Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle

Live Free or Die Hard 

The wonder and amazement of John McClane was how a normal, everyday guy could be riffing on one-liners and cheesy comebacks while taunting terrorists trying to blow him up.  Now, while I admire the way they blow stuff up, Live Free or Die Hard is just like every movie where they blow stuff up, just with some nostalgia thrown in.

Bruce Willis is back as NYPD Detective John McClane - a guy who always ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, but saves a whole bunch of people while doing it (the reluctant hero who finally gets morally and ethically offended enough to start kicking some booty).  Now, he has been ordered to Camden, NJ to find a computer hacker, Matt Farrell (Justin Long), who is part of an FBI sweep to pick up possible leads and accessories to a growing cyber-attack on U.S. infrastructure, utilities, law enforcement and more.  Of course, McClane soon discovers Matt is more involved than anyone ever thought, and he is one of the computer hackers targeted for elimination by the leader of the cyber-attack, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant).  Now, McClane must protect Farrell, get the kid to spill his guts on what is really happening, and try to take out Gabriel.

Will John McClane be able to save the day?  What do the terrorists want?

At times, Live Free or Die Hard is so over the top and silly the movie borders on campy.  Then, it blows right through the campy border with an 18-wheel semi truck.  Director Len Wiseman is so busy trying to prove he can carry the mantle for Die Hard that he doesn’t focus enough on making a good movie.  Sure, he blows stuff up in cool and exciting ways, and knows how to focus the camera on Willis as McClane spouts off with another witty retort (which brings the movie up to mediocre, but entertaining levels), but Live Free or Die Hard slogs through from explosion to explosion. 

Writer Mark Bomback doesn’t try to do anything original with the dialogue, throws in some half-hearted attempts at creating a cliché inter-agency rivalry, and takes away from the Die Hard formula by sending McClane and Farrell all over the mid-Atlantic instead of having McClane trapped in one place with his nemesis, which, again, makes Live Free or Die Hard like any other action movie.  He does a good job building up McClane as a man out of time and out of his element in this modern world, but that’s not always a good thing.           

Willis doesn’t have the same energy and exasperation we remember fondly from the first couple Die Hard movies.  While I can understand he needs to show us how that crazy guy has grown, matured, and gotten a little slower in the last 20 years like all of us have and will, it just helps point out why we don’t need another Die Hard movie.  When you get half of the hero you used to love, it’s like watching your favorite baseball player on Old Timers Day.  He’s got the same name, wears the same uniform and moves kind of like you remember, but much slower as the other players humor him and give him a pity home run.   

Then, Olyphant is a decent actor in general, but comes off more like a mean and pissed off Ryan Seacrest in Live Free or Die Hard.  He’s too pretty to be imposing and evil, so it feels forced and like he is way out of his league when trying to do battle with McClane. Instead of being scary, he's stiff.

Live Free or Die Hard will make you laugh at times, and excite you at times with the action, but it’s not what you might hope it will be. 

1 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Live Free or Die Hard is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation.  

Copyright 2007 -

You can support this site by shopping at Click here to buy posters!