Live Free Or Die Hard

Live Free Or Die Hard (2007)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant
Extras: Commentary Track, Game, Documentary, Featurettes, Interview, Music Video, Theatrical Trailer

"Live Free Die Hard", the long awaited fourth installment in the series that made Bruce Willis a household name, was directed by Len Wiseman, whose previous directing efforts include "Underworld" and the more recent "Underworld: Evolution". I found it interesting that the studio decided to rejuvenated the series, to be honest. Being a fan of all of the previous three films, it was always one of my favorite box sets on DVD, it was with great pleasure that I opened the new Blu-ray version of the film from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It has been more than ten years since the last film and much has happened in the world, and some of it seems as unlikely as the plots from the previous "Die Hard" films. John McClane is back, and the world needs a hero.

The film begins by introducing the main villain, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant, the sheriff from "Deadwood"), who has put to work some of the best hackers to unknowingly help him create technological chaos and cause terrorist mayhem in the United States using computers. The problem is that when they have finished their work he is blowing them up one by one, and his project of terrorism has entered its final phases.

One of the hackers, Matt Farrell (Justin Long) is just seconds away from sealing his fate when John McClane, fresh from interfering with his estranged daughter Lucy's (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) date, knocks on his door. He has been instructed to escort the young man to be interviewed by the FBI after the command center security system was shut down for a moment. John McClane is having personal problems again, and that's always what made him such a hero to cheer for. We could all relate to his imperfections, and he's having another bad day.

After he enters Farrell's apartment, it is amusing to see how out of touch he is with all of the latest technology, and it also adds a touch of realism once again to his character, he is a hero from another time, when things were simpler. But after an explosion doesn't go off as planned and they are attacked by gunmen trying to take out Farrell, McClane realizes quickly that this will be no walk in the park.

This first action scene is as explosive as it gets, and it's very entertaining to watch McClane teach a kid maneuvers he had previously only witnessed in a video game.

After narrowly escaping, their whereabouts are tracked by Gabriel via cell phone tracking. This villain has a command center that now controls not only the telecommunications system but also controls the television stations. After creating complete chaos on the streets manipulating the traffic lights, Gabriel eventually has McClane and Farrell in his sights, but he obviously doesn't know who he is dealing with, because McClane takes the pursuing helicopter on the chase of a lifetime and eventually into a darkened tunnel, where they escape in a very highly charged and amazing sequence.

Gabriel has also terrorized the entire world by showing very realistic footage of the US Capital building being blown up, although it doesn't actually happen, this scene is very effective and seriously intense. Gabriel has got to be one of the most dangerous bad guys in recent memory, and unlike other villains in these types of films, his menace is very real and we can almost see something like this take place. We also have his female companion, Mai (Maggie Q), who is just as dangerous but is sent out on ground missions, eventually meeting face to face with McClane himself after the abduction of his daughter. We even have a very funny small role played by Kevin Smith as a geek who lives in his mother's basement that is simply hilarious.

This action film really delivers in every way possible. The scenes are thrilling and when the action starts it just never lets up, it also retains all of the charm and wit of its predecessors and is quite simply a thrill ride you don't want to miss. Truly, it is an adrenaline fueled thrill ride that will deliver on all of your expectations and then some. In fact, it is one of my favorites of the entire series and its added relevance in a post 9/11 world really brings it all home like a "Die Hard" film never could before. So, suspend your disbelief, grab some popcorn and get ready for one of the best action films in years. John McClane is back. It's a shame we didn't get the unrated version on this disc, in fact it's a little surprising, but I'm certainly thrilled with the theatrical cut, that's for sure.

And the transfer really sparkles, as I fully expected since the original films looked so great on the two-disc editions from the Five Star Collection. And they were always so popular among DVD collectors. Many times this 1080p 50 GB MPEG-4 transfer looks fantastic and utterly three-dimensional. Presented with an aspect ratio of 2.4:1, we have black levels that are clearly on the mark. Even during the dark scenes like the beginning gunfight at Farrell's apartment, all of the objects and people are easy to differentiate. The level of detail noticed with background objects is also crystal clear, making fine use of the high definition format at all times. This is one of those discs you will definitely want to throw in as a demo disc when the friends drop by, because the many thrilling action scenes are handled very well also, and I noticed very little edge enhancement. This is one of the better high def titles on the market and you'll be very impressed.

The audio is just as impressive, presented DTS-HD Master Lossless Audio. What we have here is a film filled with explosions and gunfire and helicopters and all sorts of car crashes, so you have to imagine that what we have is a film that will wake your neighbors up and keep them awake. But aside from all of the amazing and incredibly action-packed sound effects that fill all of the speakers including the subwoofer, the dialogue comes through crystal clear and there are several stand out moments you will actually rewind just to hear again. The score by Marco Beltrami also sounds great and really adds to the overall experience.

The special features are pretty entertaining also, although all are presented in standard definition except the movie trailers. And one of the standouts is the commentary; it features Bruce Willis, Len Wiseman and editor Nicholas de Toth, and is very lively and entertaining and covers every aspect of production but really leaves you wanting to see the unrated version pretty badly.

The Documentary "Analog Cop In A Digital World" runs 97 minutes and is about as in depth as you could possibly want. In fact, this is really an indispensable documentary and is really the only feature necessary, it covers production, editing stunts and everything we all love about making movies and it doesn't speed through the topics either. One of the better documentaries I've seen recently, it actually makes you want to watch the entire film over again.

"Yippie Ki-Yay Mother******" is basically an interview with Willis from Kevin Smith that runs about 24 minutes. I thought this feature would be a little more vulgar and entertaining, but really Smith is just a huge fan. I get a kick just seeing the two together in the same film, even if it did seem odd at first.

"Fox Movie Channel Presents: Fox Legacy" runs six minutes and is typical promotional fluff.

Also on board is a music video by Guyz Nite and the making of the music video.

I am very happy that we get the trailers in 1080p high definition, we have trailers for all four "Die Hard" films, so it will make you want to watch them all over again. We also have trailers for "The Simpsons Movie", "The Siege" and "Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer".

So, what we end up with is an explosive and thrill-filled film that absolutely took me by surprise. Well made and thoroughly excellent on every level, this is an action film you won't soon forget and it looks and sounds brilliant on this wonderful Blu-ray. The special features are vast and highly entertaining, and this is one of those discs you will want to show off so I highly recommend picking it up. Probably you'll want all of the films together actually, hopefully the others look half as good as this excellent presentation, Fox has done a great job rejuvenating the franchise.