Saturday, June 30, 2007
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.