Tuesday, July 03, 2007


[no spoilers that aren't in the trailer]

A few years ago, Bruce Willis starred in a very strange and interesting movie titled "Unbreakable", where he somehow had the supernatural power of being impossible to kill. Train derailment? Just a couple scrapes and bumps. Gunshots? No big deal.

We just saw "Live Free or Die Hard" last night, and it appears John McClane has inherited this magical power from his previous character.

Jesus H. Christ, you just can't kill this guy. He's like the terminator without the accent. I have never seen someone take a beating like this on film and keep going, and I watch hong kong action movies.

This movie is two hours of non-stop ass kicking; mostly of Bruce Willis, but also by him. From the opening scenes, the longest the action ever stops is about two minutes, and whenever it does, it's just a setup for more beatings, shootings, and blowing crap up.

Die Hard was the quintessential action movie. It set the mold for all single protagonists actions movies to follow it (buddy and team based movies are a bit different). Die Hards 2 and 3 were at best mediocre shadows of the first. Well, "Live Free or Die Hard" brings the franchise CLOSE to its former glory.

Now that isn't to say it's as good. For one thing there isn't nearly as much humor in this movie... Oh it's there, but there not nearly enough time for it in between all the ass kicking. There's even LESS plot or story or character development in this one than the others if you can believe it.. again, less plot, more boom.

That's perfectly fine with me. This is a frikken Die Hard movie, not frikken Truffaut.

Some have expressed concern that the movie is rated PG-13... well, honestly, I have no clue how they managed to get that rating. There's more violence in this one than the other three combined; including one scene of a bad guy being turned into kibble by a completely implausible cooling fan/chipper shredder.

Really there's only one annoyance from the PG-13, and that's the language was toned down a hell of a lot. McClane is a rough guy with a foul mouth in the other movies, in this one, not so much.

All the violence in the world is ok, but almost no swearing and no sex so its fine right? Huh MPAA?

Sorry, pet peeve of mine.

...But overall, it was great fun.

Maggie Q as the main villains trim... I mean side kick.

Yaknow...I think all Bondian villains have to have a hot piece who kicks ass (preferably Asian) now. It's like a union rule or something...

Anyway she was great physically, but she can't act. Don't bother listening to her lines, she only has about four of them... and two facial expressions I think; and none of them really matter.

Timothy Olyphant as the big bad was pretty damn good. I loved him in Deadwood, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he handles "Hitman" later this year. He has a great sense of controlled anger and menace (even when he's playing a good guy).

The rest of the bad guys are interchangeable, except for some reason one French freerunner that they probably threw in there after seeing Sebastien Foucans magnificent romp at the beginning of "Casino Royale". Yes, freerunning kicks ass, but in a Die Hard movie, it's more than a bit out of place.

Oh and mac kid? Yeah, I didn't hate him. He didn't suck. Sure he was kinda whiny and annoying but thats what his character was supposed to be; and he played it with a fair emotional realism... if not quite natural.

There are a couple spots that were clearly intended as parodic of the genre. McClane engages in single combat with an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter using a big rig, and a (ridiculously high four level corkscrew which doesn't exist) highway cloverleaf as his weapons... and in the process pretty much recreates a scene from "True Lies".

It's so over the top, there's no way it isn't meant as a funny jab at Arnold (and James Cameron, one of the most pompous pretentious asses out there; and the director of "True Lies").

Oh and for anyone who knows anything about information security, cracking, phreaking, breaking, crypto, comsec, radio telecoms, ham and CB ... basically any security or communications technology... just shut your brain off before you walk into the theater, or you're going to be irritated. They don't mangle it as bad as most Hollywood action movies, and remember reality has no save against plot device.

Other than that though... well, and the aforementioned unkillable John McClain... the movie isn't too far beyond the realm of realism.

On summary:
  • Brainless action level: high
  • Bad guys getting killed in fun ways: high
  • Good guy getting the crap beat out of him: high
  • Things going boom: medium
  • Witty repartee: medium
  • Hot chicks: low
  • Over the top: medium
Other than the distinct lack of babeage (which has been consistent across most of Willis's action movies by the way), and a bit less boomy goodness than there could have been; a straight up by the book ass kicking summer action movie.

Oh and yes, he does say it... but it's PG13 so they futz with it a bit... you'll see.