Live Free or Die Hard & r & & r & by BEN KROMER & r & & r & In the 1980s and early '90s, action movies had heroes. And these heroes didn't just do one movie and quit; they stuck with it and made sequels. Yet the era of the action hero has passed. Some might say it's a good thing, since so many of those movies were awful, and Asians have made the fighting antics of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal look pathetic
But before dismissing the golden age of the Uzi, we should look at what we have now, because action movies will never go away. They'll just change. Back then, action-film marketing was centered around the star; now it's centered around the license and special effects. Back then, we had Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris, and even Van Damme and Seagal. Now we have Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Back then action films were invariably rated R; now half of them are PG-13.
Which brings us to Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth John McClane (Bruce Willis) film, and the first to be released with a PG-13 rating. I was ready to write a withering review of Live Free on the basis of the producers being such unbelievable sissies, but the movie won me over.
I'm old, and I separate young people into two groups: "punks" and "snots." I don't like either one, so the "father knows best" theme running through LFoDH appeals to my advanced age. First, McClane is estranged from his 20-something daughter. Second, the plot is driven by McClane's attempts to protect a targeted hacker (Justin Long). In the traditionally dreadful smart-ass sidekick role, Long isn't at all bad. He starts out as a crybaby Chomsky reader but -- after several hours of being in close proximity to Bruce Willis -- learns the value of being a badass.
Even the villain, an evil hacker, appeals to curmudgeons frightened by computers. All this plus the requisite machine guns, punching, kicking, jet planes, and explosions that I expect, nay demand, from a Die Hard. The only thing I missed was the F-word.