With A Good Day To Die Hard coming to theaters this week, we've got John McClane on the brain, and obviously any conversation about Die Hard inevitably leads to list-making. But it seems completely pointless to argue over the best Die Hard movie, since, duh, that's Die Hard. But the second-best? That's definitely up for debate. You've read Sean's argument for Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Eric's defense of Die Hard With A Vengeance. Now, here's Mack with Live Free Or Die Hard
Over the last two days, you’ve heard two of my colleagues dither on about how either Die Harder or Die Hard With A Vengeance is within a whisper of being as brilliant and loveable as the original Die Hard. With all due respect to my fellow writers, those opinions are at best, laughably optimistic and at worst, absolute bullshit. No Die Hard sequel comes close to matching the quality of the original: not 2, not 3 and not 4. They’re all failures in comparison. So, instead of analyzing which movie is best able to rub together Hans Grubers’ shattered fingers to create tiny sparks, we should be analyzing which of the sequels is actually (somewhat) enjoyable to watch, and the only clear answer to that question is Live Free Or Die Hard.
First, the bad. Yes, it stupidly runs a car into a helicopter. Yes, it turns its aging protagonist into a superhero on a few occasions. And most depressingly of all, yes, its PG-13 rating neuters John McClane’s ability to hurl Yippee Kai Yay, Motherfucker(s) at his opponents. These are all huge problems. Years later, they still piss me off, but the basic premise of the film is actually a good idea. McClane is very much an old school cop. He frequently crosses the line with suspects, and while he thinks pretty quickly on his feet, he’s not exactly a genius. He’s of a dying breed. He prefers brute strength, and in Live Free Or Die Hard, he’s forced to prove that brute strength is still valuable in an age where villains can divert traffic and shut down power grids by punching a keyboard. Spoiler alert: it is. A man with a good right cross will always be valuable.
The introduction of McClane’s daughter, Lucy, is also the right decision. Her father might be a perpetually unhappy, self-loathing asshole who can’t maintain a relationship, but his daughter, whether she’s going by Gennero or McClane, gives him a woman he’ll always be able to fight for. Plus, she’s a bit of a spitfire who is capable of helping out in a more practical way than just heightening John’s crazed frenzy to save the day. She’s a true McClane, and she’s a valuable addition to the franchise.
I won’t say the same about Justin Long’s computer hacker Matt Farrell. If I never see more of him, I’m fine with that, but in this movie, he actually serves a clear purpose. His scenes, especially with Kevin Smith’s Warlock, are a very good way to break up the pacing, and he’s a nice contrast to McClane’s straight ahead aggression. He forces our hero to hurry up and wait, as he shuttles him to various locations and then must do what he can to hold the position while Farrell works his complicated computer magic.
Is Live Free Or Die Hard a great movie? No. Is it a very good movie? No. Is it a pretty good movie? I would say it is, and considering Die Harder is a shitty retread of the original movie (which didn’t work for The Hangover 2 either) and Die Hard With A Vengeance is basically an idiotic scavenger hunt, that pretty good-ness is more than enough to make the fourth outing the Die Hard franchise’s second best.
Agree? Disagree? Read more of our Die Hard Debates right HERE!
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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