Friday, July 13, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard (Len Wiseman, 2007)

Live Free or Die Hard (Len Wiseman, 2007)


Never been a big fan of the "Die Hard" movies--well, Alan Rickman in the first made for a memorably witty villain, the outrageous escapes and climactic explosions in the second outstripped the first (at the expense of the first's token attempts at realism, of course), New York City was put to good use in the third (which also had this wonderful idea--fairly well realized--about bombs with riddle-activated detonators)--but no, not a big fan. They're loud, they're obvious, and once in a while they allow the action to grind to a halt while the main character--one John McClane, ostensibly of the NYPD but with training that seems more Delta Force than police academy--grouses about how lousy life and the police department has treated him.

This fourth installment is pretty much more of the same. Willis seems to want to prove that at fifty-two he can still cut it as an action hero when this could have been a wonderful opportunity to show a fifty-two-year-old man cutting it as an action hero--that's what made Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky Balboa" partway affecting, as half of an effective drama on advancing age (the second half being an old (and not in a good way) retread of the Rocky clich├ęs). So: no blood pressure pill jokes, no constipation jokes, no Viagra jokes; maybe one or two lukewarm jabs at McClane's taste in music, but not even a hint or suggestion that maybe the knees aren't bending as readily as before, the ticker beating as steadily as before, or that nervy trigger finger squeezing perhaps a touch slower than before--no siree. The filmmakers have always been proud to present a human-sized protagonist, able to feel pain and not a little suffering, but this guy shrugs off shrapnel and gunshot wounds like water off a duck's back (as Clark Kent might put it when shot with a .38 revolver: "Huh?").

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