DVD Release Date:  November 20, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: June 27, 2007
Rating: PG-13 (for strong language, intense scenes of violence)
Genre: Action
Run Time: 130 min.
Directors: Len Wiseman
Actors: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Kevin Smith, Cliff Curtis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Proving that 50+ is apparently the new 30, Bruce Willis’ John McClane may be a dinosaur in the digital age; but he’s still got the killer instincts and witty comebacks in the face of many, many dangers in Live Free or Die Hard.

While it’s often embarrassing when a seasoned actor reprises a signature role much later in his/her career, Willis appears to be having the time of his life in the first PG-13 installment of the Die Hard series. And his tough-guy enthusiasm, along with the comedic chemistry with his sidekick Matt Farrell (Justin Long, the funny guy from the Mac commercials) makes suspending your disbelief about the implausibility of the plot all the easier. After all, who needs a believable storyline when you’ve got fiery explosions, elaborate car chases, ninja-kicking girls and McClane falling out of moving vehicles and dodging missiles to escape the enemy?

Much is being made of the fact that the stunts in Live Free are handled the old-fashioned way instead of resorting to the typical CGI effects that are so often overused these days. Rather than serving as nothing more than overblown hype to sell tickets, however, that shot of realism is precisely what makes it such a great edge-of-your seat, summer popcorn flick. From beginning to end, you’re never quite sure if John’s going to live or die, and that sense of urgency is adeptly conveyed through the fast-paced directing of Len Wiseman. But no matter how crazy the situation gets, you’re sure hoping the unlikely hero, who says he’s only there because “there’s nobody else to do it right now,” does make it through—the mark of a great character.

The plot, loosely inspired by an article in Wired Magazine, explores an interesting debate in the cyber-age: If everything essential like banking, Social Security records and electricity is practically run by computers, are we more vulnerable as a society? Could this landmark technology actually hurt us if used improperly by brainy bad guys (i.e hackers) intent on doing the country harm? While the concept isn’t explored very thoroughly, it’s a fascinating premise for conspiracy theorists and the MySpace generation that’s convincingly portrayed by the steely-eyed Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), the mastermind behind the attack.

But like many movies of this ilk, or even a star-heavy vehicle like Ocean's Thirteen , the style far outweighs the substance. While it didn’t add anything to the script, a dozen profanities of a religious nature are an immediate turn-off. And while there aren’t any f-words like the typical Die Hard movie would have in abundance, the violence certainly isn’t scaled back, much to the delight of the mostly male audience at the screening.

One redemptive element, though, is the importance of family. MILD SPOILER ALERT: Despite obviously not connecting with his daughter in the beginning of the film, (so much so that the unmarried college-age student went by a different last name than her father’s), John and Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) reconnect in the end, both learning that a long-standing grudge isn’t worth holding—especially when the stakes are this high.
 
AUDIENCE: Older teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: None.
  • Language/Profanity: The Lord’s name is taken in vain numerous times, and there’s a constant stream of profanity throughout.
  • Sex/Nudity: While on a date, Lucy’s is-he-or-isn’t-he-her-boyfriend (it’s an inside joke used in the film) tries to touch her breasts; but she reprimands him. Also to divert the terrorist hacker, Matt spams him with Internet porn, which is briefly flashed. Mai Lihn (Maggie Q) and Thomas share a passionate kiss.
  • Violence: In abundance. Like other Die Hard films, the body count is high, whether people are being shot, run over, thrown out of semis, thrown into spinning fans—you get the idea. Just when John gets out of one perilous situation, another soon follows.
  • Religion/Politics: A joke is made about Warlock’s (Kevin Smith) IP address, which is “666.” Thomas says if he hadn’t come up with the plot to shut down the U.S. then “religious nuts” may have. In terms of politics, there’s an obvious dig at FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina.