Mean-spirited dweeb Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) has it all planned out. In the early scenes of Live Free or Die Hard, Gabriel uses a team of hackers to cause havoc: He messes with traffic lights, causing transportation chaos. He deactivates everyone's power and phone lines. And eventually, he'll destroy the economy, stealing a few billion dollars in the process. But Gabriel doesn't anticipate one thing: Badass cop John McClane (Bruce Willis), who, over the course of three Die Hards, has killed roughly 70 million terrorists—all of whom were way more threatening than a bunch of computer nerds.
The good news about Live Free or Die Hard: Despite being the oldest person in the cast by about 20 years, BRUCE WILLIS IS STILL AWESOME. Here, Willis has some great action sequences and a few killer jokes—at his best, he makes this entry as fun as the previous three. But now for the not-so-good news: Live Free or Die Hard, with its PG-13 rating and light, funny tone, isn't nearly as intense or cool as the series' earlier, better movies.
Aside from 20th Century Fox's annoying financial decision to make the film a kid-friendly PG-13, the blame for Live Free or Die Hard's goofiness can be laid at the feet of director Len Wiseman, who also helmed the silly vampire vs. werewolf Underworld flicks. Sure, the previous Die Hards were hardly paragons of realism, but Wiseman takes the preposterousness to a whole other level: This time around, McClane fights a kung fu master and goes mano a mano with a fighter jet. (And, sadly, yes— McClane's classic catchphrase has been significantly neutered.)
That said, Live Free or Die Hard still manages to be a lot of fun, with plenty of stunts, explosions, and comedic bickering between McClane and his newfound sidekick, hacker Matt Farrell. (Farrell is played by Justin Long, who's most famous for the Apple ads in which he plays a Mac to John Hodgman's PC. Here, Long's great—if you can shake the nagging suspicion that Bill Gates, or at least Hodgman, will be revealed to be the film's true terrorist mastermind.)
Throw in McClane's super-hot daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a Kevin Smith cameo, and the sort of blockbuster logic where it makes perfect sense for a speeding car to launch into a low-flying helicopter, and you've got a fun, slick action flick. Snickering throughout, McClane—still kicking ass—doesn't seem to mind that this time around, the bad guys seem to bleed and swear a whole lot less.