"The best of the best is back and better than ever" (WNYW-TV) in the latest installment of the pulse-pounding, thrill-a-minute Die Hard action films. New York City detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) delivers old-school justice to a new breed of terrorists when a massive computer attack on the U.S. infrastructure threatens to shut down the entire country over Independence Day weekend.
Twelve years after Die Hard with a Vengeance, the third and previous film in the Die Hard franchise, Live Free or Die Hard finds John McClane (Bruce Willis) a few years older, not any happier, and just as kick-ass as ever. Right after he has a fight with his college-age daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a call comes in to pick up a hacker (Justin Long, a.k.a. the "Apple guy") who might help the FBI learn something about a brief security blip in their systems. Now any Die Hard fan knows that this is when the assassins with foreign accents and high-powered weaponry show up, telling McClane that once again he's stumbled into an assignment that's anything but routine. Once that wreckage has cleared, it is revealed that the hacker is only one of many hackers who are being targeted for extermination after they helped set up a "fire sale," a three-pronged cyberattack designed to bring down the entire country by crippling its transportation, finances, and utilities. That plan is now being put into action by a mysterious team (Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood, and Maggie Q, Mission: Impossible 3) that seems to be operating under the government's noses.
Live Free or Die Hard uses some of the cat-and-mouse elements of Die Hard with a Vengeance along with some of the pick-'em-off-one-by-one elements of the now-classic original movie. And it's the most consistently enjoyable installment of the franchise since the original, with eye-popping stunts (directed by Len Wiseman of the Underworld franchise), good humor, and Willis's ability to toss off a quip while barely alive. There was some controversy over the film's PG-13 rating--there might be less blood than usual, and McClane's famous tag line is somewhat obscured--but there's still has plenty of action and a high body count. Yippee-ki-ay! --David Horiuchi
Stills from Live Free or Die Hard (click for larger image)