Live Free or Die Hard: how forgettable

August 11th, 2007

live_free_or_die_hard.jpgAs we all know, Die Hard with a vengeance was probably the best action movie of all time. So it's a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, Die Hard 4 falls at the first fence.

As I'm watching the opening sequence I can't even believe that it *is* Die Hard, thought maybe it was trailer. But then the title comes up. Basically, this is not a Die Hard movie. These people have no idea what they're doing. Die Hard is about a band of armed robbers with an ingenious plot to steal a ton of money. It's not a disaster movie, and it's not a computer cracker movie. Half an hour into it I was thinking enough with the computer crap, already!

And I wasn't the only one, every 15 minutes John McClane was asking wtf is going on, he had no idea. I mean the whole point of Die Hard is for John McClane, a clever cop cut way above the dumb-cops stereotype to overturn the plot. But he had no clue what was going on here. If McClane can't figure it out, there's something very wrong with the story.

This movie is a story about computer crime retrofitted with John McClane.

The story isn't terrible, it has its merits. I think it's a quite acceptable computer-terrorist-takeover plot as they come. But since they call it Die Hard I'm going to continue discussing it on that premise. So let's focus on the bright points, cause we need to savor them.

Bruce Willis is indeed a bit gray haired for this role. But considering how estranged he is from the plot, he does a decent job. Basically he's the best feature this movie has. His cracker/stoner companion starts off very lame, but he comes along.

But now let me ask this. Did they not have any money for this movie? The casting is like a who's who of bad actors. Bowman is the worst FBI director of any movie ever. He's completely clueless, gutless, and worthless. He has no idea what's going on, and absolutely no concept of what to do. Then there's the villain Thomas Gabriel. Now if you know anything about Die Hard, you know that the whole success of the story is predicated upon a great bad guy. Simon Guber (Jeremy Irons) was a *genius* in Die Hard with a vengeance, he made the story a success. Thomas Gabriel, meanwhile, is a puny security expert gone loco with a plot to steal billions of dollars. If Bowman is the least convincing character, Gabriel Thomas is a close second. Guber was a psycho, Gabriel cries on the phone when he finds out his girlfriend is dead. This is supposed to be a Die Hard villain? He looks more like an insurance salesman.

Then there's Mai, Gabriel's right hand. How relieved was I when she was killed. It's like a contest of who can make the worst fit for their role. Then there's Gabriel's squad of French/Italian terrorists/crackers/soldiers. This is a very odd mix of outsourced personnel, they don't even speak English. Consequently they don't have any terrible lines either, so perhaps that's a plus. Cyril Raffaelli does a decent job with the parkour, but frankly if you want to see coolass parkour, you'll go see Banlieue 13, which is much better at that.

The action sequences are for the most part terribly misguided. Here's the thing: if you want to do an action sequence, you have to build up the plot first, so that it culminates into the action. In Die Hard 4 you just have a lot of very random action bits. Like the car falling into the elevator shaft - Jurassic Park already did that several times with a bus, enough already. Then there's the helicopter-assassinated-by-car idea, which is beyond ludicrous. Apparently a speeding car hitting a toll booth is supposed to elevate some 30m right into a chopper of killers. Can't you at least try to make it believable? The most complicated action sequence must be the fighter-jet-hunting-a-semitrailer. And it's not really that bad, it's just that you have to somehow buy the story to enjoy it, which is unlikely. Also, it's high time for Hollywood to stop telling us that you can drive a car at high speed and come to an instant stop without a scratch. No one is buying it.

I also don't buy the soldier/cracker idea. We've all seen so many action movies with terrorists where you have these really big chunks of muscles, expert with weapons and combat. But in this movie, they try to make them computer experts too, which isn't convincing.

Also, why are crackers always so shy and timid? Trey is Gabriel's geek-who-makes-it-all-possible friend, and he's like every cracker in every terrorist movie, full of scruples and hesitation. Theo, from the first Die Hard, was much better - he was actually evil. Sure he didn't kill anyone, but it didn't deter him either. He even tried to make away with the money when everyone else was taken out of action.

Saving grace that he is, John McClane struggles to fit into this plot. In Die Hard with a vengeance, he fought the bad guys, but he was just trying to catch them. In Die Hard 4 he actually announces his intention to "kill them all". This is not the John McClane we know.

A surprisingly well kept secret is that it's the story that drives a good action movie. That is why Die Hard with a vengeance was a masterpiece. If not, it's just boring combat and shooting. A fact lost on this guy and the 44,517 people on This review gets it right:

Boring characters, crappy script, interesting fight scenes. But fight scenes never make a movie. The worst die hard in my opinion, even worse than die hard 2. At least die hard 1 and 3 had interesting tutonic villianry.

At the end of the day, it's not such a terrible movie, it's just not Die Hard. Which is a shame, considering what they advertise on the movie poster. If they didn't do that, it would be a much quieter movie, with a fraction of the people come to see it, and they'd probably be more satisfied than those of us who wanted a Die Hard movie.

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4 Responses to "Live Free or Die Hard: how forgettable"

  1. erik says:

    You just saved me €8.50 :D

  2. numerodix says:

    But you already spent that on Transformers or something :D

    Btw can you believe it? I paid €12 to see that movie, the prices are getting obscene. :/

  3. John says:

    Why do you think every blockbuster breaks a new box office record?

  4. fact says:

    you seriously suck man!!!

    this move was fuckin one else new the program Fire sales because the asshole villian created the fucking programs!! and McClane was killing all of the ass wipes coz they got his daughter u doofes!!