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"Yippee-Ki-Yay!"

Posted at 3:34 PM on June 27, 2007 by Euan Kerr


I rolled back into the Movie Natters homestead last night to be greeted by the family and a host of houseguests. They all knew I had just come from "Live Free or Die Hard" and naturally wanted to know what I thought. All I could do was make explosion noises.

This spread some confusion in the group, or at least a difference of understanding. The female element in the room didn't think the sounds necessarily boded well. The males all grinned.

"Live Free or Die Hard" is a lot of fun as long as you don't think to hard about it. It makes no sense that one paunchy balding guy who has little or no understanding of cyber-security becomes the pivotal figure in trying to foil an audacious plot to take over the country by seizing control of the computers that run everything from the traffic lights to the pension funds. It makes no sense that he does it with a hand gun.

But it's deeply satisfying.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is the embodiment of the middle-aged working Joe. Even in the first film in the "Die Hard" he was world-weary, and now his life is even more of a mess. Then he gets asked to transport Matt Farrell (Justin Long) from Baltimore to Washington things get markedly worse.

Farrell is a hacker who unwittingly wrote part of the code which is bringing down the country. Shortly after McClane arrives at Farrell's place a bunch of European assassins turn up to blow the cyberpunk to smithereens. McClane objects, and intervenes in his own wisecracking, bullet-pumping way.

The explosions and the chases follow on in a flood of stunts, crashes, punch-ups and gunfights. It's a big-screen extravaganza with cars flying through the air, fire rescue equipment becoming weapons, and seemingly thousands of bullets blasted at McClane to little effect.

It's heart-pounding stuff and even when it becomes ridiculous near the end, it's marvelously, mindlessly entertaining. Matt Farrell may be a nerd wimp, and he may claim to despise much of what John McClane stands for, but deep down he is just a young McClane at heart. Long and Willis play off one another perfectly. McClane tells Farrell he doesn't want to be a hero, he only does what he does because "no-one else is doing it." Farrell becomes a hero in his own way as the film for much the same reason, and McClane is wise enough to see it and appreciate it even if the kid hates CCR.

Kevin "Clerks" Smith's cameo as the uber-cyber-nerd Warlock is a gem too.

So don't expect poetry, don't expect sensitivity, and don't expect logic and plot depth, but do see it on a large screen.

June 2007
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