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Jul 8, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Live Free or Die Hard

Apparently, the critics and movie audiences of the world have lowered their standards. Considerably. To think that Live Free or Die Hard is currently rated at an 8.1/10 on IMDb, or that the film regularly scores four out of five stars is all a bit disconcerting. Because, really, there isn't all that much to crow about.

I guess, in some respects, I can understand it. After all, this is the fourth in the series, and number fours aren't typically very representative of the overall quality of a franchise. The laundry list of fatal fours is long and undistinguished: Batman & Robin, Lethal Weapon 4, The Phantom Menace. Not a decent film amongst them. So, in comparison, Live Free looks like a masterpiece.

For a mindless summer popcorn flick, it's pretty effective - just be sure to remember the "no mind" portion. With almost nonstop action (it starts within 12 minutes or so of the opening credits and continues throughout), the movie certainly fulfills its requirement as an adrenaline-pumping, testocerone-fueled explosion and crash-fest.

However, it's not particularly great (or believable, which I guess goes without saying) action. Also, it may as well have been titled Generic Action Film No. 4, as there's really no connection to any of the previous films outside of some character names. As I've mentioned in this space before, for all the talk of John McClane being "an analog hero in a digital world," well, is that even true - much less relevant? Was there really that much character established in the first three films? For all the things we knew about McClane previously (troubled marriage, smoker, recovering alcoholic, NY cop, smartass), the only things that really carry over are the cop and smartass part, which makes him and the film unique to no one. Toss in Willis' bald head and he doesn't even look like the McClane from the earlier films.

Then again, all of this is pretty unimportant. The fact is, people want a rekindling of the film that they recognized as one of the best of the action genre some 18 years ago, and this edition falls far short. Though the story starts off pretty strong, the action gets ridiculous in a short time and just keeps getting more ridiculous from there on out, culminating in a borderline offensively bad sequence involving a semi, a fighter jet and a freeway (all of which feels totally egregious and serves the plot in no way whatsoever).

On the bright side, Justin Long and Kevin Smith add a light touch. Unfortunately, Timothy Olyphant's talents are wasted on a boring role that will disappear from your memory within minutes of leaving the theater. Can't say that about Jeremy Iron's Simon, that's for sure - and an action movie is only as good as its villain, anyway.

Fletch's Film Rating:


2 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Live Free or Die Hard"

NFL Adam said...

The presence of Kevin Smith still can't get me in the theater for this one. Maybe Ellen Barkin, but probably not.

Fletch said...

Don't bother at all. Smith is pretty funny in it, but his part is cliched, and he's not in it but for five minutes.

You really need to get off your Barkin kick. Sure, she looks good (in makeup and a skintight dress) for a 50 year old, but let's leave it at that, shall we? If you must see her, watch Switch again. You know you can't get enough of that Jimmy Smits.