Live Free or Die Hard

While I was quite cynical when I heard they were making another Die Hard film, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Live Free or Die Hard. Unlike many people in the media, I wasn’t jumping on any bandwagon of lament because they went for the PG-13 rating (and hence had to edit around the infamous “Yippe-Ki-Yay” line). Rather, I enjoyed it for what it was – a film that embodied good old American summer blockbuster fun.

Now, Live Free or Die Hard is out on DVD, and it’s just as good as it was in the theaters. Based on a real article exposing the digital vulnerabilities of our nation, this latest installment in the franchise follows John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he tries to protect a hacker with special knowledge. It’s an over-the-top spectacle of action violence, and I loved it.

Timothy Olyphant plays the villain in this one. Alan Rickman he is not, but unlike Die Hard with a Vengeance, it didn’t seem that they were trying to trump the original. Rather, Olyphant gives us a James Bond villain performance that is partly forgettable but no less as fun.

As in the third installment, which brought Samuel L. Jackson in as a foil to Willis, this movie casts Justin Long (aka the Mac Guy) to play off Willis. Both actors have good dramatic chops but keen senses of comedic timing. This makes the pairing not just bearable but actually somewhat fun. The rest of the cast fits well, including Maggie Q as the sexy but deadly henchwoman and Kevin Smith as the paranoid uber-hacker.

If you’re going to check this out on DVD, it’s worth buying as the 2-disc set. Both the PG-13 theatrical release and the f-bomb-approved unrated versions are playable from the first disc. On the second disc is an excellent in-depth, feature-length documentary of how the film came to be, covering all aspects from pre-production to post-production. Additional features include a conversation between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith, as well as music videos and a somewhat lame Fox Movie Channel retrospective on the Die Hard series.

Grade: A

Release Date: November 20, 2007
Rated: PG-13 / Unrated
Running Time: 129 minutes
Number of Discs: 2
Cast: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Kevin Smith
Director: Len Wiseman
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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