johnlink ranks LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (2007)

I am a completest. I did the three good DIE HARD reviews over the last couple of months, and have been meaning to get around to watching the unfortunate fourth one. The verdict? Not as bad as I remember in some ways, but worse in others.

The fourth installment could be called DIE HARD: TECHNOLOGICAL MELTDOWN. That is all I have in terms of a plot summary.

I watched LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (2007) on 7.29.09. It was my second viewing of the film.

NOTE: THIS RANKING UTILIZES THIS SITE’S ORIGINAL SYSTEMIC ARTICLE WRITING METHOD. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE RANKINGS WERE ARRIVED AT, HOWEVER, REMAINS THE SAME.

FILM

I think that, if they ever do make a fifth movie in this series, they need to go back to a small scale. Each film has gotten bigger. The first one is limited to a building. The second to an airport and the surrounding neighborhood, the third takes place through all of NYC (and one scene in Canada). The most recent one hops from NY to DC to Baltimore and back to DC. The sense of time and space has been lost, making the events less suspenseful.

They filmmakers did a horrible job deciding where they were at any given time. A room is described as being on the fourth floor. But when the fight is taken to an elevator shaft, there seems to be no bottom for hundreds of feet. And, in the scene at the Social Security building in the end, there is no sense of how close people are to each other, or how anyone knows where to go. Say what you will about the first film, but we always knew where John McClane was.

This is a movie which needs to be made seriously. The concept of our entire technological net being manipulated and shut down would make for a good movie. Here, it serves as a generic backdrop for a substandard action film. SCORE: 3

MOVIE

But, oh, some of those action sequences are spectacular. The scene when McClane meets Matt Farrell (MAC from the MAC/PC commercials), and they get shot at in the apartment is classic DIE HARD action. The scene in the tunnel is wonderfully shot, and the effects are great (though they are less so later, more on that soon). However, there is one completely unfortunate action sequence at the end, which spoils it all for the rest of the film. I was with this movie until Bruce Willis gets in the big rig.

On another note, I watched the UNRATED version. I don’t need gratuitous violence and language, but there was something not right in the theatrical version with a PG-13 John McClane. It felt like watching a TV cut of PULP FICTION. It just wasn’t right. Not that I’ll b revisiting this movie often, but if I do watch it again, I’d always watch the unrated version. SCORE: 7

ACTING

I like the chemistry between Willis and Long. They do a nice job together, and provide plenty of laughs. Timothy Olyphant is no Hans Gruber, but he is a serviceable villain. The acting in this is ho-hum. Nothing terrible, but nothing special. SCORE: 4

WRITING

This script pisses me off. Because, while much of the dialogue is fine, the story sucks. They try to make it a DIE HARD movie by showing a picture of McClane’s wife and having another Agent Johnson (which Willis mildly registers when he hears). But really, it’s not a DIE HARD movie at all. It’s an excuse to throw a franchise name on a script and make it more money. SCORE: 4

BONUS

There is a big-rig/fighter jet action sequence in the end of this film which sucks in numerous ways. For one, Liz was dead asleep on the couch next to me. She woke up at 3AM, saw four seconds of the scene and said “I didn’t realize the special effects in this one were so bad.” And then fell immediately back to sleep.

My problem with the scene is that it is everything wrong with extending a franchise without thinking. In the first film, McClane holds onto a fire hose as he jumps off a building. It’s unrealistic, but we can see how it maybe, supposedly happened. In this one, he jumps out of the front of a big rig, onto a moving jet, spins around a bunch of times, jumps off the jet from forty feet onto pavement. He sees the jet falling then dives between two sections of crumbled bridge (oh yeah, the US fighter jet was openly firing on packed roadways with missiles and machine gun fire, crushing a major highway bridge… or, as they call it in Hollywood, realism). McClane slides through the highway pieces, like a slide, as the fake explosion happens behind him, filling the gap with fire. He comes out the other side fine. Shakes it off, and then the van he was following inexplicably drives right past his view so he can go chase it down.

In TV they call the point when a show becomes completely unbelievable and starts to permanently suck  ‘Jumping the Shark’. There was a movement after the last INDIANA JONES film to call a similar event in a movie ‘Nuking the Fridge’. I think we didn’t have to wait for Indy to come out. It would be more fitting to call the moment when a movie becomes ridiculous ‘Jumping the Jet’. SCORE: -1

FINAL TALLY

FILM: 3; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 4; WRITING: 4; BONUS: -1

TOTAL: 17

FINAL TALLY: 4.25

Which concludes my DIE HARD review with the following final tallies (with entertainment number included, since that is what matters most, I think, for these movies):
DIE HARD: 6.75 (8); DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER: 5.5 (8); DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE 5.5 (8); LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD: 4.25 (7)

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~ by johnlink00 on July 29, 2009.

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