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Live Free or Die Hard

The Yippie Ki Yay is Back…

If Sylvester Stallone can slap on the gloves for a sixth time in Rocky Balboa, the idea of Bruce Willis bellowing "Yippie Ki Yay…" a few more times in yet another installment of Die Hard is no less plausible. The everyman, down-on-his-luck-cop John McClane is back in Live Free or Die Hard. He’s older, he’s balder, but he can still take a shot and gives as good as he gets.

A group of cyber-terrorists systematically starts bringing the United States to its proverbial knees via some pretty slick (if unbelievable) computer hacking. McClane is tasked with escorting a particular adept hacker, Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to Washington D.C. to help get to the bottom of things. Naturally, McClane finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and bullets (and various vehicles) begin to fly.

The story behind Live Free or Die Hard is in some ways the most compelling of any of the Die Hard films as it dovetails with the paranoia and fear that has in many ways come to define the post 9/11 era. We are vulnerable and Live Free or Die Hard exploits this largely warranted fear and paranoia to the "nth" degree.

Fortunately, Live Free or Die Hard is only a movie and there are more than a few moments that remind the viewer that a shutdown of the infrastructure of the United States would likely be beyond the capabilities of a group of even the most ardent, talented uber-hackers. At least, one hopes.

The interesting twist on this latest installment of bDie Hard is the tongue in cheek acknowledgement that McClane is a veritable dinosaur. Email? Internet? Windows? McClane wouldn’t know an operating system from a doughnut. This leads to some very amusing exchanges between the geeked out uber-hacker Farrell and the analog action hero, McClane. While McClane can kick some ass, he needs Farrell’s gifts to help him track down the recipients of said ass kicking.

Despite the fact that this is the first installment of Die Hard to come with a PG-13 rating, most action fans won’t be disappointed. There is no shortage of unbelievable fights and action sequences. If you can appreciate McClane taking on a helicopter with a beat up police squad car, you’ll appreciate the kind of action that defines Live Free or Die Hard. Granted, you may be somewhat disappointed at the relative dearth of expletives, but you do get at least one solid "Yippie Ki Yay".

In a summer filled with over the top, amazing special effects and super powered heroes (and villains), director Len Wiseman chose a minimalist route with Live Free and Die Hard. This one is pretty much a straight up, in your face action flick. McClane dons no cape or mask and it works for the most part. Admittedly, what McClane pulls off at various points in the film more than stretches one’s ability to suspend disbelief, but even the most absurd stunt is still entertaining.

Part of the appeal of the first Die Hard was the everyman quality of John McClane. He didn’t look like an action hero. He got beat up, he got bloody, and when he won…it was usually far from pretty. Director Len Wiseman has wisely kept this legacy here while infusing it with some modern elements.

However, McClane’s status as the "cowboy" action hero is a bit questionable at this juncture given the ridiculous number of times he’s had his ass kicked and dodged death. McClane can’t be human. That being said, Live Free and Die Hard is one of the best straight up action films released in quite some time.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars