Live Free, Die Hard an Enjoyable Nostalgic Thrill Ride

It's rare that a movie series makes it to the fourth installment. And unless it's Police Academy, usually the fourth installment is just a tired rehash of old plots and callbacks to old movies. Live Free Die Hard the fourth John McClane movie exceeded all my expectations even with rehashing old plots and callbacks to the original movie.

The formula for a Die Hard movie, is simple. An everyman police officer is at the wrong place at the wrong time, a bad ass villain unleashes a reign of terror to steal money all under the backdrop of big explosions, car chases, fist fights and one-liners. It's a fairly simple formula, that has been copied more than once. For years after the Die Hard, every action movie was pitched the same way: Die Hard on a Plane (Passenger 57), Die Hard on a Bus (Speed), Die Hard on a Plane with Snakes (Snakes on a Plane) and so on. The formula works. But it works better with Bruce Willis as John McClane.

At one point during the movie, McCLane is asked why he does it? "Because there is no one else around to do it." He's at the wrong place at the wrong time. But that's what we love about John McCLane. He could just walk away when a terrorists try to kill some computer hacker. But something else takes over. He becomes that guy. And he saves the day.

I read a review where it looks like Willis jumps into character almost like a worn in old shoe. That's very much like how the audience feels. We're comfortable with John McClane. So it's very easy to get swept up into the most ridiculous of stunts (a car that kills a helicopter, one man versus an F35).

We anticipate the jokes and laugh loudly when we hear them. Nice peformances the Mac Guy sidekick, Kevin Smith, and Timothy Olyphant (whose preview for Hitman shown before the film looked spectacular). And Maggie Q, the azz kicking femme fatale was just plain hot.

I can confirm that there was clapping at the end of the film. It wasn't forced. You could see people just ENJOYING the ride. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

  • "A Farewell To Arm" by Jeff Carlin (Wired 1997)

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