DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Live Free or Die Hard - DVD Reviews



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</script></div>{/googleAds}We're witnessing something of a renaissance at the moment the renaissance of the ‘seasoned' action man's journey is in full swing. Back a few Bonds, and a couple of decades ago, Roger Moore became the example of ‘when it's time to act one's age, and give it up," for the sight of a man getting freaky with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter, and performing stunts/fights with all the verve of a retiree drugged off his walker thrilled as much as a Colonoscopy. Newer, younger faces came to us that decade: Schwarzenegger; Stallone and Mr. Bruce Willis took action films to dizzying, over-the-top, ridiculous heights, and we ate it up in droves. The 80's was the decade for action movies...

Time has passed, and as our 80's action heroes approach nay surpass - the age of our aforementioned geriatric 80's Bond, we are bearing witness to no-less-than a miracle. The trend is upon us again: the old men are blowing the dust of their guns, and setting out to blow crap up... but this time is different this time it's working!

Stallone actually ended Rocky on a high note; Harrison Ford will soon crack his whip, not his hip, in the latest Indiana Jones flick; and Bruce Willis has delivered unto us another successful Die Hard film... and why? Because he along with his peers acts his age.

This time Detective John McClane, now a somewhat lonely, disconnected divorcee, is sent to Shepard a hacker (Justin Long) to the Feds. Of course, bad - and very well equipped - guys and one ‘smokin' hot' bad gal have other ideas, and John is forced into another race to save man, country, and his feisty daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) before the baddies can use their cool toys to destroy the United States economy and return the world to the Stone Age... monetarily at least.

The script is a busy one, with a lot of technical stuff, and could have easily been a mess. But David Marconi and Mark Bomback keep McClane's part of the story simple: keep the Hacker alive; stop the bad guys; save Lucy. Being that we see the story through McClane for the most part, this prevents the story from descending into a Star Trek-like ‘techno-babble,' and makes the technical/political elements act more like road signs to guide McClane's everyman agenda. It's all about the fun and action in the end, and it works for that reason.

Bruce Willis doesn't skip a beat, and while he does in fact act his age forgoing the ‘hero must have young ingénue to romance' to just be a Dad the 52 year-old unleashes just as much ferocious energy into McClane as he did in 1987. He's lean, fit, and after twenty years still a joy to watch. The ‘out of his depth' panache he does so well is only heightened by the fact the world's new generation is all around him, good guys and bad, and this makes it all the more exciting as McClane keeps getting hit, outwitted, and keeps getting up.

The rest of the cast do a fine job. Winstead is a believable daughter to McClane; Long does the Hacker-thing well without descending too far into stereotypical geek territory; and Kevin Smith does a memorable cameo as ‘Warlock.' For a fan of the original(s), though, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and William Atherton are still missed just as they were in the third installment. The villains of Live Free are the weakest element of the film, and perhaps the PG-13 rating has something to do with this clipping their wings, so to speak, from really getting nasty. Mai (Maggie Q) is a watchable femme-fatale; Rand (Cyril Raffaelli) with no character to speak of makes a memorable, acrobatic impression instead; and Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) passes as the poised head bad-dude... but he ain't no Hans.

The action goes from big in the beginning to ridiculously massive in the final act, with some over-the-top but spectacular vehicular/environmental destruction, and enough bullets flying to wonder if there is diarrhoea for weaponry. Len Wiseman's imprint is definitely in this film, as it takes us dangerously close to his more comic-bookish/Underworld action, but, by letting his star do his thing, avoids crossing the line. Wiseman is an accomplished artist and composes certain moments of action like a ballet. This film is no different, with some jaw-dropping scenes throughout, particularly McClane's improvised Helicopter take-out and an escape from an exploding fighter-jet.

A year ago there was a lot of groans or doubts about the viability of our 80's action heroes being able to deliver twenty-odd years on. Mr. Willis - like Stallone - has put that to bed, shut down the nay Sayers, and if they keep making movies like Rocky Balboa and Live Free or Die Hard, then we'll watch until they fire bazookas from their motorized carts, and punch with their walking sticks.


DVD

DVD Details:



Pretty bare-bones affair, and a disappointment... Two of the listed features, being a featurette and music video from Guyz Nite, are not on the disc... or are very well hidden and need Justin Long to hack in. The commentary with Willis and Wiseman is a fun listen, and two versions of the film is cool, although the ‘Unrated' is still tamer than the previous three films Let the man swear! Dag-nabbit!

Screen Formats: Widescreen 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; behind-the-scenes featurette; music video.

* Commentary - With director Len Wiseman, actor Bruce Willis and editor Nicholas De Toth.
* Featurettes
o Analog Cop in a Digital World: Making of Live Free or Die Hard (95:00)

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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