Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V- 5; L-4 ; S/N -1. Running time: 2 hours 8 min.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
Ecclesiastes 21:6-7

This is a real cliff–er, doorhanger!
(c) 2007 20th Century Fox

I am not sure how free Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is—he is divorced and his daughter resents his following her to make sure her date stays in line—but he does live up to the “die hard” part of the title in this thriller chase film, which, like the Mission Impossible series, ought to have a special niche in the fantasy genre. Although lacking the strange powers of comic book super heroes, McClane’s body must be made of a substance similar to kryptonite, the way it rebounds so quickly from pummeling, falls from great heights, gun shot wounds, and other mayhem. At one point he lands atop a low flying jet fighter, is thrown off, and lands safely on the rubble of the highway bridge that the plane’s rockets have just demolished.

If you are into adrenalin-pumping adventure films that leave the real world behind, then LFoDH is for you, filled with car chases, explosions, high in the air fights and stunts, computers that always work instantaneously, and witty comments. An example of the latter: McClane, his car dogged by a helicopter with a sniper trying to take him out, has taken refuge in a highway tunnel where there is a gigantic traffic smash-up. He gets into a car and heads for the entrance where the helicopter is hovering. He drives over some of the wreckage and debris so that the vehicle becomes air-borne and smashes into the helicopter. He of course has bailed out, incurring no broken bones or visible bruises. His amazed companion says, “You killed the helicopter with a car!” McClane replies, “I was out of bullets.”

There is a plot involving McClane protecting Matt Farrell (Justin Long), the last expert computer hacker on a list to be assassinated by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), a disgruntled computer genius upset by his humiliating treatment by the US government. Gabriel is bent on shutting down everything in the country via the internet, thus throwing the nation into chaos and willing to meet his demand for billions of dollars. Although more an adult male fantasy (computers and systems never fail their users in this kind of movie) than a realistic adventure story, it is great fun to see Bruce Willis reprise his older and a little wiser character from the first two films.

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