Saturday, June 30, 2007

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD MOVIE REVIEW























CAST: BRUCE WILLIS, JUSTIN LONG, TIMOTHY OLYPHANT, MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, CLIFF CURTIS
DIRECTOR: LEN WISEMAN
RUNTIME: 130 min.
RATING: *
GENRE: ACTION

Who is that bald dude running around in that poor excuse for an action movie with the name of one of my favorite characters? This isn’t the John McLane I fell in love with, not even to the remotest possible degree. This dude isn’t funny and this dude can’t even say “Yippeekiyay”. All this guy seems to be is a leftover from all those superhero movies this summer, with a couple of angels riding on his shoulders.
John McLane was never the one man action force. He was so special because he was the quiet essential underdog, an arrogantly funny man who despite all his vulnerabilities and all odds saved the day. He was who we identified with. He was never a John J Rambo. But I guess Len Wiseman missed the bus on this one. I guess he saw the DVDs of the Die Hard movies with Rambo ones. How else could one explain this ugly metamorphosis of John McLane?
Forget about the Die Hard series, this movie isn’t worth even the price of the admission ticket. Whatever action there is could be caught right there in the official trailer. This is not your father’s action movie, this is a super dumb, super awful action movie with all the vices of the 70s action movie with absolutely no improvement whatsoever in any department. There is a line in the original when the Feds plan to defeat Hans Gruber. Sgt. Al Powell tells us John-“The feds have the anti terrorist manual and they’re following it step by step.” Well that is exactly what the men behind this fourth installment have only that the title on the manual is “How to cash in on the name of a brilliant action movie and steal money out of audiences’ pockets?” To be honest, the Die Hard series was dead and buried with the awful third outing that just didn’t end with that awful puzzles and all. Still, it was fun. But this here is enjoyable for only one class of audiences-the mentally retarded. As for its PG-13 rating, well I advise, nah, I implore you please don’t take your kids. These vile capitalists are out for your hard earned money. I could clearly see Bruce Willis mouth the golden “f” word but what I heard was jackass. Believe me, even your kid will notice that.
Plot, let me think. Some wise man once said-“It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people wonder than to open your mouth and dispel all doubts.” This movie obviously is under the impression that using something like cyber is the in-thing. Well it sure is but please do it intelligently. It is so embarrassing to see brain-dead hacking applications with a big, glaring “VIRUS UPLOADING: YES: NO”. The bad guy is the designer and the bad guy hacks because he wants money and blah, blah, blah. He jams everything and the United States in under a cyber attack. Chaos reigns. How is wish that chaos reigned on the sets and we wouldn’t have been here to witness this blatant rape of one of my cherished series.
For a sidekick, John McLane has a real, fully functional virus/pest in Mike Ferrell (Justin Long). Are these people morons? I mean, when the pairing with Samuel L Jackson didn’t work, how in the wide world was this one going to even find its bearings? I have no idea what heavenly purpose he served that couldn’t be worked around by the super dumb script. And why didn’t god be with the bad guys for once, just once and kill him right in the beginning? That would have saved me from a lot of brain damage. Then there’s Cliff Curtis as the FBI man who is in charge of preventing this kind of cyber attack. All the screenplay asks him to do is walk tight around his office. In a way, he has the toughest job because he has to mouth the lion share of the dialogues from the manual I mentioned above. And the villain, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). One word, god awful. There’s one lady sidekick of his too, whose job is too look sexy and kick ass. Oh good lord, how uncreative these guys are. They were making a Die Hard sequel and all they could come up for a sidekick is a leather-clad karate proficient hottie. And the biggest joke is that Mai (Maggie Q) doesn’t exactly fit the bill of a hottie. Not even once did my eyes roll. Lucy McLane, John McLane’s chick, er, daughter is way, way hotter. And she is the only one who isn’t a pain on your senses. And what was that thing about Warlock (Kevin Smith)?
As for Bruce Willis, he is strictly okay. Not bad but okay. Nothing special at all. He seemed to be tired as well.
The most important point is the action. As I said, watch the trailer and you have the best part. Rest of it is pretty generic with zero thrills. It is all the more assaulting to the senses when these boring action sequences are spiced up with some humor, some very, very forced humor. Best is one helicopter sequence which takes forever to end as our “heroic” pair has a dose of humor for us. I have seen Mr. Bean shows funnier than this and I thought that was for mentally retarded.
To be honest, Die Hard movies haven’t ever been stupid. DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE was long, silly but never so incredibly dumb. This one not only asks you to suspend your disbelief with a titanium string, it even tries to cut that string. I had a tough time with my brain; times that I thought only existed in Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay movies. John McLane does everything from hitting a chopper with a car to playing duck to an F-35. And he always comes out on top, needless to say that.
Len Wiseman, what can I say about his masterwork here? He seems to have walked straight out of the sets of those awful UNDERWORLD movies. What was the need for all that color de-saturation is out of my comprehension. It looked good in that make-belief world of Underworld movies but here it pinches in the eye. Half of the action looks fake and the other half isn’t clear. How is that for an action movie? As for the parts between, it is a big yawn.
The best action movies don’t ever rely on the action. The action is just one part. The parts in between is what make them so special. Imagine what DIE HARD would have been without Hans Gruber and his explicitly pronounced accent and the exchanges between him and McLane. It had so many quotable quotes. Here, I can’t remember one, not a single one. What’s more, these guys even managed the tough task of brutalizing McLane’s Yippeekiyay.
Everything here is inevitable. It takes a miracle to kill somebody; mere worldly bullets won’t do the trick. Not even when a whole power grid explodes does our hero muster a scratch. And there’s a sequence where a whole room explodes but our hero, hidden behind a table or whatever again doesn’t have even a splinter come his way. I really liked what Justin Long’s character says when the whole power grid explodes but their vehicle and they themselves don’t get affected a wee bit. “What’s the point?” I’m sure he meant it in a different way but it sure explains a lot of stupidity in the movie. The rest is inexplicable by mere mortals like me.

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