Live Free or Die Hard Review

This time the series goes back to its roots with quite a lot of action right off the gate. Within the first 10 minutes you’ve already got your opening gun fight and a big action scene after that. The switch to a more tech based villain makes sense for the modern era. This definitely ends up being a very solid watch all around.

The movie starts with John scaring off a guy who was trying to pull some moves on his daughter. You’d think she would be more appreciative but Lucy basically just yells at him and tells John to go away. John then has to make one detour on his way home to pick up Matthew, an expert hacker. John doesn’t know why he has to bring this guy in yet but it’s clear that this is something serious since a group of trained professionals show up to take Matthew with them. This results in a pretty good fight but John manages to escape.

So the issue is that someone seems to have started a Firesale. They are using technology to try and take down the country. This targets many different aspects such as television, phone companies, gas, etc. It’s all based on a plan that Matthew helped with although he didn’t realize just how real this was. John now needs Matthew to think carefully about where these hackers are and how to stop them in time. If they are too slow, America may end up being defeated this time around.

With hackers causing trouble it is a little difficult to know how to stop them. They could be logging in from anywhere and on the net they are also pretty versatile. Unless you take them down at the source they can just sign on again. There is a lot of running around here but unlike the last film, John’s team is usually on the offensive. If they can just find these guys they can deal a finishing blow in no time flat.

John looks pretty solid as always. At this point he’s definitely a veteran and knows how to handle himself. He has a tough time with Matthew because he is the very opposite of experience and determination. Matthew spends a great deal of time complaining before he finally ends up being helpful in the movie. Before that you can expect him to just hold John back.

I’d say the best sequence in the film is when the two are attacked by Mai. She’s the main villain’s right hand woman and can fight quite well. She gives John a pretty good fight and also survives some hits that would take out most fighters. Mai gets hit by a car and keeps on ticking. The battle goes a few rounds and she really leaves an impression on you by the end.

The movie also just went more all out with the fights than it has in a while. The battle with Mai for example felt more like a Jason Bourne or comic book kind of battle. There was some good hand to hand and using whatever object you could find in the background was also crucial. It was two fighters just trying to survive and taking the opponent out right away too.

As for the actual main villain Thomas, he was pretty good. The guy is definitely not a fighter but has a plan for everything. He’s all about shutting the system down with hits wits as opposed to his fists. At this point that’s probably the easiest way to do things too since it’s hard to picture someone using physical force to try and take down the whole country. You’d need to find a few nukes or something to get in the right position for that.

This movie does offer another reminder though of how easy it is to take a badge. At one point the villains have to convince someone that they’re a cop so they just flash the ID real quick. So the person is convinced but I don’t see how that would convince anyone. Badges could be faked ever since their inception and if you’re suspicious about someone already, I don’t see how a badge could help. There isn’t really any good way to find out if the person asking you to follow them is legit though so you just gotta go with your gut. In this case it’s not like she really had a way out anyway.

Live Free or Die Hard looks a lot more modern than the older films. The city has certainly changed a lot and the effects during the night time battle are on point. It was also cool to see the villains using fake footage to cause panic in the streets since that does make a lot of sense as a strategy when you can manipulate all of the channels. It was a good way to stir people up and cause a whole lot of trouble.

It’s only a single scene so this isn’t a big deal but the “romance” in the film is rather weak. Not only does it come out of nowhere but it’s for two characters who barely even interacted. It’s going for more of a funny ending but it doesn’t really land. It doesn’t help that I didn’t like either character involved in it. One just seemed super ungrateful throughout her screen time and the other one spent a lot of time whining. Both traits don’t make you a winning character.

Overall, This was a pretty good installment in the series. If it can keep up this level of action in the next one then we’ll be good. Of course you can’t survive on only action but this film had a pretty good mix of elements. The writing was on point and the story was interesting. The hacking was used pretty well and while it’s not a new concept to hack into the government, it’s one you don’t see a whole lot of thrillers take on. I thought it was a fresh angle and as a whole this is an example of taking the story in a different direction and succeeding at it. I didn’t have any real issues with the film and it’s the kind of title that has a lot of replay value.

Overall 7/10

Die Hard with a Vengeance Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as an unedited version would be more negative

Die Hard returns for the third film in the series. This one takes things in a different direction as the first two were complete action thrillers while this one is more of a series of runarounds. The villain loves messing with the heroes and so we don’t have time for a true confrontation until near the very end of the film. It loses sight of the franchise’s normal goal but is an okay film.

