Live Free Or Die Hard (2007): Breakdown by RANTBO
Bitter Old-Man McClane teams up with a computer nerd to kill mother f-ers and get his daughter back. Or, get his daughter back and kill mother f-ers.
[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]
McClane: I’m nobody’s hero, kid. Just doin’ my job, that’s all. Fuck being a hero. You know what you get for being a hero? Nothing. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah-blah-blah. That-a-boy!–You get divorced. A wife that can’t remember your last name. Kids don’t want to talk to ya. Ya get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid. Nobody wants to be that guy.”
Matt: Then why are you doing this?”
McClane: Because there’s nobody else to do it right now, that’s why.”
His fourth outing as the reluctant action god, what more can really be said about the man, the myth and the legend that is John McClane? Facing a situation far larger than himself and way out of his league, for the first time McClane is inhibited by his working-class persona in this modern age of high-tech terroism and as such, has become a full fledged dinosaur. Yes sir, a real knuckle-dragger.
Closing in on his retirement, the once great cowboy is making ready to put himself out to pasture. His wife, his kids, his former allies—his hair, are all long gone. Clearly having spent the past decade and change alone, bored and discontent with life, McClane seems all too ready to mosey. Almost…
As one would expect under such rating restrictions and being released in an age where pussy-fart Jason Bourne fans dictate cinematic action, McClane isn’t quite McClane. In the 12 years since we’ve last seen our hero, he has somehow changed into an old man. Gone is the wife-beater, the swearing, the smoking, the drinking problem, the fear of flying and the relationship with Holly—However, the balls are still intact. Withered and droopy—but intact. McClane is still the take-no-shit, want-it-done-right…, original old-school, bitches-to-himself-out-loud, die-hard bad-ass motherfucker and it is this characteristic that allows him to TCB (at least) one more time. With DH4, John McClane has become timeless. Even when stripped of most of his defining characteristics, Willis still manages to keep it real and keep it McClane. I may not be the biggest fan of this entry, but I’ll always be a fan of this character and I’ll continue to support him as long as he and I exist.
Justin Long is Matthew ‘Matt’ Farrell
Sometimes in order to compete within the digital age (read: kill cyber-terrorists), even the most stalwart badass needs technological assistance. And comic relief: Enter Matt. Much like McClane’s former allies, the two meet by happenstance when McClane is asked to bring the kid in for questioning on his possible involvement in a villainous plot known as a ‘Fire-Sale’. Translation: Matt’s a nerd that inadvertently fucked up our credit reports. And in being a nerd, differs himself from his side-kick predecessors in that he’s pretty useless in times of physical strain and heroism. Further Translation: Matt’s a pussy. BUT, despite myself, I actually liked him. He compliments McClane’s bitterness and gruff demeanor with charming insecurity and awkwardness, which makes for a good dichotomy of heroism as both have equal share in saving the country from an even bigger pussy (see Olyphant). So, this becomes a clear case of bad-ass by association. Long’s knack for comedic improvisation and general all-around likability play well into making the befuddled dork not only surprisingly funny, but surprisingly un-annoying as well. Though it could be I just feel a kinship in hating Creedence…
Timothy Olyphant is Thomas Gabriel
While Olyphant could very well end up becoming the next Michael Biehn, he’s not there yet and it could take awhile. Especially if he continues playing pussified dweebs like Tommy Gabriel. To be fair, the backstory of Gabriel is that he was a computer nerd who went haywire when his advice to the government wasn’t heeded, which isn’t too much to work with, but the least they could have done was try and make him likable. You know, like the character they ripped him off of from Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Travis Dane, for instance. That guy was funny AND you couldn’t wait to see him die. And Olyphant is capable of being a likable douche, I’ve seen him do it before, so why he couldn’t pull it off here I’ll never understand. As far as any acts of badassness, those are all left up to his subordinates, as Gabriel spends nearly the entire film hiding out in a suped-up Winnebago issuing threats into a blue-tooth and the other handful of minutes picking on a girl and beating up the Mac Kid. That, my friends, is a Pussy with a capital P.
[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]
DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO:
Guess what? Nothing. There’s no gay. Not even a little bit. Even the weakling Matt gets the hots for a girl. How disappointing. But, like all the other Die Hards, time is short and it’s all about the task at hand. Which is killing terrorists and rescuing a McClane Family female, leaving no time for groping other men. Maybe in part 5…
EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:
Two lovely ladies grace the screen this round, but neither of them are a disgrace to their gender. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Death Proof) plays John’s daughter, Lucy McClane (the only other returning character from part one), and Maggie Q is the Gabriel’s #2, Mai Lihn.
