Saturday, August 04, 2007

Blow Up Everything!

My brother and I went to Live Free or Die Hard this afternoon. It's a throwback to the unselfconscious action epics of the eighties, similar to the first two "Die Hard" movies but with a little bit of vintage Schwarzenegger added to the mix. Bruce Willis reprises his roll as the detective John McClane, a man whose two talents are being in the wrong place at the wrong time and surviving impossible situation after impossible situation. While he does have shoes throughout this movie, by the end he's satisfyingly bloodied and the collateral damage is in the billions.

The main theme of the movie is vehicles colliding with other vehicles and exploding. We're also treated to some impressive ground/air chases, more explosions, rampant use of C4, and some French mercenaries who must have been left in the DC area by Cirque du Soleil. The bad guys raise the bar again, with bigger goals than in the previous movies. McClane, however, is the same anti-hero whose bad luck puts him alone in the position to save the day. He shouts, punches, bumbles, and somehow survives his way through over two hours of impossible situations and finally defeats the bad guy in a way only he can.

While stylistically, the movie is a throwback, the action sequences, vehicular and otherwise, show definite influences from Asian cinema and the "Transporter" movies. The chases bring balletic action to vehicles of several types and sizes, and the camera work is awesome. The camera itself darts around the action like a bird surfing the pressure wave in front of a car. Since this is a contemporary movie, I'm sure there's some CG. But it's not recognizable as such. There's also no obvious wire work, and while Zach had some quibbles with one of the sequences at the end, I didn't find that anything in the movie really forced me out of the suspension of disbelief.

The first Die Hard made some effort to appeal to a mature audience. The next two acknowledged the franchise as a guy movie, and this one has the same purity. It's full of "high five" moments. There's minimal character development, relationships are simple, bad guys get killed, and stuff blows up. A lot.

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