The following is a counter-point movie review by Francisco Saco. You can read Peter Sciretta’s original positive review at this link.
The announcement of a new installment in the Die Hard series caused a wave of deep skepticism to wash over me. The fact that every geriatric actor in Hollywood has decided to once again take on the roles that made them household names is an insult to all fans of their original work. An obvious ploy to milk the new generation of filmgoers for all their milk money, these new and updated continuations usually fall short of their predecessors, turning away veteran fans at the expense of trying to make new and younger ones with more buying power.Â With all this said, knowing that an aged Bruce Willis was to reprise the classic role of Detective John McClane was a bit unsettling when I first heard of it. Nevertheless, as a devout follower of the first three films in the series, especially the first and the third parts, I attended the screening on opening day.
Already aware of the foul PG-13 rating, a dire blow to any chances of making this film even come close to the awesomeness of the first three, I was ready for a serious downgrading in the overall feel of the Die Hard franchise. Let’s face it, John McClane is foul language, John McClane is violence, and John McClane isn’t the same without a good amount of both. What I witnessed on opening night left me totally wrecked. The half-hearted expectations I had weren’t even close to being met. An utter disappointment, Live Free or Die Hard totally fails in completing the series, let alone being a coherent action film.
The absence of McClane’s use of bad words and the substitution of true violent action scenes for rubbery, outlandish CGI infested sequences cause the film to go awry right from the get go.
Len Wiseman should stick to making his far-fetched monster fantasy flicks because his style cannot obviously translate over to such a different genre of filmmaking. This time around, John McClane has been transformed into a dull caricature with no real life to him. In the three previous films, we saw a man filled with grit and guts, not to mention a whole lot of attitude, and all these elements were totally lacking from this film. He is a cartoon, jumping onto fighter jets and brandying lame one-liners with his sidekick Justin Long, who is a far cry from the beastly Samuel Jackson in Die Hard with a Vengeance.
Add to this a substandard villain, a cheesy cameo by a reticent film director, unnecessary hitmen who happen to speak French for no reason whatsoever, and gigantic logic gaps, and you begin to see a film that easily falls apart at the seams. And while all the over-the-top action scenes did not fail to entertain, they weren’t enough to make me forget how wrong this film was and how it was subsequently destroying the legacy that the first three films had so meticulously built. Totally devoid of spirit and attitude, Live Free or Die Hard makes one yearn for the John McClane of the past. Perhaps we’ll need John McTiernan to come back and rescue this series once again, since he has experience in doing this after Renny Harlin almost tarnished the McClane icon with Die Hard 2. What Harlin almost succeeded in accomplishing, Wiseman has. He has turned a great action film series into a mess of silly putty apt only for the teenyboppers and bubble gum crowd.