Live Free Or Die Hard (2007)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 6/27/07
Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Cyril Raffaelli, Kevin Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

A big dumb action film where things blow up real good. It's been twelve years since the last "Die Hard" film - who knew there would ever be another one? John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back on the scene as a senior detective on the New York City police force, but he's old and his methods are outdated. When a cyber-terrorist throws the nation into chaos, McClane is instructed to bring in a known hacker named Matthew Farrell (Justin Long) for questioning. Unfortunately, the bad guys want Farrell dead, and McClane spends the majority of the film trying to keep him alive and one step ahead. This involves lots of car chases, gun fights, fisticuffs, explosions, and property destruction. And just for good measure, there is some family bonding thrown in with McClane's estranged daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). McClane may be a brute and not technically savvy, but sometimes that's exactly what you need.

Director Len Wiseman ("Underworld") keeps the film moving at a nice pace and makes sure that everything is a lot of fun to watch. The stuntwork and effects are quite good, and it's nice to see how physical and tangible everything is. While there are plenty of tacky CGI effects in the film, there are also some extremely impressive car chase sequences. It's delightful to see action stars Maggie Q ("Naked Weapon") and Cyril Raffaelli ("Banlieue 13") dishing it out, but their efforts are sadly ruined by terrible editing. The editing is also dicey in several other places, disrupting the flow of the film. Bruce Willis is always enjoyable in his John McClane role, but much like his character, he looks tired and worn down. In a way, that adds more credibility to his reluctant hero persona, and he takes an impossible amount of physical abuse throughout the film. His sidekick Justin Long is just greasy and annoying, existing solely as a comedic foil for the huge cultural and age differences between the characters. While he does a good job of being scared and overwhelmed, his sarcastic wit and nerd persona are intensely grating. Just like real-life computer nerds, it would be much better off if he just kept his mouth shut. On the other hand, Kevin Smith's cameo as über-hacker Warlock is quite amusing just because he's so clichéd and over-the-top. Overall, it's a fun film in the old action movie tradition, and a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon.