Live Free or Die Hard

Few movie franchises make it to the fourth installment, and there’s a reason for that. By the fourth one they’ve typically run out of steam. Notable exceptions to this rule are Lethal Weapon 4 and this movie. The original Die Hard (1988) was a seminal movie, defining a genre of wise-cracking, unkillable, near-super-human-cop movies. So it’s surprising to see that, after almost twenty years of imitators, this movie still feels fresh.

This movie goes back to its roots in the original for several humorous references (yet another agent Johnson of the FBI) as well as plot construction. The story is decidedly contemporary (dealing with terrorism and making plenty of references to DHS) so it’s quite interesting that there are so many parallels between it and the original — terrorists, hackers and the FBI all figure prominently in both films.

Speaking of hackers, as I predicted, Justin Long is still turning out great performances. He seems uniquely qualified to play the geek who is still cool and engaging (although I don’t think he comes anywhere near a Mac in this film). And the venerable Kevin Smith turns in a stellar cameo as the Hacker King.

Despite some remarkable battles with plausibility (the whole scene with the F-35 comes to mind), this is a great movie. Full of all the thrills and one-liners of previous installments, and Bruce Willis is still delivering the goods after almost twenty years.

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