Live Free or Die Hard
Dir. Len Wiseman. 2007. PG-13. 130mins. Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Somewhere around the halfway mark of Live Free, the villain taunts the ultimate bad-luck cop John McClane (Willis): “You’re a Timex in a digital-watch world.” McClane certainly takes a licking and keeps on ticking. He gets a car hurled at him, faces the onrushing flames of huge explosions twice, is the target of air-to-ground missiles, is dropped from a jet aircraft spinning out of control and still keeps going relentlessly after the cyberterrorists who are crashing the entire infrastructure of the United States.
The script follows the rules of this series scrupulously. Terrorism is a cover for greed. The chief baddie takes a member of McClane’s family hostage, never a good idea, but always a villain’s go-to negotiating strategy. McClane, meanwhile, deals with a hacker (Long), who realizes too late that his talents have been used for evil and provides some comic relief and a point of identification for the under-30 audience.
The pleasant surprise is that Live Free ticks along like that Timex, with a reassuring rhythm. Wiseman, best known for his virtually incoherent direction of the Underworld films, proves he can in fact assemble an action sequence. And Willis does exactly what we want—looking frustrated for the first half and then going after the bad guys like the wrath of God. Brainless? Sure. Entertaining? Yup. (Opens Fri; Click here for showtimes.)—Hank Sartin