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PCR # 379  (Vol. 8, No. 26)  This edition is for the week of June 25--July 1, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Live Free or Die Hard"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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20th Century Fox     
Starring: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long and Kevin Smith
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Rated:PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 8 mins

As you may have guessed by now, as a film critic I see the films I review before they open. Sometimes it's a day or two, sometimes it's a month or more. After each screening the critics huddle around the film company representative and offer exciting quotes that the rep can report to the studios. Not only does this give them an idea of how the reviews will go, it often gives them something juicy to use in their advertising campaign. I'm proud to say that if you go into the neighborhood Blockbuster you can find a DVD or two with my name and witty saying on the back, hopefully enticing you into renting said DVD. However, don't look for my first thought in any ads for the new "Die Hard" film: Willis-riffic.

The fourth chapter in the saga of John McClane (Willis) begins with a group of computer nerds helping what they think is a fellow hacker figure out some security codes. One of the keyboarders is Matt Farrell (Long) who, with his action figure strewn apartment and penchant for gulping down Red Bulls, is the textbook version of geek. Unbeknownst to Matt and the rest is that the codes they are creating will soon be used to basically shut down the country. Over the fourth of July. Not very patriotic.

It's been over a decade since John McClane last graced movie screens and the time has only made him more of a loner. Now divorced he tries to devote time to his children, only to learn that older daughter Lucy (played with the proper amount of McClane spunk by "Grindhouse" girl Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has told her friends that her father is dead. Once the nation's computers start going haywire, McClane is asked to track down a well known hacker who lives near the college Lucy attends. Once he picks up Matt, amid a hail of bullets I should add, the action begins and doesn't let up until the final credits.

Director Wiseman, who created the "Underworld" film series (with a third "Underworld" film on the way), has obviously done his homework on how to make an action film. Be it by car, helicopter, jet fighter or semi, Wiseman proves himself a master of on-screen excitement. This is helped in part by the fact that there is very little CGI used here. When McClane makes a car go up an embankment and crash into a helicopter, the car GOES UP AN EMBANKMENT AND CRASHES INTO A HELICOPTER! Quite impressive. The cast is equally impressive, with Long graduating from small parts in such films as "Dodgeball" and "Waiting" to co-star status with ease. Olyphant, last seen in "Deadwood," is a fine bad guy, building on the reputations of former McClane adversaries Alan Rickman, William Sadler and Jeremy Irons. Kevin Smith is very good as a fellow hacker friend of Matt's, and delivers some great lines as the film's comic relief. But it is Willis that keeps the film going. In 1988, the industry newspapers reacted humorously to the fact that 20th Century Fox had paid TV star Bruce Willis $5 million to star in a little action film known as "Die Hard." Almost 20 years later, the laughter has long since ended. Willis, like Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs in the "Lethal Weapon" films, has grown with the character. Always a master of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mc Clane does his job because he knows it's what is expected of him. People would not settle for anything less and neither would McClane. As the film progresses and John has to rely on only himself, Willis manages to get the audience on his side and keep them there. It truly is "Willis-rific!"

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Live Free or Die Hard"  Three stars.

This week's movie review of "Live Free or Die Hard" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.