Plot: The United States is under attack, but not from guns, missiles, or nuclear weapons. The attack is crippling, but it comes from computer code, not from bullets or bombs. A group has launched a multi-tier attack on the crucial networks, which if completed could leave America in total darkness. In order to pull off this epic assault, the group hired in numerous freelance hackers, including Mike (Justin Long). All of the other hackers brought in have been killed, but Mike remains alive and he is soon the subject of a manhunt from both sides. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is assigned to pick up Mike and bring him in, which leads to a wild shootout between hired assassins and McClane. The full plan is soon revealed, as Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) is discovered as the group’s leader, with plans to shut down all of America’s vital networks. As time begins to run out, McClane and Mike set out to throw a wrench in the plan, but can even McClane handle this kind of assignment?
Entertainment Value: John McClane has battled terrorists of all kinds, so it only makes sense that sooner or later, he would have to tangle with cyber criminals and that is what happens here in Live Free or Die Hard. The previous installment veered off the Die Hard blueprint and that trend continues, as this is more of an action movie that has McClane, rather than a Die Hard picture. I love seeing McClane back in action of course, but I miss the atmosphere and charm of the first two movies, as opposed to this more generic approach. So this is not about a normal man battling imposing odds, but an action hero on a rampage of epic proportions. The action set pieces are massive and fun, so as a pure popcorn thrill ride, the movie comes through, but again, it never has the texture of a Die Hard experience. As much as I miss the old Die Hard spirit, it is fun to watch McClane turn superhuman and the tone is rather over the top, so the ridiculous action elements are right at home. I wouldn’t rank this as one of my favorite Die Hard movies, but for action fans, you could do a lot worse.
Bruce Willis is back for a fourth run as John McClane and as I said, this time around all semblance of character development is tossed out the window and Willis is just asked to go full action hero. I miss all the little subtle moments that made McClane such a likable and timeless character, but I suppose after always being the underdog, he deserves a chance to unleash a god-like wrath now and then. Willis dials up the charm and rattles off an endless parade of one liners, which can be fun, I just wish the character was given a little room to feel like the McClane of old. If you wonder how seriously the filmmakers took this sequel, look no further than a prominent role for Kevin Smith, who hams it up and couldn’t be more out of place here. Timothy Olyphant and Maggie Q make capable villains, but Olyphant isn’t on the level of McClane’s previous rivals and Maggie Q just isn’t given enough time to shine. The cast also includes Justin Long, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Andrew Friedman.