Lucy is a thankfully well-written and acted combination of her parents’ personalities. She’s sensitive, smart and vulnerable like her mom; and she’s sarcastic, strong and tough-as-nails, like her dad. Not to mention, one hot piece-of-ace. And it’s not just the fact that she originated from John McClane’s ball sack, either. No, she’s something special. Given a career in law enforcement, I could see her being a bad-ass female cop I could root for (read: not laugh at). Though she does get her self kidnapped and slapped for being sassy. So that has to count for something…
As for Mai, she’s tough, but to quote Eastwood, “Girlie—tough ain’t enough.” Ergo, McClane kicks the shit outta her.
This fight sequence alone almost makes up for all the previous films’ lack of female misogyny. However, at the same time, also makes for a truly violent example of equality, as Mai holds her own against a man twice her size and gives as good as she gets. So, this one is kind-of up in the air. But with more details to follow later in the review, I’ll leave it for you the reader to decide whether or not this qualifies as a slight against womankind.
MURDER BY NUMBERS: [ 36 ]
Click HERE for the Body Count Breakdown
This entry ups the ante from DH:WAV for our hero, but only by a smidgen. McClane racks up 12 bodies this go round, and surprisingly (considering the original rating), a lot of them are memorable. He blows a guy out of a window with a fire-extinguisher, snaps a guy’s neck, knocks a guy out of a helicopter and later kills the pilot–with a car, he shoots a handful, blows one up with a truck, causes a guy to fall into a grinder and even kills a guy by shooting himself. Again, quite a step up from Vengeance, so kudos to the filmmakers for not fucking that aspect up. Even Matt takes out a few. Something McClane’s last partner, Sam Jackson’s Zeus couldn’t even manage, so that was pretty surprising.
As for the bad guys, they rack up 21 bodies. Much like the villains from Vengeance, a bunch of their kills are within their own ranks, but they also take out quite a few innocent bystanders. The last kill worth singling out was a kinda funny ode for action fans, as one baddy is dispatched by a T-800 series terminator collectible model falling on a keyboard which causes a bomb to explode. However, since there was no living tissue over the metal endoskeleton, I can’t credit Arnie with the kill. No matter how much I’d like to…
MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING AND/OR DEATH:
Gabriel Meets God
Could it have been anyone other than Olyphantastic? While not necessarily the best, or even my overall personal favorite kill, this one satisfies like none other. The whiny little shit Gabriel takes one in the ticker after it passes through the body of McClane and thus is blessed by the blood of an action messiah. And while Gabriel probably did not deserve such an honorable and divinely blessed death, he received it. Our God is indeed an awesome and merciful God.
[THE BEST OF THE REST]
EPIC MOMENT AND BEST LINE:
John McClane: Equal Opportunity Killer
I can’t seem to write enough about this battle of the sexes. McClane hasn’t had his ass kicked like this since his fight with Karl the Kraut in part one.
McClane: That’s enough of this kung fu shit. I’ve know some bitches in my day, but you are the biggest!
The retaliation: Mai gets; tackled, kicked in the face, punched in the face, thrown into a glass-ridden shelf, has a chunk of her hair ripped out, is hit with a car “How ya doin’! Hang on!”, choked with steel cables, punched in the face–again, dropped down an elevator shaft and engulfed in a fiery explosion. “Fuck You, Bitch!” Even John Hatcher would be surprised at this level of overkill.
Then comes the icing on the cake that is McClane’s breaking of the news to her boyfriend…
Gabriel: [speaking through her ear-piece] Mai. Talk to me.
McClane: [answering] Mai? Oh yeah, little Asian chick, likes to kick people? I don’t think she’s going to be talking to anybody for a really long time. Last time I saw her, she was at the bottom of an elevator shaft with an SUV rammed up her ass.
Finally we’re back with John McClane, now we’ve got a choice and the choice is plain, we can LIVE FREE or we can DIE HARD–as hard as we can! ~Guyz Nite
Few things could ever be as anticipated to an action fan more as the return of a great character. Especially after an extended period of time. When Die Hard 4 was green-lit and it was announced that Bruce Willis would once again return as working class hero, John McClane, I was ecstatic. A feeling of action elation overwhelmed me for weeks, so powerful only one thing short of the untimely death of Willis (or myself, obviously) could have possibly poisoned my glee—a patented FOX studio property pussification job. And then, it happened…
PG-13—Mother Falcon-er… I was angry for 6 months. Seriously, it almost killed my will to live (free). I can’t begin to explain the level of contempt and out-right hatred I harbored (and still do, in fact) toward the MPAA and FOX for shitting on of one the greatest R-Rated franchises, ever. And to a lesser, though equally vile extent, Steven Spielberg for pushing the creation of the dreaded rating into existence. And for War Of The Worlds. What a piece of shit that was, amirite? But, rather than go off on a tirade into this attack on Bad-Ass Cinema, here is an excellent article written by Vern that he wrote specifically to FOX on the matter that expresses my sentiments to a T: Which you can read: HERE. And if you don’t feel like reading that, here’s a picture to better visualize what happened…
The Helicopter = The Die Hard Franchise, The Car = FOX, Raffaelli = The Fans
However, I’m happy to report that things almost ended up working out. Almost. As the filmmakers had the foresight to shoot the film with an R-rating in mind. So I’m reasonably happy that I didn’t strap myself with explosives and take the FOX building hostage (only to really be there to steal (read: save) the contracts to all their bad-ass film properties). As in typical corporate cash-grabbing style, FOX released the ‘real’ version of the film on an overpriced collector’s edition DVD (still waiting for that Uncut Blu-Ray though, you fuckers), which restored all those little things that made a Die Hard film a Die Hard film. Plus it came with a free ticket to see Hitman. Wow. Thanks FOX… So in loo of the unique circumstances, I’ve decided to break this Execution section into 3 parts: The PG-13 Version (The Shit That Sucked), The Common Good (The Shit I Liked From Both Versions) and The MotherFucking Unrated Version (The Shit That Got Fixed).
But first, allow me to set this disappointment up proper: Fourth Of July weekend, 2007. Though it really feels like 1995, as even after a 12 year absence, NYPD detective John McClane is still looking good (read: better than expected, just slightly less hairy and hungover), and he’s taking on the understudies from Hackers. That is to say Live Free features Bruce Willis killing a bunch of silly cyber-terrorists that were all the rage in the 90s. You know, for kids (I guess…). Using a bunch of expensive looking hardware, the villainous Thomas Gabriel and his hot Asian and French side-kicks unleash their coded fury on the FBI’s Cyber-Security Division, and eventually, the entire Eastern coast of the United States. Naturally, this causes a shitstorm and the FEDS issue a roundup of all the top known computer criminal punks. Enter John McClane and his assignment, bring in The Mac Kid. Of course, this seemingly simple assignment snowballs into Die Hard, in A Country. And thus Die Hard 4.0 issues our hero into the modern age of terrorism as McClane must now use his neanderthal tactics to kill motherfuckers, get his daughter back (who ends up being kidnapped by the nerds) and save the whole of America in time for fireworks, hot-dogs and the next Will Smith summer blockbuster. PLUS he gets to fight a giant CG jet along the way! Wee!
Live Timid and Die Neutered:
Alright, I think we all know that my major complaint with this film is the watering-down of the notoriously R-Rated series, and subsequent neutering of gunshots, violence, swear-words, tobacco use, gore, sound effects*, and basically everything else HARD about the series. And thus, this version of the film did not, at all, feel like a “Die Hard” film. And while that statement alone should be enough to validate my rage toward the studio, here are a couple more things that stuck in my ass like a shard of machine-gunned glass…
The Tag-line: Yippee Ki Yay Mo – John 6:27. How embarrassing.
‘Yippee Kai Yay, Mother F[KABOkOMr]’. Q. Are films not allowed one usage of the fuck word per PG-13 movie? That is the rule, right? I listened and they didn’t use it. Sooo why did they have to falcon up THE god damn catch phrase!? Was the -ER at the end too controversial to have attached? I don’t understand and I can’t fucking believe that FOX actually forced this to happen. How fucking could/dare they? For fucking shame. Those corporate fuckers can %#*&@%#(*#….
Kevin Smith. Kevin hasn’t been funny in a movie since Mallrats, and now that I’m no longer a teenager, even that movie is stretching it. But this is besides the point. The point, or rather question is, why does every movie made this millennium need to have an overweight, unfunny dork in it? The War10ck sucked, OK. And this is coming from a guy who’s favorite non-action movie is Clerks.. Look, I understand that Len Wiseman and Smith are buddies, but sometimes you have to think about for the good of the film and not how cute it’ll be to interject your pals into an action movie that they have no fucking business being a part of. Not to mention, as a self-proclaimed fan of the series, Smith should have fucking known fucking better.
