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|Live Free or Die Hard|
|international title: Die Hard 4.0|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Len Wiseman|
scr Mark Bomback
with Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Kevin Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zeljko Ivanek, Cyril Raffaelli, Christina Chang, Jonathan Sadowski, Andrew Friedman
release US 27.Jun.07, UK 4.Jul.07
07/US Fox 2h09
Awaiting the next onslought: Willis and Long
Twelve years after the last spurt of action, Willis is back for another rock 'em, sock 'em thriller. It's efficient and entertaining, but even more preposterous than the first three films.
John McClane (Willis) is a New York cop quietly going about his daily routine and keeping tabs on his university student daughter (Winstead) when he's asked to bring young hacker Matt (Long) to FBI headquarters. But shadowy baddie Thomas (Olyphant) has sent a bunch of goons to kill Matt. As John and Matt somehow escape every vicious assault, Thomas is unleashing a "fire sale" of America, invading computer systems to bring the infrastructure to its knees in an "everything must go" sort of way. Can John keep Matt alive long enough to undo this nefarious plan?
Duh. Since we never doubt our heroes for a moment, the film struggles to generate any suspense. This is action porn, in which exhilarating set pieces are strung together with lots of running down corridors and climbing ladders and tapping keyboards. In between the elaborate stunts and effects work, the film is surprisingly dull; and during those big sequences, it's completely ludicrous. So we have little choice but to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Fortunately, there's plenty of snappy dialog, plus terrific side characters like Q's relentlessly vicious henchman, Smith's hilarious fanboy super-hacker and Raffaelli's spectacular parkour physicality. Willis never forgets that a 50-something man really shouldn't be doing this sort of thing anymore, and he and Long have wonderfully sparky chemistry. Olyphant makes a great villain, although we never have an inkling why a man this stinking rich needs even more untold wealth.
As for the action set pieces, Wiseman directs them with energy and style. The opening gunfight is breathlessly thrilling, and the sequence featuring an SUV in a lift shaft is extremely intense. On the other hand, the jet vs tractor-trailer on a collapsing motorway is both implausible and gratuitous. And the film is full of seriously bad audio dubbing, as if much of the dialog was added or changed in editing. Which only emphasises what a chaotic mess the film actually is. At least it's a big, loud, enjoyable mess.
Laurie T, Minneapolis: "I actually like those action movies - and have to say after the 3rd, which was not THAT good, this was quite a ride! John McClane still rules! I am still trying to catch my breath! it started at the beginning and the action just never let up. It's always about the money - again!" (3.Jul.07)
Michelle, London: "This film is entertainting but it smacks of 'how ridiculous'. No human being can go through the beatings, falls and knocks experienced by Willis and Long and yet still get up to run around and save the world! A saving grace was that the dialogue was very witty and had me chuckling out loud in places. I thought it was a bit too long and the story seemed stretched to the limit. We went through a long time without any info as to what was going on and why, then it all came pouring out in an unsatisfying rush. Still, it passed 2 hours and 10 mins in a not unpleasant way!" (10.Jul.07)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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