Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Mark Bomback
Cinematographer: Simon Duggan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Curtis, Kevin Smith
Studio/Running Time: 20th Century Fox, 130 min.
"All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world."
-Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”
If Bruce Willis ever finds himself as an out-of-work mega-star, he can always fall back on a career as a script reader. That is, as long as his employer doesn’t mind waiting 12 years. That’s how long it’s been since the last installment of Willis’ popular Die Hard franchise. Lack of script approval by the actor had been cited as a primary reason for the delay. In this case, patience was a well-appreciated virtue.
Willis returns as John McClane, and just like in previous DH installments, the New York cop (now a detective) finds himself in the middle of a diabolical plot masterminded by a maniacal leader — in this case, ex-government security ace Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). While many disgruntled employees in movies simply shoot up their office space, Gabriel plans to destroy America’s entire infrastructure, economically and militarily.
McClane—now divorced, bald and overly protective of his college daughter—still exhibits a disdain for authoritarianism matched only by his competence at fending off bad guys. He attempts to bring in reputed computer hacker Matt Farrell (played by Justin Long, the “I’m a Mac” guy from the TV spots) just as some of Gabriel’s thugs are in the process of eliminating Farrell after he had unknowingly assisted them in hacking into the country’s secret files. Long is geekily wonderful as the young genius who ends up assisting McClane in finding and stopping Gabriel—a relationship on par with the teaming of Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard With A Vengeance. Olyphant is also an excellent successor to previous DH villains Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman.
This movie is insanely far-fetched, maybe even more so than the previous ones. But movie-goers should be thankful for Willis' discerning eye, as a surprisingly inventive script, marvelous performances and a lot of big-bang effects earn Live Free or Die Hard its spot on this summer's must-see film list.