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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Live Free or Die Hard

Computers have become such a mainstay of modern life that few of us even stop to imagine just how much of our lives are affected by them. In the course of a standard day, everything from the lights at the corner, offices, banks, and even the cars we drive are all governed in some ways by computers.

In the latest chapter in the Die Hard series, “Live Free or Die Hard”, audiences are given a glimpse of what could happen should a massive attack on our nation’s computer network occur, and shown how life as we know it could be severely altered without our digital creations monitoring the numerous tasks to which they have been assigned.

For Detective John McClane, (Bruce Willis), being in the wrong place at the right time has become par for the course, when his routine transportation of a suspected hacker named Matt Farrell (Justin Long), soon has him in a heated shootout, he realizes this is not going to be just another day at the office.

The nations computer network has come under attack by a cyber terrorist named Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), and in short order everything has shut down, and the cities of the country are in total chaos.

Since the bad guys have been so intent on silencing Matt, John becomes his guardian as the two try to unravel the master plan behind the attacks, and stay one step ahead of the legion of hired goons.

This is no easy task as seemingly every step of the way the duo are under attack from all fronts from an unseen enemy that can strike anywhere, and often without warning which results in some truly inspired and impressive action sequences.

In a race against time, old school cop McClane must rely on the tech fluent Matt as he once again finds himself the only man who can save the day before the world as we know it is lost.

This “Die Hard” is a real treat as it is the rare summer offering that not only lives up to the hype and promise, but surpasses it. Willis reportedly waited to find the write script and director (Len Wiseman of the “Underworld” films); to bring the next chapter to the series and it is a dynamic and effective pairing.

Wiseman is a fan of the series and as a teen was influenced by the earlier films in the series. His love and understanding of the characters and subject matter is clear as he stages very clever and entertaining action sequences that while thrilling, never take the place of the human elements of the film.

The film is clearly about McClane and his reluctant heroics as he laments that being a hero is not all that it is cracked up to be, and the aftermath of such actions often make for a life filled with baggage.

Willis is in top form, as he comfortably steps back into the familiar role and throws himself physically into a very demanding role, where he insisted upon doing the majority of his stunt work. His gritty approach to the character pays off, as McClane is not some super-powered character; he is a normal man, with faults who is driven to do his part when needed.

The film does take a brief pause about 80 minutes into the nearly two hour run time to expand on some of the characters and the plot, but ramps up for an amazing finale that has some of the best action and stunt work in recent memory.

It was reported that Wiseman kept CGI effects to a minimum for many sequences in order to give them a more realistic look, and in doing so, has crafted a true gem.

Some people have complained about the film being “toned down” to PG-13 but I can tell you that there is just as much action, violence, and body count as any film in the series; they were just not overly gratuitous with the use of blood. That being said, at no point did I get the impression I was watching a sanitized film, I was too busy enjoying a solid action film that takes the audience on one hell of a thrilling ride.

4.5 stars out of 5.


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