Thus sums up the life of John McClane the anti-hero of the four action packed Die Hard films. The latest (I can’t believe I have not seen it before now) Live Free or Die Hard could as easily gone with its working title of Die Hard 4.0. NYPD senior detective John McClane (played as always by Bruce Willis) is aided by a twenty-something computer genius to stop the evil plans of a cyber-terrorist group to totally disable the nation’s computer infrastructure. Led by another computer genius (Timothy Olyphant) with a chip on his shoulder, the villains succeed in taking control of much of the East Coasts transportation, finances, and utilities. This is a three-pronged plan called a “fire sale.”
Next to the original, this is the most interesting and action-packed episode of the bunch. There is a mixing of the old school philosophy of shoot ’em up and pick the bad guys off one by one with a snide one liner (McClane’s signature line “Yipee-ki-yay, _____ is muffled in a key sequence). However, the addition of the detective’s reluctant assistant (played by Justin Long, the “Apple Guy”) brings a touch of new school action as the duo attempt to stop the nefarious scheme.
While the first two films centered the action around Christmas, this adventure takes place on the 4th of July holiday, convenient when most of the government is off. Speaking of the government, it always seems that in these movies, the federal agents are portrayed as nitwits who always call in the local law enforcement to handle the catastrophe at hand.
The best thing to me about the series is that there is no hiding the fact that Bruce Willis ages between films. He is no longer the spry actor he was when he saved his estranged wife from the huge skyscraper in the original Die Hard. He is bruised and battered but still keeps ticking especially when something personal is at stake. McClane is not disposable and not needing to be replaced with a fresh face every other film.
The action pieces are not bad, either. There is sooooo much going on this time that not two minutes go by when along comes another cliffhanging moment. Cars flying at you in a tunnel, seemingly defeated villains popping back up for one more slug-fest. My favorite involves a police car doing battle with a machine-gun firing helicopter. Not to mention the antagonist’s frustration at McClane’s apparent immortality.
So, action fans should not be disappointed in the latest installment of this entertaining series.