*Yes, oddly fucking enough, the MPAA actually made them quiet down the violent noises…
The Common Good:
The Protagonists: Once again, John McClane, no matter how much they fuck with his character, I still love him and I’m just as surprised as you that I actually liked Justin Long as Matt. Rather than getting on my nerves as I all but guaranteed myself he would, I found him quite funny. Plus, the reasons they give for him being McClane’s sidekick are valid and make sense within the context of the stupid story. And, unlike Smith, he wasn’t just thrown in for the lulz. And then there’s Lucy McClane. Holly may be gone for good, but at least we get another form of familiar female family bullshit. Like her mother before her, Lucy can’t much stand John. But, unlike her mother, she’s just like him despite her disgust. Except arguably hotter. Arguably. Her hard-ass (in every sense of the term) exterior never came across as a façade, even when it became apparent that she was still a vulnerable young lady (read: when she got slapped and whimpered). Now, if we can only get John Jr. in a police uniform for Part 5…
The Antagonists (Minus Gabriel): McClane has to take down a small team of mercenaries?… Wow. What an original idea! No. No, it isn’t. And that’s precisely why it’s so great!!! This shit is classic Die Hard. Live Free arguably has the most memorable henchmen since Al Leong stole that candy bar in part one. First you have parkour master, Cyril Raffaelli (Banlieue 13, Kiss Of The Dragon) as Rand. The guy is French and clearly doesn’t speak English, but he never needs to as his urban-gymnastic background and martial arts skills speak for themselves. And then there’s Maggie Q (M:I3, Dragon Squad) as Asian ass-kicker babe, Mai. She’s gorgeous, formidable and, as already established, her fight with McClane is my favorite sequence in the film and for these reasons and more, she should have been the main villain.
The Action and the Puppeteer: When you think Die Hard the term ‘action’ becomes synonymous, and thankfully Mr. Kate Beckinsale didn’t fuck this up like he did that Underworld movie. The explosions, fight-scenes and gunfire are done in glorious non-shaky fashion and still contain enough grit as not to stray too far from the Die-Hard mold. The one thing I made peace with was that this, as like the other two sequels, was going to be made with a bigger-is-better mentality, so I wasn’t much annoyed with all the ridiculous super-man shit they had McClane do. So, for the restrictions given him, Wiseman did a pretty good job. He’s still no McTiernan or Harlin though. Even after Rollerball and Driven. And Mindhunters… AND 12 Rounds… Alright, fuck it. Wiseman is a better directer than Harlin. Sorry Renny, I tried but you did that shit to yourself, man.
The Mother Fucking Unrated Edition:
Well, like the title above says, McClane actually gets to say THE FUCKing line. And thankfully, a bunch more fuck-bombs accompany the famous one and replace the three-or-so allowed uses of the word shit. However, McClane still doesn’t smoke though.
Squibs, remember those? They were these small (or in the case of a Verhoeven picture, LARGE) primed packets of blood and guts used in action movies back before 1996 (and ID4)* that when triggered, exploded through clothing to emphasize the violent acts committed against the actor or stunt-man wearing them in order to create the illusion of wounds and/or death. Well, it turns out that Wiseman and Willis waxed nostalgic and actually filmed Live Free‘s shootouts with alternate takes featuring these little bundles of explosive gory joy. And thank fuck they did, because it brings back the balls to the title of Die Hard. Even the wall squibs got an upgrade and were featured in a more destructive light. And they really do make all the difference, you guys. A ‘Yippee Kai Yay, Mother Fucker’ and some bang, bang–blood. Is that so much to ask for, for a theatrical Die Hard adventure?
*Ironically enough, this movie takes place on Independence Day, so fuck Will Smith. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
In closing, before all the added viscera and cursing, I gave Live Free Or Die Hard a 4 outta 10. I was/still kinda am, pissed about the whole situation. But after watching the DVD a couple times, I have a much more positive perspective on the film. While I’d still say it is my least favorite of the series, it has since grown on me and the things that bothered me before, bother me far less. No matter how much my inner-action purist heart tells me to, I just can’t not enjoy watching Bruce Willis as John McClane. Whether he’s running across broken-glass barefoot, getting blown out of a green-screen cockpit, swinging onto a freighter like Tarzan, or even sliding down a slab of concrete away from a CG F-35 Jet explosion, he’s far too bad-ass for me to question his coolness. So, if I were to re-rate the film after watching the changes made in the Unrated Cut, I’d give it a 7 outta 10. Still put to shame when compared with it’s predecessors, but still far better than anything Michael Bay or Paul Greengrass have, or ever will put out, and that’s good enough for me.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
#1. I’ll watch anything with Bruce Willis in it, despite any and all reservations.
#2. The PG-13 rating can suck my scrote in Hell.
#Vengeance. Kevin Smith needs to stick to Q&A’s and outta films.
#4.0. I’d like to watch Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Maggie Q commit a 587 together.
[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” [Cyril Raffaelli]
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Cyril Raffaelli]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Independence Day]
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
[TOTAL: 18 outta 25]
Live Free Or Die Hard (2007) © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Dune Entertainment LLC / Review © AllOuttaBubbleGum.com and Ty ‘RANTBO’ Hanson