Thinking back to the 1980s, there were a lot of great action movies. In an age before computer graphics (except "Tron" and the "Last Starfighter", like they even count), stunts and explosions had to be real. These ancient action films were more humanizing, because the danger was real. These movies brought me into the action. They made me root for the hero and hate the villain. None did this better than "Die Hard".
If there were a hall of fame of classic action films, "Die Hard" should be number one. It has a regular looking guy, no, scratch that, a little balding guy going up agaisnt European hit men armed with automatic weapons and anti-tank missiles. And the hero doesn't even have shoes. We watch him get beat up, blown up, shot, cut up with glass, and berated by the authorities that should be helping him. The villains are savvy and smart, which makes their comeupance all the more satisfying. It doesn't get any better than this. (A staple phrase from the 1980s).
So the action continues in the third sequal to this movie, "Live Free or Die Hard"? 20 years later we have computer graphics and internet inspired plotlines. This update gives us the hero jumping on fighter jets, launching police cars, blowing up stuff with fire extinguishers, driving through elevators, wait a minute, what? It definitely gets better than this.
While the first "Die Hard" was ingenously filmed in an office building turned prison turned maze of death, the latest sequel has the hero driving from all over the east coast. And instead of blowing up said office building as a snide dissing of the worship of corporate excess that pervaded the 1980s, the sequel takes down every institution that we take for granted yet reminding us that the internet is still cool. I was also annoyed by the resilience of the bad guys. Sure, the hero takes a licking and keeps on ticking (another stape phrase from the 1980s), but do we need to see the same bad guys keep coming back. Who needs more bad guys when you have two unkillable kungfu experts?
Perhaps the most telling moment in the sequel is the use of social hacking to jumpstart a car. The cell phone network has been destroyed by hackers and the hero is unable to warn the FBI about an attack on a power plant. He has to steal a car and starts fiddling with the wires. His hacker buddy, the Mac from the I'm a Mac commercial has a better idea. He triggers the air bag and then convinces the On-Star rep that she needs to start the car so he can get his dad to a hospital. That plan has a huge problem, On-Star uses the cell phone network, which is down. Also, why do movies try to impress us the acting abilities of its characters? All of the characters are played by actors, who are necessarily already good actors.
Sigh, perhaps a timely showing would have been more exciting. When the audience is cheering and the screen is as tall as my house, every movie seems better. Alas, on my standard definition TV, "Live Free or Die Hard" was neither alive, free, dead, or hard.
Tagged: untimely reviews