“Live Free or Die Hard,” review by Susan Granger

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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Live Free or Die Hard” is an invigorating 8, a solid summer popcorn picture.

After a 12-year hiatus, the chaos and confusion that surrounds Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) are back again in what’s essentially “Die Hard 4.0.” Understanding that this is primarily a high-tech action adventure with little subtlety and only a smidgeon of substance, it succeeds – primarily because the stunts are spectacular.

Still working for the NYPD, wiser and wearier McClane’s assignment is to deliver a South Jersey computer hacker (Justin Long), to Washington for questioning by the FBI. But the feds aren’t the only ones after the geek; dastardly forces want him dead. So by the time McClane makes it to D.C., traffic signals, computers and cellphones have gone down. It’s a “fire sale,” a three-step plan leading to the total paralysis of the digital systems that control our nation’s energy and economy.

Using brawn and brains, McClane battles several villains, including a maniacal, sexy Hong Kong martial artist (Maggie Q), a Eurotrash thug (Cyril Raffaelli) and the mastermind cyber-terrorist, vengeful Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant of “Deadwood”).

Screenwriters Mark Bomback and David Marconi cleverly play off our current fears: terrorism and the increasing role that the technology plays in our culture. Director Len Wiseman (“Underworld: Evolution”) maintains a pulse-racing pace. Basically, it’s a continuous chase, involving not only the usual firepower but huge fireballs, catapulting cars, collapsing freeways, a Harrier fighter-jet leaving harrowing destruction in its wake and a climactic fight in an elevator shaft.

52 year-old Bruce Willis seems as fearsome and formidable as ever while 29 year-old Justin Long not only matches him in anti-authoritarianism but gets some of the best laughs in the picture. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Live Free or Die Hard” is an invigorating 8, a solid summer popcorn picture.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.