Live Free or Die Hard

10m.jpgLive Free or Die Hard is a bad title. (as is the U.K. title Die Hard 4.0). The PG-13 rating is a travesty. Len Wiseman was never the right man to direct this film. The cyber-terrorism sounded boring. You can tell I went in with very low expectations for the fourth installment of the Die Hard franchise despite lots of people loving the film across the web and even Dan and Peter seeing it the day before me, they praised the film to no end. What I didn't expect, was the movie too actually be worse than I expected. The original Die Hard is awesome. We all know that. It's probably the best action movie ever made. Some of the elements that made it so good were it's rawness and gritty and realistic feel. Although it had some over the top elements, you always believed that this shit could happen and you rooted for the wisecracking, vicious but vulnerable and unlucky hero John McClane who in essence is just the everday guy who stumbled across a bad situation. I like Die Hard with a Vengeance too. I think it has a bad reputation with people because it feels a little different to the other two movies in the series. Personally I love it and I think it's because the character of John McClane was so fully realised in that film. He was a little older than in the first Die Hard and he felt a little more lived in and I just love the opening where he is totally washed up and he has that splitting headache. We have all been there before. The unlikely hero again. The main problem with Live Free or Die Hard is that you don't have that feeling that "this could happen" and McClane switches from being an unlikely hero to the expected hero. You never for once think this guy isn't in control of things and the lack of tension in the film means it's a breeze for him. McClane has suddenly become Spider-Man and he can now jump off high trucks and be pushed through buildings but he will know exactly how to land and survive. He hasn't become older and less mobile in age, he has actually become a more agile guy! Did no one find that pretty weird? Another thing was that I was sat just a couple of rows to the right of around 20 teenagers aged around 15. This is Die Hard for God's sake but it doesn't even have an adult rating. And the film really suffers from this. It feels like a watered down action movie meant to appeal to the masses than to the adult fanbase which the original movies strived for. Many scenes feel awkward or as if they are missing something from the cutting room floor. Places where swear words or dialogue had been shot but then had to be discarded. The movie feels really disjointed because of this. And there's some awful attempts at delivering lines here in this film. Did Wiseman just direct each scene once and go with everyone's first take because I tell ya, no-one was on their ball for this one... not even Bruce who rarely disappoints me. I hated the way this movie was shot. Len Wiseman who I was skeptical about all along, struggles to direct action coherently and he tries to keep our interest in the film by shaking the camera and doing the swooping shot CONSTANTLY. There is no directorial style to the film and yes I can see they were going for the documentary style with the film but it just looked bad. I hated the visuals on this thing. Timothy Olyphant's character is the worst villain in the history of action movies. His most menacing line for the first 35 minutes or longer of the film is "start the downloads". Fucking great. These movies Live Free or Die Hard (pun intended) on the strength of their villains and this one suffered an awful death with Olyphant. His attempt at playing menancing (during that awful webcam sequence) was painful, I felt bad for the guy. He lacked the depth, intensity or even likeable factor. (seriously, sometimes these Die Hard films work because McClane is the bad guy. Think about it... the other film at times you stay with the terrorists for an extended period of time and McClane is the annoying guy who stops the perfect plan going ahead without any hiccups). This baby faced boy is no Jeremy Irons. And he's certainly no Alan Rickman. I'm seriously worried about Hitman now and I have been ever since I saw that trailer. Maggie Q was easily the most interesting villain of the piece and deserved a much longer running time. She did intense and menacing well and if she was the movie's main bad guy... it might have been a whole lot more interesting. The film would have made much more sense if Justin Long's hacker character (who did his best as the sidekick role) was actually Bruce Willis' son that he has disconnected with as was written in the original script. You know, it could have hinted that the reason Long became this hacker and a guy who knows so much about computers is because he grew up wanting to be a rebel because of having an absent father. I would have felt more of a Bond between them then and more of a motivation for why we would fight so hard to keep him alive. It made absolutely no sense what so ever for McClane to let Long back in that car when he went after his daughter. The Kevin Smith cameo should not have been in the movie. It was pointless, distracting and not funny. Although I did kinda like seeing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer sideshow doll in his cave. J.J. Abrams last year showed exactly how a fast paced action movie should work. Mission Impossible III was a thrill ride because they realised that they needed an interesting villain (how cool is that opening scene to MI:III) and a clear motivation for the character. Mission Impossible III had that one extra scene at the beginning of the movie where Ethan Hunt is at that party with his girlfriend and he just looks at her. The attempt to do that in Die Hard with Bruce and his daughter at the beginning I felt really forced. It was well directed by Abrams too, who is far smarter at this stuff than Len Wiseman. Wiseman might have tried to create a Die Hard for modern day audiences but instead he made a feature length episode of 24, with swooping camera angles that close-up to guys on computers. OOOOOHHHHH. I'm on a god damn computer all day, there is nothing menacing or glamorous about them, let me assure you.


No characters, bland development and a badly shot film. I hated Live Free or Die Hard. In truth, Die Hard 2 probably sucked more but at least it had a John McClane I could cheer for. No tension and no story makes this movie the one that will be soon forgotten and when the 4 film complete box set comes out, I feel this might be the least watched by most people in the years to come.

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.