By Don Simpson | June 22, 2007
Director: Len Wiseman
Writers: Mark Bomback (screenplay, story), David Marconi (story), John Carlin (article “A Farewell to Arms”), Roderick Thorp (certain original characters)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Jonathan Sadowski, Andrew Friedman, Kevin Smith, Yorgo Constantine, Cyril Raffaelli, Christopher Palermo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Bruce Willis and his republican cronies are back with their first Die Hard film of G.W. Bush’s America (the fourth installment of the Die Hard series), proliferating their right-wing agenda to this new millennium. Similar to Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes), Willis seems to have a strong affinity for the right to bare arms. There is no need for trials or juries, everyone should grab their weapons and annihilate the enemy. Kill them all and let god sort them out.
John McClane (Willis) is a caveman in the modern world. He is a grumpy curmudgeon resistant to change and reluctant to accept any technological advances of the past twenty years. As we learn throughout Live Free or Die Hard, nothing good can come from technology. It only makes us and our country more prone to attack (from a hacker’s “fire sale,” as this film suggests). Even discussion and thought are too complex of processes for McClane, who opts to act on instinct rather than talk, think or plan. Consistent with his caveman machismo, he literally stalks his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) at college in order to scare off any potential suitors. McClane is a hero from the past, back when men were men and women were merely damsels in distress.
Live Free or Die Hard is all about instilling fear and hatred into the public, utilizing the same techniques as mass media outlets such as Fox News. The government cannot protect or save us, so we should grab our guns and take justice into our own hands. We should go to war and destroy our enemies without thinking about the consequences (or considering an exit strategy). The messengers of the right are willing to motivate others to take action, yet they remain safe in the confines of their TV studio/film set/White House/Pentagon (you get the picture). Obviously, they assume that anyone listening to them is as reluctant to think before action as McClane.
Even ignoring the message, this is still a horrible film. The special effects and action sequences are as ridiculous as they are spectacular. Live Free or Die Hard takes its cues from action films of the 70s and 80s, with a raw and intense grittiness preferring to crash and blow up real things for greater realism (like McClane, ignorant of modern advances in computer generated effects). This is balls to the wall, knuckles dragging on the floor, mindless “entertainment.”
The fights, chases and explosions are well-orchestrated but the film does not get through one single scene of dialogue without having to do obvious over-dubs. There are several (and I mean A LOT) scenes that the dialogue does not match the character’s mouth. Other scenes they obviously did not have a good take so a random camera angle or cut-away shot was chopped in. It is as if the only thing that matters is the explosions and no one would ever notice if the dialogue, editing and continuity are all screwed up.
Based on an article by John Carlin titled “A Farewell to Arms,” Live Free or Die Hard brings some interesting questions to the table (such as the stability and security of our government’s reliance on technology to literally run the entire country). It is a shame that director Len Wiseman (Underworld) is willing to sacrifice any resemblance of drama for the sake of well-choreographed action.
Other credits include Timothy Olyphant who plays Thomas Gabriel, the evil hacker mastermind behind the “fire sale” set to cripple the United States. Maggie Q plays his head henchwoman, Mai. Good guys include: Justin Long (who plays McClane’s techie side-kick, Matt Farrell) and Director Kevin Smith in a slightly amusing cameo as the head hacker of the world, Warlock.