I've just come from seeing "Live Free of Die Hard." This is essentially Die Hard 4, starring Bruce Willis. This film tries very hard to be slick
and 'real' as the hero runs, shoots, and fights his way through a technology-driven world that he barely understands. The script writing for this
two-hour entertainment is adequate for the task, but it's not very deep. The actors deliver decept perfoances, in spite of the fact that they aren't
given very much to work with. Taken as the sum of its parts, this film can serve as a cautionary tale. That's how I choose to see it.
In this third sequel, Bruce Willis does a good job of playing to his 51 years of age as a Senior Detective who has spent a little too much time on the
mean streats of New York. John McLean is now divorced and on the outs with his kids. The glory days of his first three adventures are well behind him.
A routine call from a police dispatcher sends him on a collison course a very high tech terrorist who is bent on teaching American politicians a
lesson while making off with a few billion dollars. As McLean says in the film, "it's always about the money."
The Villain of this piece is a computer genius named Gabriel, who reminded me of a watered down version of the very bad man we saw in "Swordfish."
[John Travolta, 2001] Travolta's tech-savvy killer had a screen presence that this bratty bad boy does not. Even so, the actor remains cool as he
delivers what I can only think of as adequate dialogue. The writers missed out on a lot of chances to inject the witty reparte and one-liners that
were so liked in the first two Die Hard films. I am left with the rather strong impression that the director wanted to tune the language down just a
little too far. I think that once again, the audience suffers at the hands of a politically correct influence.
From the start, McLean is the reluctant hero. At one point, he says "sometimes you just gotta be that guy." Very few of his customary tag lines are
heard in this film, and his demeanor is sour from beginning to end. As a writer who is trying to make his way in the world of heavy-handed publishers,
I get the idea that heros aren't that popular any more, but come on. Some times, you jus gotta be that guy.
Willis is no anti-hero in this film. From teh start, his character is greeted and accepted by officials from the department of Homeland Security who
don't really seem all that bright. It was nice to see that McLean didn't have to fight tooth-and-nail to be heard, but the Feds relied on his daring
just a little too much for my liking. In my novel, "Politics & Patriotism: The Fisk Conspiracy," I showed you that I could put words together to
portray government officials. The bureaucrats in this film were just not believable to me. I say this because I was once a Federal employee, so I've
seen the type up close and personal.
A lot of what goes on in this film relies on technology and geek-speak. Much of it has been tuned down and simplified for the audience, and it shows.
If you can get past that, the rest of the movie will be fun. the moral of this story is that we are vulnerable to our own technology. the comptuers
that make our lives easier can be used against us by anyone who means us harm, to include our fellow citizens who want to "teach us a lesson." I
have no doubt that conspiracy theorists of all types will be dissecting this film for the next six months.
This film does have influences that go beyond "Swordfish." A running gun battle between a jet fighter and a semi-truck contains elements of "True
Lies" and "Terminator 2." I won't fault the director for including what were obviously itntended to be epic battles. I will fault the director for
using them as filler. The camera work in this film is good enough to show you that everything about this story was deliberate, down to the rather
painful choices in dialogue.
We may never see the character of John McLean again, but we'll know that he did manage to rise to the challenge just one more time. Some times, heros
really are just "that guy" has to act because he really does know the difference between right and wrong. In the modern world, where terrorism can
come from any direction, our choices are limited. Live free, or die hard.
NOTE: You can also listen to the following ATS Member Podcast
on this topic.
[edit on 2-7-2007 by Justin Oldham]