Live Free or Die Hard (Twentieth Century Fox, PG-13)

livefree2So why was another movie needed 12 years after the last one? One might say because Rocky could do it, so could John McClane.






As a sequel that might get lost in the summer of sequels, Live Free or Die Hard will definitely surprise and delight anyone who takes the chance to go and see it. It's true to Die Hard action and hand-to-hand fights with plenty of sarcastic wit and stuffy suits.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back to being a detective for the NYPD, but is pulled off a routine night of spying on his daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), to escort a known computer hacker, Matthew Farrell (Justin Long) to the FBI for questioning. A genius hacker, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), has corrupted every intricacy of the government, from national security to airlines and even traffic signals. His goal is to create mass chaos while his crew takes over the system, kicking out all government personnel in the process.

Farrell, as it turns out, along with several other hackers, helped aid Gabriel in his mission, and are subsequently killed off by Gabriel's henchmen. Farrell is the only one still alive when McClane happens to save his life. While McClane tries to keep him alive, Farrell tries to figure out Gabriel's next move and his ultimate goal.

First, the new: Long is the perfect complement to Willis, even better than Sam Jackson. He's young, has great comic timing and fits the mold of the non-hero. This episode in the McClane saga is clearly targeted at a younger audience. Not only is rated PG-13 to expand the box office draw, but Long is well-known from his Mac commercials. Also, the main plot focuses on the vast power of obsessed and wronged computer nerds; they are given a starring role as badasses with a cause.

We also get a creepy, very believable bad guy in Olyphant, who is no stranger to this type of role. Relative newcomer Maggie Q as Gabriel's ass-kicking accomplice/girlfriend gives a great performance and steals the show in the best fight scene of the movie.

So why was another movie needed 12 years after the last one? One might say because Rocky could do it, so could John McClane. Another reason might just be a vehicle for Willis to get back in the (positive) public eye. Or you might just say, "Why not?" The last reason is probably the closest, and will be good enough for most fans.

Just like Die Hard and Die Hard: With a Vengeance, the explosions and destruction are creative, clever and never dull. McClane somehow escapes even the most impossible situations, but you always buy it because, hey, it's McClane! Fans of the franchise will not be disappointed as Willis brings back his trademark smirk and perfect one-liner delivery in what will rank as number three out of the four installments. Just like John McClane, this series may have disappeared for a while, but it will take a whole lot to kill it. | Matthew F. Newlin

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