Die hardest

Bruce Willis returns for more explosions and one-liners

BALD TO THE BONE<br>Bruce Willis may have lost his hairline, but he’s still one bad mofo.

Bruce Willis may have lost his hairline, but he’s still one bad mofo.

Live Free or Die Hard Starring Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant and Justin Long. Directed by Len Wiseman. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Well, finally … a summer blockbuster that I feel I got my money’s worth out of this year. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back and cracking wise as things again start to blow up around him, as his bones creak from injuries inflicted over the course of the original Die Hard and the other two sequels in the franchise.

This time, he’s called away from stalking his estranged daughter to pick up the next potential victim in a series of hackers being whacked. An explosive close call later, and McClane and the kid (Justin Long) are on the run from a smarmy villain (Timothy Olyphant) who takes time from trying to kill the two along the way to take civilization off the power grid, stage by stage. Things get progressively more pyrotechnic as McClane gets closer to the evil genius.

If nothing else, this is probably the most apocalyptic action film I’ve seen (short of sci-fi). There was a neat little subversive streak running through the proceedings that makes me think that Willis is more of a Libertarian than a conservative.

Does the nefarious plot make a lick of sense? No. Is the flick as good as first entry? Of course not … no cop action thriller beats Die Hard. No cop action thriller has a villain as cool as Gruber (Alan Rickman).

But is it better than the other two sequels? Well, it definitely has the weakest villain of the series, and the narrative isn’t exactly much, aside from a series of action set-pieces loosely linked together. But it was fun and easy-going with the self-deprecation, yet still didn’t come across as if the writers thought the target audience was nothing more than a bunch of mouth-breathers (which is what I got from all the other biggies this summer). And if I get the vibe everyone involved is having fun, then I’m having fun.

Personally, I didn’t even remember that it was PG-13 until the end … you need an R rating to properly dispose of the villain.

It’s an action cartoon and it knows it, but still has fun with itself. It kept the CGI to a minimum, which gave the collisions and the whatnot a more organic feel that action films seem to have lost in the last decade.

Unfortunately, this Timothy Olyphant dude must have one kick-ass agent, because he didn’t bring anything else to the table. Fortunately, Olyphant’s lack of presence is filled more than nicely by Mary Elizabeth Winstead as McClane’s stubborn daughter—smoking hot. The character has got her father’s mouth but not his hairline. I can’t wait for Winstead (who was one of the only two good things in Quentin Tarantino’s abysmal Death Proof) to pick up the reins as Lucy McClane in Die Hard On Campus.