We open with a bomb going off and a mysterious guy named Simon calling the cops. He explains that unless John McClane shows up to Harlem wearing a sign with the offensive language, he will blow up more bombs. The police figure they need to comply with this request or more people will die. John realizes this is a suicide mission so he also takes a gun with him. Fortunately a guy called Zeus shows up and they manage to just barely escape with their lives. Simon doesn’t like this so he decides that now both of them have to follow all of the missions. This ranges from solving math equations to catching trains on time. Can the heroes complete all of the missions? The tough thing they also have to wrestle with is that there may not be an end to the missions. They just have to keep on complying and hopefully things will go well.

In a film like this you can see how that’s the most frustrating part for the heroes. The villain has all of the leverage at the moment. He has bombs everywhere and there are no leads onw here he really is. As a result he can just keep having the heroes go on various missions all day until one finishes them off. If the heroes are a minute too slow then one of the bombs will go off after all. Sure, Simon loses some leverage but he has enough extra bombs where it won’t make a difference.

It’s a never ending story and that’s why it can feel futile. It’s why I say if you are ever held at gun point and told to get in a car, just make a break for it or try to tackle the guy. What’s he gonna do..shoot you? He’s going to that or worse if you get in the car anyway so you might as well take your chances. Now in Die Hard 3 it’s a little more complicated since the bombs will be affecting a lot of innocent people. So John and Zeus are doing the right thing in complying with the missions but you wish they would get some real backup at the same time. It just doesn’t feel like they are making any real headway throughout the film.

The individual challenges are okay. They’re not as thrilling as they could be but it’s fun to see the city and the shortcuts that are used to get to each destination. One puzzle was also like something directly out of Professor Layton with the characters having to measure to containers and try to get the right amount of liquid into one of them when one container is too large and the other is too small. It’s definitely a tough puzzle to solve under any circumstance, much less when your lives are in danger.

As for the main characters, the banter between them isn’t nearly as good as most buddy cop kind of films. Zeus is a guy with a big chip on his shoulder and he’s constantly playing the race card and trying to bait John. Then you have John who doesn’t really care about this and tries to reason with Zeus as he would anyone else but to get around the tough talk he lies a few times as well. Things end up blowing up from both characters but by the end they get along well enough. It just doesn’t make for nearly as entertaining a dynamic as most films in this genre though.

Zeus gets better by the end but I wouldn’t say I was really a fan. He does step up and do the right thing when needed but it does take a while. John’s good as always even if his plan is ultimately pretty risky. At one point he decides to just forget the mission and try to capture the villains but when they’ve made it clear that they have cameras on 24/7, isn’t that basically just sacrificing all of the hostages? Things work out with a little plot armor at the ready but just running off was never an option. When he decides to take this route it’s treated as a big deal but it just doesn’t seem like it would work.

It reminds me of the classic situation where a villain says “Don’t move” while holding a hostage and the hero moves anyway. If it works out then I guess that’s good but hindsight doesn’t make it a great decision. At least it does give us a proper climax with some fights and everything though. It’s what you’ve been waiting for the entire film so it does end things on a high note.

As always John is having some difficulties with his wife Holly again. This almost feels like a running gag in the films at this point. No matter how often they patch things up it just doesn’t work out. If things still aren’t working out by now I don’t see it changing but we’ll see if this gets brought up in the 4th film as well.

The effects are on point as expected. While the heroes getting foiled at every turn and having to repeat the tasks may get a bit repetitive, I’d say the pacing of the movie is on point. Simon’s an okay villain. He may not stand out a lot but he had a good plan at the end and almost came out on top. If he didn’t make a James Bond type speech and choose to let the heroes live near the end he really may have gotten away with everything. At the end of the day his own overconfidence was his down fall.

Overall, Die Hard With A Vengeance will get lost among the many action films out there. It just feels like it’s lacking in action despite that being the genre. Technically a lot of the chase scenes and such would be considered action but you won’t get the hand to hand/shooting matches that you had in the first two films. The banter with Zeus and John also tends to be more on the annoying side compared to entertaining. It seemed like they really didn’t like each other compared to most where they talk tough but still have each other’s back. I’d say you can give this one a skip but if you want to see more of John McClane’s adventures then you may as well check it out.

Overall 5/10

Die Hard 2 Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s time to look at the next installment in the Die Hard series. The first Die Hard was pretty solid and I’m happy to report that the sequel is also pretty good. While it’s not quite as good as the first one I would say that it’s on a similar level. It doesn’t really make any mistakes and is strong in all areas, but it just loses the head to head against the first one each time. Basically anything that Die Hard 2 did, the first one did better. No shame in that of course, the important thing is that the sequel kept it close.

The film starts with John heading to an airport and getting ready to meet up with his wife. Her flight’s taking a while, but John is there early to be ready for it. Unfortunately he notices a few terrorists messing around in the airport. He chases them off, but it looks like this is once again going to be a big conspiracy. These terrorists are trying to free their drug dealer from one of the planes and they intend to destroy everyone if their demands are not met. John has to try and stop them before too many people die, but will he be able to?

It’s always rough for the hero in a case like this because there are just way too many hostages and civilians. It’s really not very practical for him to save everybody and yet it’s hard not to let it affect him either. There’s one scene in particular where a bunch of people die. The film tries to get you to think they have a chance at surviving initially but you just know that they won’t. It would be a little too easy even if it would have been great to see them live. John saves a ton of people ultimately but the body count is definitely very high. This is definitely a large scale attack.

Part of why the situation goes so poorly is because people don’t like John here. The cops are portrayed as being incredibly arrogant and overconfident. In particular I’m talking about the captain. Captain Lorenzo seems to have a big beef with John. I suppose he doesn’t like all the attention McClane got, but he ends up being really petty about it. Keep in mind that lives are at stake and Lorenzo just wants to compare egos and talk a good game. It rarely feels like he has anyone’s best interests at heart and by the time he starts to shape up it’s too late. He isn’t the only one mocking John as the Army Special Forces does the same thing as well.

It’s not intentionally comedic, but it does start to scratch that surface as we get back to back to back scenes of everyone yelling at John. Everyone can’t stand the fact that he is trying to warn them and make plans to stop this situation before it gets out of control. They’re all just doing their best to get in the way. Some of these characters have decent reasons while others have none art all. It’s no wonder why the villains had such an easy time having their way with everyone here.

Ah well, at least John is a solid character as always. No matter how difficult the situation gets he continues to try to save as many people as he can. John has a lot of great plans and in a fight he certainly deals out a lot of damage. He takes out a ton of fighters all by himself and is basically a one man army. He manages to keep the humor up as well which makes sense to keep his spirits up. We don’t get to have as much banter with him on the comms this time though.

The villains are fairly generic. They want a lot of money and that’s really about it. The main villain has good strategy tactics and their competence never comes into question. Ultimately they aren’t all that memorable though. They’re just your average run of the mill villain group that you would expect to see in a movie like this. At least the villains weren’t bad. The standout one was probably the guy who knew karate and fought John. They had a pretty good back and forth fight before John’s brute strength was just enough to take care of business.

The film’s main weakness here is that it sometimes makes the villains look good by making the heroes look terrible in comparison. One big scene that comes to mind is when Lorenzo sends a group of agents over to fight like 3-5 terrorists. It’s a large group but they all walk single file so they just get mowed down. Most of them don’t even react as they get shot to death. How do you just get picked off so easily like that? It made no sense and I never liked the idea of everyone running in single file. That’s definitely the quickest way to get blown up in a situation like this. Everyone who isn’t John on the hero side looks terrible.

The fights in this film are definitely handled well. They’re pretty back and forth which is good since the villains aren’t just getting one punched as if they were nobodies. These are still serious villains who have been training quite a lot so they better have some level of skill right? Die Hard 2’s pacing is good so the scenes never drag on. Even when there is no fight going on the plot is moving forward. There are no points during the movie where it feels like things have come to a halt and that’s always good.

Naturally the film can get a bit violent at times. Most of it isn’t really on screen as you just see the scenes leading up to the grisly deaths. People get sawed to pieces and meet other such fates. One guy gets fatally stabbed on screen though which was a little surprising. That’s probably the most intense scene in the film. While the writing is solid the script can also get a little tricky with everyone developing a bit of a sailor’s mouth. Fortunately the TV version is good at fixing this.

There is one subplot here with the TV reporter from last time and John’s wife. While the reporter was definitely in the wrong last time and just being exploitative, he wasn’t bad here. He was actually one of the more entertaining characters as he tried to find out the truth. He did good in sniffing out the lies that were being reported. He did end up causing some panic with his reporting, but unlike the first case where it was giving out critical intel to the villains, here he is just giving the public a heads up. You kind of feel bad for the guy when he ultimately gets zapped. At least he was doing a better job of getting the news out to people then the government cover up that was going on.

Overall, Die Hard 2 is just a very good thriller movie. We get a lot of good fights and dialogue here. The stakes stay high as the planes get closer and closer while the heroes struggle to think of what to do next. There are certainly quite a few moments where you will have to suspend disbelief though which is common for thriller films and especially terrorist related ones. It feels like the good guys just can’t do anything sometimes and they act less like professionally trained individuals and more like bots. These scenes aren’t too numerous though and either way I recommend checking this out if you want to see a good action movie. It can get a little intense for sure, but it’s handled with a good amount of quality.

