Saturday 8 September 2007

Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

A scene towards the end of Live Free or Die Hard that involves a large truck, a military fighter jet, and a freeway. It's giving away nothing to announce that the scene ends with all three totally destroyed. To describe the seqeuence as over-the-top does not start to do it justice. Over-the-highest-peaks-of-groan-inducing-special-effects-that-destroy-all-credibility is more like it. 

This is not to pretend that the other action scenes are realistic, but escapism is better when it does not cross into cartoon territory.

Otherwise, Live Free or Die Hard is a pretty entertaining romp, with well-directed action, interesting characters (both good and evil), and a modern update on the Die Hard theme. This time around, a team of techno-nerds with a suitably evil leader launches a melt-down of the computer systems of the United States. Everything from traffic lights, to the power and utility grid, to the civil and military centres of intelligence, are electronically infiltrated, manipulated and corrupted.

Director Len Wiseman manages to make computers, monitors and maniacal keyboard typing actually exciting. A team of heavily armed mercenaries, complete with fully-equipped vans and helicopters, is out there assisting the bad guys, mainly by eliminating anyone who can unravel their plot, and this includes a group of young computer hackers. Of course, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is unwittingly assigned to protect one of these hackers, played by Justin Long. 

That is it as far as the plot goes. The action never lags, and Willis and Long form a decent combo as they evade the bad guys while trying to rescue the world. The characters are nicely rounded out by McClane's daughter, an FBI agent in over his head, and a hacker guru who is recruited to help the good guys. The action sequences are sharply edited with an emphasis on maintaining comprehension and highlighting McClane's attitude and wit. 

Willis is excellent and comfortable playing the older, wiser, and more weathered McClane. Also prominent and impressive is Maggie Q as one of the conspiracy's co-leaders; she presents a suitably challenging and athletic foe. 

It all moves well and hits all the right notes until that freeway scene, which best serves as a reminder that special effects ought to enhance but not destroy an attempted highlight.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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