Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Like a Fine Wine

In Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth entry in the Die Hard series of movies starring the better-and-gruffer-with-age Bruce Willis, the United States finds itself cyber-attacked in the worst way.

The…uh…fourthquel comes out nearly 20 years after the original, and 12 years after the last entry, Die Hard With a Vengeance. It is a welcome re-introduction to Willis’ rough-around-the-edges, wisecracking Det. John McClane; obviously, it’s been a while since we last saw our hero, and although I wouldn’t call him a changed man, there sure is something different about him.

He’s divorced and estranged from his family, yet he remains committed to his job, in spite of having grown disillusioned by it. But this is a summer blockbuster, after all, so whatever funk he’s in, it’s going to be short-lived.

A mysterious fellow has launched a crippling “fire sale” on the country’s online infrastructure – traffic signals that go cuckoo bring cities to a halt; federal buildings are evacuated because of false anthrax alarms; financial markets crash; airplanes are grounded; the entire eastern corridor’s electricity is threatened – so it’s up to McClane to save the day.

Brawn meets brains when McClane is dispatched to pick up Matt Farrell (Justin Long), a computer hacker, and deliver him to the FBI in Washington, D.C., for questioning.

But moments after McClane shows up at Matt's door, an international crew of bad guys (including a très acrobatique et sexy mofo played by Cyril Raffaelli) assaults the apartment, setting off a long Fourth of July Weekend for the pair.

Parenthesis: Raffaelli is sooo hot – I had to simmer take a moment to simma down na. Il est simplement irresistible.

As they try to stay alive and ahead, McClane and Matt figure out who's masterminding the “fire sale” – bitter security expert Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) – and encounter danger and excitement at every turn, including a death match between the no-nonsense detective and Gabriel's lover and accomplice (Mission: Impossible III’s Maggie Q), a badass martial-arts fighter.

Len Wiseman directed the movie with a vigor that is somewhat implausible, but Live Free or Die Hard succeeds in being that rare action movie that keeps it reasonably real, by today’s over-CGI’d standards, anyway. It's all about McClane. Some stunts will have you thinking McClane has learned to defy gravity in ways that no man ever could. But then again, didn’t he always?

Welcome back, McClane. You’ve only gotten better, so don’t be stranger….

My Rating ***

Photo: 20th Century Fox.

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