Overall 7/10

Die Hard Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be far more negative.

It’s time to look at one of those action films that pretty much everyone has heard of at some point or another. Die Hard is a pretty big series at this point with many sequels after all. It’s definitely a pretty fun film and I can definitely see why it is remembered so well. It’ll be interesting to see how the sequels go though. Will they try to feel rehashed or will they try for another dynamic? I’m sure I’ll find out the answer to that at some point.

The film starts with John heading over to his wife’s workplace in time for a big party. Unfortunately Holly wasn’t exactly expecting him and they begin to bicker as per usual. The day suddenly becomes a lot more eventful than John had expected though as a group of terrorists show up and seize control of the tower. John manages to hide on one of the higher levels, but everyone else has been taken hostage. John will have to try and alert the police, but in the meantime he’ll also have to take all of these terrorists out. Fortunately he’s a cop from New York so he has some good experience here, but taking down a dozen+ terrorists with a single gun while trapped in a building isn’t easy no matter what experience you’ve got. He’s going to have to think fast here!

Die Hard definitely won’t disappoint you with the action scenes. There are a bunch of gun fights throughout the movie and some hand to hand brawls as well. There’s always something happening and it makes for a pretty tense environment since he is in enemy territory the whole time. John can never let his guard down or they’ll take the upper hand. It’s a pretty long film, but one that doesn’t feel stretched out. It just gives time for everyone to have a good role at one point or another. For example, the film does a good job with the cops who aren’t useless here. A lot of the time they look pretty iffy in these films, but at least they do try some good plans.

Al is the main cop here and he definitely looks good. At first you may be worried as he starts off by buying a bunch of Twinkies, but eventually he quickly becomes someone that John can count on. He is a little limited in how much he can help since it’s not like he has a high ranking title and getting in the building is tough to start with. At least he actually believes John though. The rest of the cops don’t take the threat as seriously and a bunch of them pay for it. Then the FBI also shows up and they are about as arrogant as you’d expect. I definitely like the confidence even if things don’t end up going too well for them. At least they tried right?

There’s also a decent amount of humor here and it works out pretty well for the most part. There’s definitely a lot of banter going on with the communicators. While they are plot important, I do feel like the writers forget that everyone is on the channel at times. John and Al will be chatting on the line and even mentioning things like the officers coming in, but the villains are presumably listening to this at all times as well. I feel like that should have been addressed a little more. Most likely the cops would have kept dying anyway since they didn’t care though.

John does a good job of not giving away his identity much although you get the feeling that the villains will find out from the start since several of the employees already know his identity. One of them even decides to negotiate with the villains which basically goes as you would expect. He definitely wasn’t the smartest guy in the building as the plan just wasn’t very good to start with. Holly did a much better job of playing it cool and not talking much at all. She did give a bit of info near the beginning, but after that she did good.

So the cast is pretty solid. John’s good and the other characters are likable enough. Then you’ve got his driver who gets a bit of an important role at different points in the film. He definitely earned his tip by the end so hopefully they set him up well after getting out of the car. From the villains the biggest two are definitely Hans and Karl. Karl spends most of the film wanting revenge for one of the other villains, but as a result that definitely clouds his judgment. As for Hans, his plan is definitely an interesting one. It was reasonably well thought out although I think his escape plan felt a little risky. I think a lot of things would have to go right for it to go as smoothly as he seemed to think it would. Still, he was a fun main villain to have. Hans had some decorum and was always polite to the characters even if it was pretty fake.

As you might expect the film can be pretty violent at times though. I wouldn’t say anything too crazy like Alien or anything like that, but enough to be noticeable. The writing is decent and fortunately the TV version helps with that. As I mentioned there definitely aren’t any big weak points for the film. It’s a pretty fun experience through and through. I think the length probably does limit the replay value that this one would have, but the plot is executed well so it is a good watch.

Overall, Die Hard is a film that I’d recommend. It’s a classic takeover plot and while it is always iffy to see the villains take over so quickly the bulk of the plot is always about getting the building back. Even if you stretch your disbelief at the beginning you’ll have ideally forgotten all about that by the time you’re at the end of the film. As such it shouldn’t hurt the film much, if at all unless it’s a really big deal. The film takes itself seriously but also has fun with some of the subplots like making the TV reporting a bit exaggerated. I do think that putting the kids on TV and giving the terrorists extra information is incredibly naive, but the sad part is that I could totally see this happening in real life if this made it on the news while the situation was being reported live. It totally shouldn’t but the channels want the ratings. If you haven’t watched this film yet then you should check it out.

Overall 7/10