Saturday, June 30, 2007

Conflicted

Well, I'm back from my much needed, kid-free break. My husband and I even managed to sneak in a movie. We went and saw Live Free or Die Hard and I definitely have mixed feelings about the movie. I still like Bruce Willis as John McClane. He never seems to take himself too seriously and he's surprisingly still credible as a tough guy. And you gotta admit, it's pretty impressive he can still play a character that originated almost 20 years ago. The first Die Hard will always be a tough act to follow. I remember when the first movie came out. It was such a great action film for its time and Bruce Willis was (and still is) a rarity in that he was a decent actor taking on an action role. John McClane is kind of a quintessential Bruce Willis character in that he is a wise-cracking tough guy. But it's what Bruce is good at and I love to watch him. This particular Die Hard decides to take on cyber terrorism and, I have to admit, I kind of liked the premise. The bad guy in this film, Thomas Gabriel- played by a charismatic Timothy Olyphant- is a former government computer expert who tries to warn his oblivious superiors about the vulnerability of America's computer systems. Not surprisingly, no one listens to him and he ends up publicly crucified and humiliated. Gabriel (predictably) vows revenge and instigates a system wide crash of virtually every computer network in the country. Part of Gabriel's plan involves computer hacker Matt Farrell, played by Justin Long, who unwittingly writes a necessary piece of computer code. McClane ends up involved in the situation when he goes to Farrell's apartment to pick him up for questioning at the same time Gabriel's men arrive to kill the computer nerd. The plot plays on our fears of cyber vulnerability, though in a much different way than movies like The Terminator. It's more plausible as a set up, but in true action film fashion it quickly gets unrealistic. And that's where I end up conflicted. I know better than to expect action films to be realistic. But it is so ironic that I went to see this movie right after writing my Incredible Resilience post. None of the movies I mention in that post (including the original Die Hard) have anything on this movie insofar as the unbelievable durability of McClane's character. I mean, there were so many moments that were waaaaaay over the top. But at the same time, you get the feeling that the director (or scriptwriter or whatever....) gets it because there are a lot of humorous moments that seem to poke fun at this. There's one scene in which McClane, after jumping out of a car at a very high speed, is lying on the road, bleeding and beat up. Farrell comes running up, a bit haggard--but uninjured after a recent close call, and McClane asks him if he's okay. Farrell says that he thinks he has bruised his abdomen and his asthma is acting up. McClane just looks up at him and starts laughing. And it's moments like this that made the movie enjoyable. It did a good job at mixing humor with action and most of the time I liked it. But at other times it was so over the top I couldn't help but ask myself, should I be liking this? Whether you enjoy a movie or not is a completely subjective thing. I know we've all had those moments when we found ourselves liking something despite our better judgement and an action film is not meant to be super believable. Yet I wouldn't be honest if I said I didn't spend a fair amount of time kind of looking at the screen thinking, oh come on. It was slick the way big movies are. The explosions big, the fight scenes are what you would expect them to be and I did like most of the actors. I thought Justin Long did a good job and he played off Willis very well. But...like the title of the post says, I'm conflicted. I liked the movie...I think.

15 comments:

Stewart Sternberg said...

I actually liked Die Hard With A Vengeance more. However this film was fun. I came with little expectations and didn't challenge any of the science...or even the physics. The stunts were amazing, the CGI almost seamless (god bless them). I liked the two leads --good chemistry between McClain and his prisoner. I even liked Kevin Smith as Warlock.

Of all the BIG films this summer, this has been the best so far. It didn't let down. It delivered what was expected. Get the popcorn, kick up the feet and let the mind go.

We'll see how the other biggies are this month (Harry Potter and Transformers) but...so far, in a field of SPIDERMAN 3, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, and FANTASTIC SNORE, this one held its own and then some

---by the way, have you noticed the amazing drop in the blog world during the summer. This is a good thing.

Crunchy Carpets said...

I would like to see it.....I do like Bruce. I think he is a cool guy.

thanks for the review.

SQT said...

I haven't seen them all, but from what I've heard this one has been the best so far. I'm still hoping "Transformers" is decent.

I almost mentioned Kevin Smith too. He was funny without being too stereotypical.

Overall I did enjoy it. It's just hard not to question how over-the-top some of the action sequences were. I went back and forth over this one while I was watching it.

And you're right Stu, blog traffic is way down.

Alex said...

OMG! They made another Die Hard film? This is worse than the Rocky series.


Seriously, they should have Bruce Willis and Sly Stalone drop their canes or walkers and brawl it out in the next Rambo stinkfest!

I'm sorry, folks, but action heroes can grow hair in places other than their ears and scrotum. And they don't have osteoperosis - action heroes plus brittle bones equals one long filming process.

/gag

SQT said...

I know Alex. You keep waiting for one of them to break a hip.

Carl V. said...

I say let yourself go, SQT, and be okay with enjoying it!

I actually think they do such a great job with the Die Hard movies that they almost make the many implausable moments seem believable.

John McClane has become such an iconic action hero character and I was very pleased with the results of this one.

I agree with what Stewart said, and in fact said something similar in my review, that this has been the best of the summer blockbusters so far and I really think it will end up being one of the best still when all is said and done.

From start to finish it was just a fun film, and Bruce Willis, even at his age, is a fantastic action star. I hope he keeps cranking out entertaining films well into 'old age'.

DesLily said...

I love the Die Hard movies.. good to hear this one didn't go to pot! lol..

Fab said...

I'm a bit reluctant to go see this one. I fear it will be predictable and a fourth one ... I don't know. He has to save his daughter, no? I pretty much expected so. But hey, the comments here are, so far, good. Maybe I need to see it before judging.

Matt said...

I saw Die Hard 4 too and I have to admit I also liked it. It was a lot like watching every action flick from the last ten years all rolled into one. Watching DH 4 was like seeing parts of True Lies, Enemy of the State, The Net, Italian Job, and others at the same time. It wasn't a fresh movie, but it was a packed movie. And enjoyable.

Matt

Irene said...

Watch Transformers! ;p

avery said...

I'm a big John McClane fan. I was a little leery of going to see this one, because the second Die Hard was so bad (the third redeemed itself somewhat). Maybe I'll try and check out this one.

My contact in the picture car industry also used to be a P.A. and worked on the second Die Hard. I still have a bottle of unopened sparkling cider the bad guys were 'drinking' while celebrating their victory in the warehouse. I was only around twenty-one when I got it, and knowing I had something that had been within a twenty-foot radius of Bruce Willis was just the most amazing thing ever.

Someday I'll be dying under a pile of old newspapers and the paramedics will see this nasty, old, flat bottle of cider and ask why in the world I was saving it. Just before I die, I'll gasp, "Bruce Wil..."

Maybe I should just throw it out.

Lee said...

I can't help it. I like that Bruce Willis smirk.

ShadowFalcon said...

I'm seeing it next week, but have my doubts just like Indian Jones 4...

Alex said...

You're worried #4 might be predictable?!

As if numbers 1-3 weren't! Even the buttpirates of the lesser antilles trilogy had a better chance of surprising me than the die hard films. Hell, the spiderman and batman pieces of @#$% aren't even as bad... sure, good always wins, but at least they once in a while get creative as to how.

The Die Hard series = movies for people mesmerized by on-screen explosions and pretty lights.

And maybe the old ladies who think the aged 'action' hero is hot.

My Reflecting Pool said...

I'll watch it when it comes to cable of on demand. I hate movie theaters these days.