A very nice special features disc
  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A very nice special features disc
THE BAD
The film is the weakest installment in the Die Hard series.
THE FEATURE
The action film is in a state of crisis. There was once a time when the action genre followed a formula of explosions, bullet wounds, and numerous male protagonists who are burnt out, pissed off, and ready to overthrow the antagonistic mastermind that has ruined his day. One of the most memorable of these characters is John McClane portrayed by a masculine Bruce Willis. McClane was a character that was actually relatable besides his ability to survive virtually anything. As a middle class cop who is thrown into a whirlwind of stress with each installment of the Die Hard series, it was always difficult to not see things through the eyes of a man who just wants to kill the bad guy so he can go home and drink a beer. The Die Hard films are so beloved because of McClane that the franchise unsurprisingly continued into last summer with the fourth installment Live Free and Die Hard.

We once again join McClane as he is forced to take action and go above and beyond to save lives. Rather than expressing the xenophobia of prior installments where the bad guys hailed from other countries, the villains are this time America's greatest geeks. A band of cyber terrorists headed up by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) is on a mission to dominate the United States by electronically manipulating all computer systems to bring the American economy to its knees. A hacker named Matt (Justin Long) is suspected of being involved in this plot, but he is actually the target of assassination by Gabriel's gang. When McClane is sent to simply pick the man up, he is shot at by henchmen and pushed into a long day of adrenaline. Oh the day and the life of an average cop! As expected, McClane dodges bullets and excessive explosions while trying to save the day, save Matt, save his daughter who is kidnapped by the villains as ransom, and save the United States from certain apocalypse.

Of all the mind-numbing sequels to hit screens last summer, this latest installment in the Die Hard franchise was one I was ready to embrace. However, it is inevitable that all good things must come to an end. The film returns along with Bruce Willis, but I can't help but wonder what happened to John McClane. It is true that Willis makes his appearance and claims to be McClane, but his memorable characteristics seem to be missing. The transition from an R-rating to a PG-13 has a lot to do with this. It is certainly difficult for McClane to complete his "Yippie Kay Yay" phrase without the freedom to do so. But it isn't just the lack of profanity that makes John McClane different. It seems as though the character is cleaner and ready for impending action. Whatever happened to the slouchy alcoholic who was forced to walk across glass while wearing a filthy wife-beater? McClane is cool, calm, and collected as he drives a car into a flying helicopter with a smirk on his face.

What also works on and off is the idea of cyber terrorists. While I know the Internet is all around us, it seems as though making computers so central to the plot is more of an easy plot fix. It is hackers who have to capability to manipulate virtually anything and play God, and that is exactly what happens here. Take for example when McClane and Matt are heading through a tunnel. Hackers are able to control traffic lights to block off the entrances to the tunnel while simultaneously cutting the lights inside of the tunnel to leave our heroes in the dark. It is certainly cool, but it is also convenient. On the plus side, it is fun to see an old-fashioned McClane pitting himself against upgraded criminals of the new millennium.
THE EXTRAS
Analog Hero in a Digital World

This featurette covers all bases to the point of blocking out any negative criticism. In regards to being insightful and comprehensive, this has everything. The entire thing runs an hour and 37 minutes! You are allowed to watch it in parts, or watch the entire thing in one sit. Some of the topics include reflecting on the entire franchise, cast and character coverage, and the editing room just to name a few.

Yippie Ki Yay Motherf****r

Now this is what I am talking about! The spirit of this interview should have been in the film itself. Co-star and fan boy Kevin Smith sits on a brownstone staircase with Bruce Willis and asks him questions for 30 minutes. If you are exhausted by upscale interviews and prefer your information on a more indie and profane level, then this is a must-watch. Did I happen to mention this is actually R-rated?

Features also include a music video and a featurette for the making of that music video. Sound exciting? Yeah I didn't think so either. Call me "out of the loop", but does anyone give a crap about a music group called Guyz Nite?
THE VIDEO
Widescreen. There is no denying how great the film looks. While the storyline and techniques with the film are a bit pale, the explosions and CGI effects are aplenty and actually impressive.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 5.1. Of all DVDs, this is one intended for the surround sound system. I can't imagine even getting half of the enjoyment from viewing this on a 13" television set.
THE PACKAGE
I am tired of repeating this tirade, but I will continue to do so every time. 20th Century Fox has decided to send critics screener discs in envelopes. I do not have the case, and, therefore, have negative criticism. So what does the case look like? Well it is apparently a crappy white envelope that is taped shut.
THE FINAL WORD
Live Free and Die Hard has its moments, but it is also an example of unnecessity. I wish I could preserve the franchise as one that was edgy thanks to an agitated Bruce Willis, but it is unsurprisingly watered down here with its innocent jokes and action sequences. However, I will commend the complete special features that give this DVD some strong credibility. This is at least worth a rental.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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