I was looking forward to Bruce Willis’ (The Perfect Stranger) return as John McClane, our familiar reluctant hero. Bruce looks good for his age and seemed up to the task of reprising the role, but alas I was disappointed. I don’t care how many critics enjoyed this movie…I did not. And let me tell you why.
The stunts, action, and at times the storyline were all ridiculous. Let me start at the beginning. John is given the task of transporting a suspected computer hacker named Matt Farrell from Jersey to D.C. Sounds simple enough, but we know that it won’t be. Turns out that some terrorist/anarchists want Matt dead. Oh by the way, the character of Matt is portrayed by that dude who plays the “Mac” computer in those Mac vs. PC commercials. Weird. I couldn’t divorce him from the commerical. Back to the plot: the same guys who are trying to off Matt are also unleashing a terror plot against the country whereby the nation’s computers have been sabotaged. I’ll spare you the intricate details, you can thank me later. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of action-packed moments, but everything seemed contrived and I couldn’t help but compare the movie to its three predecessors. Live Free or Die Hard is easily the weakest of the four. Picture the following sequence of events: Bruce Willis leaps from a speeding police car, but manages to aim the abandoned cruiser perfectly so that it will crash directly into an airborne helicopter while the chopper’s pilot jumps from the aircraft before impact and emerges unscathed. Yeah, exactly. I mentally checked-out at that point. Live Free lacked the pins-and-needles suspense of the original and the taut, harried vibe of the third installment, Die Hard With a Vengeance. Hell, even Die Hard 2 was better than this one. At least in that one you felt that McClane was compelled to action by his sense of duty and the circumstances in which he found himself. That motivation seems absent in Live Free.
There are other movies that have similar themes and elements to Live Free or Die Hard that were much better. For example, the idea of someone using technology to spy on your every move and manipulate you with computers and surveillance was tackled much better by a movie called Enemy of the State. I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I mean, I didn’t hate it but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. I’m sure it will do well because many people get all warm and nostalgic when thinking about the original Die Hard, but sometimes you can go to the well one time too many. Wait for it on HBO.