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Tom's WrathMan Decides To LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD!!

Merrick again...
Tom's WrathMan (a reviewer known to this site) sent in this look at LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, which more or less confirms my suspicion that the film is a pale imitation of its predecessors - instead of a balls-to-the-wall "real thing." I'll never understand or appreciate the thought process here. I "get" the notion that a studio can screw up & choose a lousy director and all. I don't understand the misguided belief that a watered down interpretation of a franchise known for (and established by) its rawness & visceral brutality will somehow be embraced by fans of the previous installments. The title alone...DIE a statement, an attitude, and brings with it certain preconceptions and expectations. Expectations that clearly can not be met within the film's PG-13 limitations. The Powers That Be aren't tuned into this I suppose; it's too bad such a good opportunity for a great film may be wasted. I haven't seen it yet, thus I can't comment definitively. So...we'll see.
Here's Tom's WrathMan:
It feels very much like a sequel to Die Hard With A Vengeance, only not as good, in the same way that Die Harder felt a lot like Die Hard, but not as good. It's not set in a closed environment, and while the third film could at least claim to be "Die Hard in New York", this one is just like any other action film in terms of setting - the action moves from place to place throughout the film as the plot calls for it. Which brings us to the film's main problem... no, not the PG-13... the story. Or the script. Or the director. I'm not sure quite what's to blame here, but the story at the heart of the film is never really convincing. I can see what they've tried to do, but the chaos unleashed by the terrorists never feels real or threatening, the reality of what's going on is kept under wraps for too long and the whole thing gets a little confused. We skip back and forth between the barking-command-center-types and McClane and it never really flows. Action happens, story happens, it keeps you amused, but you never really get the big picture... there were too many questions, for me, about who was involved in what and why, some of which get answered, some of which are brushed over. And while both Die Hard and DHWAV had extended setups and then a reveal of what was really at stake, the set up was fun to watch... power lines being sawn through, hostages taken, bank vaults raided, the works. In LFODH, it's more a case of Timothy Olyphant saying "engage stage one" or "prepare the video package", and it's a little less thrilling. I'm still not sure what the point of the huge building demolition they show in the trailer is either - what purpose it serves is beyond me, other than to tie in with the title. I can see how it works thematically, but the film never really sells it that well. Plotting wise, it's more like the last half hour of DHWAV than the earlier sections, and that's not a compliment. So, on to the action, and that's actually pretty good in places. Yeah, it's PG-13, but they push it reasonably hard. There are a few bullet holes and squibs, and quite a lot of people falling or being flung to their deaths, and at least they show the impact, so it doesn't feel like they're holding back that much, unless you compare it to the previous films. It's certainly more violent than the Mission Impossible films, but nowhere close to the previous Die Hards. Most of the sequences are pretty good - the cars in the tunnel is probably the best, and the flipping car from the trailer really worked for me. The early shoot-out and chase are fun, too, but the fighter jet/big rig finale is a bit silly. The film suddenly becomes True Lies, but it's a step too far in a series that, at least initially, had pretty believable action. There are crazy moments in DHWAV, but this sequence is crazier, and with far more CGI. Bruce sells it well, but there's too much suspension of disbelief required for my liking. It also doesn't make sense - the plane wouldn't fire on the truck in that situation - and there are a few other moments earlier on that don't quite make sense (how did he get the car in there? why didn't he brake earlier? why bother with a bomb attached to a computer when you could just shoot the guy?) which is a shame. As for the language? First up, he doesn't say "Yippee Kay Ay Mother Fucker". He says "Yippee Kay Ay Mother Fu-GUNSHOT". It didn't outrage me as much as I thought it would have. It's a good moment in the film, and you can almost kid yourself that he says it... you get the point... but it's still a cheat. The rest of the dialogue is littered with "shit" and, in most places, is quite funny. There are some good McClane moments over the phone, taunting Olyphant, and they work. This is still McClane, just without his F-bombs, although there's one moment of mercy near the end which goes rather against his "let them cook" philosophy we saw in DHWAV. After the news of PG-13 had settled with me, I was actually starting to look forward to this. In the end, I was a bit underwhelmed, but had a good time. It doesn't flow that well, computers aren't exciting, Olyphant's character is not a patch on a Gruber, but the action's entertaining and, in the absence of any real, balls-out R-rated action films, it's nice to see something that at least does a decent impression of what action movies were like in the mid-90s and before. It's just a shame that it's a Die Hard film that's falling short of the mark, and not Hostage 2 or or 17 Blocks. I'm glad I saw it, but I'm not bothered about seeing it again, except... The one reason I will see it again is to see the Unrated version. Whether they shot any more violent footage is one matter, but I'm 100% certain that the language they filmed has been trimmed. There's one scene in particular where Justin Long can be seen in the background and his voice is WAY out of sync with what he's saying, and a few other bits that sounded a little like they'd had a word cut out. There's more to see here, I'm sure of it, but it won't save the film. It's a three star film for me.

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