Live Free or Die Hard movie review – Willis still packs the heat

Live Free or Die Hard keeps franchise fun rolling

Live Free or Die Hard is this year’s first summer blockbuster in every positive and negative connotation of the phrase.

It’s at once filled with great jump out of your seat action scenes, a hokey plot, cliché bad guys and tons of stuff blowing up thanks to Bruce Willis’ now iconic action hero John McClane. Provided you don’t put too much thought into it and just enjoy the ride, you’ll have a blast.


McClane is tasked with bringing in computer hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long, Accepted) who unknowingly was part of a larger scheme to hack the nation’s automated systems.


The hack affects everything from traffic lights, federal government buildings and the stock market and Matt is the only one who can figure out how to fix it — making the wisecracking McClane a glorified bodyguard in this outing. And don’t think the subplot involving McClane’s daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is just there for fun either.

Mark Bomback’s script stretches the levels of credibility as the scope of the problem seem beyond McClane’s level of expertise so he has to create numerous coincidences in order to bring the conflict down to McClane’s level. Still, it’s a summer movie and that comes with the territory.


With his action-oriented experience behind the camera in the Underworld franchise, Len Wiseman is an inspired directorial choice. He doesn’t disappoint with some exhilarating action scenes that continually reinforce why McClane has been an enduring action hero.

Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) originally seems an odd fit for the main villain — cyber terrorist Thomas Gabriel — but he grows into the role of an arrogant tech genius who makes a perfect foil for the decidedly low-tech McClane. Long is fun as McClane’s reluctant sidekick and he provides a fresh perspective as someone who is continually shocked with McClane’s brand of mayhem.


Wiseman doesn’t let complicated logic or physics get in the way of his action movie as he has McClane battle helicopters in a car, military jets in a tractor-trailer and fighting bad guys suspended in SUV trapped in an elevator shaft. Yes, it’s super silly, but that’s part of the franchise’s charm. Willis is as entertaining as ever in the role and all of McClane’s trademarks such as his trash-talking to the bad guys killing him and his legendary catchphrase are included in this round.

The film quality is noticeably not as sharp as most modern movies. It won’t be a HD-DVD showcase movie but the lack of gloss and polish seems oddly appropriate as if mirroring McClane’s no-nonsense approach. Besides, with the amount of action in this film, picture quality is one gripe I’ll ignore.


If you want to just sit back and enjoy a classic 1990-style action movie, you’ll love Live Free or Die Hard. For you more serious movie fans, take heed, Oscar movie season is only a few more months away.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10