakes higher.
Bruce Willis still manages to kick ass. Justin Long is okay. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just kinda weird with his character being in. I didn’t feel like having a “kid” as the “partner” worked that well. Zeus was good in the last film because he was a lot like McClane. Timothy Olyphant is great, but not really anything special here. His character has to be the lamest of the Die Hard villains. He’s just kinda randomly there and doesn’t do much. I mean Olyphant makes sense casting wise maybe, but the way the dealt the the character just sucked. They just went “hey we have a young villain whose pretty smart and suave” and did nothing else to the character but give him a few lines of dialog. I’m also disappointed that they threw in Maggie Q. The previous films had “henchmen” who were memorable, but I feel like she was put in just to fill in the now required “hot chick who can kick ass” role. I did like Kevin Smith’s little cameo. The one or two roles of him not as Silent Bob have been pretty good and I thought him being cast as Warlock here was great. His basement/command center easily looks like it could be a room the Smith himself owns.
I’m being critical of the film. Nitpicking now that I just watched all of them over again. I don’t know if this is my second favorite Die Hard. I haven’t quite figured out how to rank them beyond the first one being the best. They did a great job though revamping the franchise and if the same people stay involved it could continue on and do well. At this point none of the films in the series are a flop to me and while I still love the first film, I think Live Free or Die Hard was probably the best well-rounded movie of the series and stands on its own.
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