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Live Free or Die Hard

Starring Bruce Willis, Justin Long and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Screenplay by Mark Bomback
Story by Bomback and David Marconi
Based on an article "A Farewell to Arms" by John Carlin
Directed by Len Wiseman

IN SHORT: You'll never leave your seats. [Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation. 130 minutes]

The biggest surprise to come with the fourth Die Hard flick is in the MPAA rating. Yep, you read it right. It's amazing what can happen when a film cleans up its language just a little. That doesn't mean the trademark "yippee kay yay" line isn't in the film. It is. But we're not going to spill how it manages not to get an "R" for language rating.

Clearing the baggage of the first three movies away -- yeah, Holly took the kids and split -- kicks the film into gear. In the process of splitting, the ex restored her maiden "Gennaro" to herself and the two kids, Jack and Lucy. John McClane (Bruce Willis) isn't thrilled about the divorce or the name change, either. Dropping a sullen and argumentative Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) off to start school at Rutgers, alma mater of Mr. Magoo btw, leaves us with an aging and very unhappy NYPD Detective. Luckily there has been a major hack attack on the computer structure of the country and the Feds ask, via NYPD Command, that McClane drive super-hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to DC for questioning. The Feds hope that Farrell may be able to uncover the mystery of the superhack.

Farrell is, of course, involved in the hack. That means that he, like seven others who thought they were just debugging security software, must die.

That gives nothing away folks. You know that Die Hard always comes down to Bruce Willis against some uber-rich would-be Mastermind, in this case Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), formerly a security program guy for the Feds, whose discovery of a potential hack that could take down the system got him laughed out of a job. That means, of course, that Gabriel must prove he is right and bring down the country in three easy steps -- something called a "fire sale," which is hacker-speak for utter destruction of the computer and financial networks and basic utility structure of the country.

Gabriel's goons, commanded by a stunning Mai Lihn (Maggie Q) launch their attack on Ferrell just as McClane arrives to take the kid to safety. One warm up battle later, our heroes make like an on-the-road movie and head for West Virginia, home of the acknowledged king of hackers, a fat, bearded geek called Warlock (Kevin Smith). The scene, in which geek speak leaves McClane in the dust, is a high point of the film's non-battle moments. It also quietly explains what the heck is really going in the overall story, one which (as fellow viewers commented on the way out) "actually makes sense!"

Buckle up folks. You won't get a quiet, or a tension-free, moment for another an hour or so -- and then it's not very long. All the bad guys depart this mortal coil in spectacular fashion, so avoid the trailer which spills two of 'em. As usual, McClane gets the stuffing beat out of him while things blow up and/or crash all around him. The creators thought really big on this one. Story content has always roller-coasted in the Die Hard movies. Here it plays out smoothly, logically and beautifully. Even if you view the Die Hard series as a real warm blanket, comforting since the good guy always wins big, the fourth edition is a very, very pleasant sit.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Live Free or Die Hard, he would have paid


We heard five spontaneous outbursts of applause and at least half a dozen "ooo's" for the special effects. Yeah, OK, Cranky cheered at least four times. Satisfied?

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.