While the first Die Hard movie used sleuth and sneaking around small spaces, Die Harder used smart mouthed people and semi-clever action plots, Die Hard: With a Vengeance seemed to have found the correct balance between the two most used action tricks, Lots of running and shooting with hot and funny dialogue.
12 years later... Live Free or Die Hard emerges, offering us the kind of action that only Die Hard can seem to deliver. After 1995's spectacular run through New York City, we find McClane looking like Jack Bauer again. He hasn't seen any big explosion or gun action in a long time and he's gotten older physically, but hasn't lost his edge. He's protecting his daugher from scumbags and divorced from his wife(I guess leaving her hanging on the phone all the time isn't such a good idea).
Now, some guy wants to make some noise, but this time it isn't just some building in LA, or an airport, or a city. Die Hard takes the next logical step. This bad ass group, led by Maggie Q and the timely Timothy Olyphant, has initiated a nation wide computer warfare strike that shuts down all the major necessities of man kind(Stock Market, Traffic lights, and of course the cell phones). The plan also involves "offing" eight BIG TIME computer hackers, whom they've secretly used to gets separate pieces of a puzzle that creates the weapon they are using.
ENTER JOHN MCCLANE. He is assigned to detain and bring in Matthew Ferrell(Played by Justin Long). The two strike up some conversation as a wise ass, but matured cop, and a wise ass computer hacker, just before the bad guys show up to wack Ferrell. McClane defends Ferrell, and eventually discovers that this hacker's abilities include the knowledge needed to stop computer armaggeddon.
Once more, a nice and easy start leads to action pandamonium(did I spell that right?) Live Free requires you to partially suspend disbelief, but it's all worth while. It's like watching the best parts of 24 in movie form. Director Les Wiseman keeps pushing the action as far as it can go, making the impossible look as fun as possible, adding humor, but somehow making the intensity as serious as it can be.
With all that said, Die Hard should be an A movie, but I somehow miss the sleuth, and although Olyphant is one hell of a bad guy in this episode, He isn't a Gruber. Are his motivations strong enough to do something like this? The Director tries to compare McClane's motivations to bad guy Olyphant's. They've both been given mere pat on the backs and many let downs for incredible work in the past, but one has gone to live his life, no matter how bleek it gets, and the other seeks revenge. It was a little weak on the motivation hearing the "I'm doing this world a favor" line again, and the true intentions of the bad guy are revealed, so I was supposed to feel better about it. It's clever, just not clever enough.
The real strength of Live Free or Die Hard is John McClane and always has been. Justin Long pulls off another surprisingly good acting performance since his Jeepers Creepers stint. Look for the cameo's from one of our Star Trek Voyager friends. He's looking all frowny and mean. I loved it!
If you like smart action, funny conversation, and JOHN MCCLANE. WATCH THIS MOVIE! It's not an ACADEMY AWARD WINNER. It's just a fun, let go, all out feel good film with maybe some sin in loving some of what happens.
My guess is, there won't be another movie this summer with action THIS HOT and well paced and edited, etc etc etc. I'm also guessing that it won't take 12 more years to make another die hard, or even complete a second trilogy, as long as McClane is played by Bruce Willis, it's always ready to rock.