Live Free or Die Hard (Wiseman, 2007)

I’m in the majority who believe Die Hard (1988) to be one of the greatest action films ever made. Things progressed wonderfully with pure fun shoot em-up angle of Renny Harlin’s Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) and John McTiernan returned to the director’s chair with the highly entertaining Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995). Now we have the director of Underworld Len Wiseman taking the reigns, and it’s sad to say he has effectively maimed the franchise with passive storytelling and meek theatrics. His Live Free or Die Hard isn’t an awful film in terms of Hollywood blockbuster’s. In fact, it’s quite fun for most of it’s illogical journey. But put it up against the Die Hard standard, the mother of all action set ups, and it’s about as disappointing as sequels get. Wiseman’s story is moot, filled with standard plot points and typical characters. The real show stoppers are meant for the set pieces (no surprise there), including a great scene with oncoming traffic in a dark tunnel. However, what made past viewers vested in John McClane’s amazing longevity was his character, and Willis’ older and latest version is lethally boring. We’ve seen him do crazy, life-threatening things before, but it’s been done with a certain charm and class offsetting his brutality making McClane a true mixture of Cary Grant and John Rambo. In Live Free or Die Hard, he’s just another franchise taken out to pasture by the check writers and money hounds. All of McClane’s creativity is gone, all of his dynamism drained, his heart capsized by banal smirks. It’s not one creative department’s fault Live Free or Die Hard doesn’t deliver, but it might be everyone’s for signing on in the first place. Who knew it would be the paycheck that finally killed John McClane and his seemingly everlasting resonance.

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