(June 28) I'm going to be honest with you. When I took that fateful stroll into the movie theater to see "Live Free or Die Hard," I knew what I was getting into. I expected a pointless, extravagant action flick that bared zero resemblance to the film franchise I respect and admire.
But it was worse than I expected.
Not only did I get a generic shoot-‘em-up flick that contained none of the heart and fun of the previous "Die Hard" films but I also got an incredibly dumb and unoriginal action film.
It's 2007 and NYPD Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is sporting a hip new look, complete with a shiny bald head that leaves him looking more like Mr. Clean than a down-and-dirty cop.
The plot, shallow and simple like a kiddie pool, goes like this: A techno-mastermind (Timothy Olyphant) engineers a plan to shut down the entire computer and technological infrastructure that supports the United States.
As you may have guessed, it's up to good ole John McClane to take down this ingenious villain with the help of a young computer hacker (played by Justin Long of the now-iconic Mac commercials).
Don't get me wrong. I like the "Die Hard" trilogy, which has reigned supreme at the top of the explosion-packed "movies for guys who like movies" food chain since its last outing in 1995.
I also like Bruce Willis. But lately, he's just getting lazy. He looks the same in every movie, and it seems that he just plays himself in every role. He's got so much money and clout in Hollywood that he can whisper in the ears of his directors and talk them into letting him keep a shaved head. As much as he tried to bring McClane to life in this movie, his performance just doesn't work. I'm about as convinced as an angst-ridden 17-year-old at a magic show.
And you know what? It's not all Willis's fault. Long comes off as a cookie-cutter sidekick with little to offer besides explaining the plot to the audience as the film drags on. Long is a funny guy, sometimes, and he succeeds a few times here. But he's fighting an uphill battle. The dialogue in "Live Free or Die Hard" is just plain bad. Did a fifth-grader come up with these one-liners and snappy comebacks?
Then there's Olyphant, who has even less to offer as a villain. Unlike the villains in the previous "Die Hard" flicks, Olyphant's Thomas Gabriel falls short of being a mastermind and even shorter of being a ruthless one. He mostly just throws computers and talks trash to his enemies via Web cam.
Maybe the movie's only saving grace is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays McClane's daughter Lucy. She brings a little life to an otherwise played-out funeral of a film.
Oh wait, I forgot to mention Kevin Smith. As you may have guessed, his goofy inclusion in this film is pointless and awkward. He plays yet another lame sidekick, complete with bad acting and cheesy dialogue.
As if a shaky plot and bad performances weren't enough to hold this film down, then there's the whole ratings fiasco. The past three installments in the "Die Hard" series have all been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America.
"Live Free or Die Hard" sparked controversy because it was edited to obtain a PG-13 rating. That was, of course, to reach a broader audience and make more money. Corporate greed tramples on the soul of art yet again, not that "Die Hard" is fine art. But c'mon, when you see an action flick, you want explosions, graphic violence, plenty of dirty words and maybe some full frontal nudity, right?
This film had lots of explosions and over-the-top action sequences but zero of the rest. McClane didn't even get to use his catch phrase, "Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf**ker." It's really his only character-defining line, and they deprive him - and the audience - of it. How sad.
All in all, "Live Free or Die Hard" feels like someone sat down, watched the "Die Hard" trilogy and decided to make a Weird Al Yankovic parody of it. It's a popcorn flick that makes no qualms about being bad. If you're into that sort of thing, then by all means go see it.