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 whats 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 McClanes assignment is to deliver a South Jersey computer hacker (Justin Long), to Washington for questioning by the FBI. But the feds arent 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. Its a fire sale, a three-step plan leading to the total paralysis of the digital systems that control our nations 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, its 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.