Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.


John McClane is back, and he's . . . old.

Bruce Willis' Det. John McClane begins Live Free or Die Hard by busting a frat boy who's been trying to cop a feel off his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Oh, Dad!

Since much of the ol' action hero's aging core audience has presumably moved on since McClane's last adventure, the main duty this time is to serve and protect the kids. Can we get Kevin Smith to play a "digital Jedi," joysticking for freedom in his mom's basement? Can we say Yippee-ki-yay, muthafucka and still get a PG-13?

Yes, there's a terrorist scheme in the fourth Die Hard. It concerns a spurned patriot's bid to expose the weakness of our hackable homeland security. Better that he bring Armageddon, this white American says, than "some religious nutjob." But the real intrigue has to do with whether McClane -- "a Timex watch in a digital age," according to the lead baddie (Timothy Olyphant) -- can log into 2007.

Maybe McClane, in '80s-action parlance, is too old for this shit. But this time, he's blessed with youth in tow: a twentyish hacker who helped the villains get a virtual leg up before offering his services to McClane in trade for protection. So as the bad guys (including a Demi-esque Maggie Q) plot a nationwide blackout by computer, the digitally challenged McClane mans the old reliables -- pistol, CB radio, various motor vehicles, and what's left of his wit(s) -- while the kid (Mac pitchman Justin Long) does the code-breaking. Would you believe these two don't get along at first? Alas, generational conflict here is reduced to a high-speed feud over the merits of Creedence Clearwater Revival: Driving the getaway car, McClane blasts "Fortunate Son," prompting the kid to declare, "This is like having a pinecone shoved up my ass." (Hello, PG-13!)

Clearly we're far from the original Die Hard (1988), an action flick recently chosen as the best of all time by Entertainment Weekly. Where the first three Die Hards are full-on disaster movies, with towering infernos, crashed airplanes, and Manhattan on red alert, the threat in the post-9/11 installment is virtual. The villains' craftiest trick is hijacking our cable news networks -- tweaking the ticker ("What if you dial 911, and no one answers?") and communicating through split-second snippets of presidential addresses, from Ike through Dubya. And Maggie Q's particular menace can be put down with another PG-13 quip (she's a "little Asian chick, likes to kick people").

The trickiest challenge in Live Free, it turns out, is a familiar one to our listless hero: getting Lucy, like Mom in '88, to go by the last name of McClane. Whatever she decides, Dad is really going to have to live freer or die harder next time.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Latest in Screens

More by Rob Nelson

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Rocky Horror Picture Show @ The Kent Stage

    • Fri., Feb. 18
  • Casablanca 80th Anniversary Presented By TCM (Film)

    • Sun., Jan. 23 and Wed., Jan. 26
  • 19th Annual Standing Rock International Shorts Festival @ The Kent Stage

    • Sat., March 5

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation