Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Rated: PG-13/Unrated DVD
Grade: ADBC=B+
Budget: $110 million
Box Office: $135 million US, $245 million abroad

Directed by: Len Wiseman, whose only noteworthy prior work was the two Kate Beckinsale Underworld movies. John McTiernan, who made one and three, fell off the map for a few years, and helped produce this one.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Timothy Oliphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Jonathan Sadowski, and Kevin Smith of all people.

The former overseer of America’s cyber-terrorism division warned the government we were vulnerable, and they fired him. Now he’s back, orchestrating a massive attack on communications, traffic, financial institutions, and energy in an effort to make off with lots and lots and lots and lots of money. John McClain, our hero, finds himself unluckily mired in the middle of it all by being the guy sent to collar a teenage hacker who unwittingly helped this all to happen.

Entertainment Value: A
You just can’t miss on a Die Hard movie, even when they change directors and revive Bruce Willis after a 12 year waiting period. Every Die Hard gets bigger and badder, and this one certainly fits that description. Other than a handful of truly implausible plot elements, this is just what fans of the first three movies would have wanted: the reluctant and bitter uber-tough-guy cop killing villains in all sorts of creative ways as fast as he can.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence F, Language D, Illegality D
I must alert you that my ratings apply to the unrated DVD version, not the PG-13 version, which I’m sure was much tamer, especially in regards to language. The version I watched, however, was full of F-profanity and other cursing. I can’t imagine how the movie wouldn’t be an F for violence, even when PG-13-ized. Many car crashes, people being shot, beaten severely, and killed in innovative ways. I have no idea how kids-in-mind only gave it a 6 for violence. The illegality is both the cyber-attack as well as some of the things McClain does to save the day. I’m surprised this wasn’t rated R both because of the content and because that’s what the previous three had been rated…correctly.

Significant Content: B
There’s one real lesson here: heroes usually don’t seek to be such, they just happen to be the ones who stand up when there’s a need. Other messages have to do with U.S. vulnerability to cyber-terrorism, unwillingness of the government to do what’s necessary to protect against it, and the power of anger and pride to make people do awful things for revenge.
Artistic/Thought Value: C Despite the many questions below, this movie isn’t really much of a thinker…der. So as far as art value goes, it’s mostly just a shoot-em-up killing romp with some fairly forgivable realism problems.

Discussion Questions:
~This movie contains many stereotypes. Which ones can you identify? What do you think of female villain in the movie? Is it good for women to be portrayed this way and for them to be assaulted this way?
~Gabriel claims that it’s better for someone who loves the country to do this to it than someone who actually seeks to destroy it. Do you think it matters? Do you think this justifies what he has done? Is it possible someone might see him as a hero for trying to make a point that needs making?
~How realistic do you think the major plot elements in this movie are?
~Why do you think this movie was rated PG-13? Is this level of violence good when presented as a solution to a problem? Where do you draw the line between necessary violence and indulgent violence?
~What is a hero? Who is more of a hero here: McClain or Farrell? Does McClain’s incompetence as a husband and a father matter to you? How important are restraint and self-control for heroes? Is there any element of Jesus in any of these heroes?
~If everything that was attacked in this movie did collapse, what do you think would happen to this country?
~In what way would you describe this movie as a Western?
Overall Grade: B+
It’s pretty impressive to continually make such solid movies on the same theme, and I understand there’s two more still to come.

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