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      Die Hard 4.0 Review

      Die Hard 4.0 poster

      Die Hard 4.0

      Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune

      Detective John McClane is back. This time, he's not fighting a bunch of bad guys who've taken over an airport or a high-rise during an office Christmas party. This time, he's fighting a bunch of bad guys who've hacked into a whole lot of really important computers. With information on them.

      That's right: This time, it's impersonal.

      And while cold mazes of hard drives and warrens of blinking lights in "Live Free or Die Hard" may not sound like the obvious settings for summer movie magic, if you're willing to suspend both your disbelief and your requirements for plausible dialogue, you've got yourself a good time. More specifically, you've got yourself a tremendously entertaining, old-fashioned action flick.

      It seems that Detective McClane (Bruce Willis) has not mellowed since we last saw him 12 years ago in "Die Hard With a Vengeance." In fact, he has only gotten grumpier; he fairly oozes contempt for everyone but his college-age daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Unfortunately, she's not too fond of him, in part because he spies on her dates, which is not as creepy as it sounds.

      After one of their blowups, McClane is ordered to escort a young computer hacker named Matt Farrell (Justin Long) into federal custody. This is where things start to unravel for McClane, Farrell and the entire population of Washington, D.C.: A former government agent is using his own computer programs to disrupt the federal grid, wreaking havoc on communications, banking and, most horrifically for any urban dweller, traffic flow.

      Long, perhaps best known as Mac from Apple's ubiquitous television ads, is very funny as a wry, sarcastic computer nerd whose running, panicky commentary ("I skinned my knee," he tells a bloodied McClane, "and I think my asthma is acting up") provides a sympathetic counterweight to Willis' bemused detachment.

      Timothy Olyphant, as evil genius Thomas Gabriel, doesn't do much acting; he mainly spits out his lines through clenched teeth and stares unblinkingly at computer screens. Meanwhile, Winstead (who most recently appeared in "Grindhouse") plays Lucy McClane as a chip off the old block: a tough kid who's not above kicking a few kneecaps.

      When the MPAA, not exactly renowned for its institutional logic, bestowed a PG-13 rating on "Live Free or Die Hard," the blogosphere went ballistic. The first three "Die Hards" wore their R ratings with pride, and fans worried that the less stringent rating meant they would be cheated out of their allowance of choreographed violence and/or effusive profanity. They needn't have worried: The usual pyrotechnics are intact, the corpses pile up and McClane even gets to spit out his signature battle cry.

      Director Len Wiseman's respect for this sacred tradition should satisfy even the die-hardest "Die Hard" fans. Wiseman, whose previous efforts include the two "Underworld" movies, knows how to shoot an edge-of-your-seat action sequence. There are scenes, most notably one involving a jet and an overpass, in which he takes things just one step too far, but generally, Wiseman shows he's more than capable of taking over the "Die Hard" reins. (And yes, according to Willis, there may well be a fifth installment).

      Early in "LFODH," a villain taunts our hero, calling him "a Timex in a digital world"; McClane, characteristically, takes the dig as a compliment. Two hours, countless butt-kickings and hairbreadth escapes later, we know why.

      You see, if there's anything to be learned from this movie, it's that technology is fickle, information is currency and bad people are often quite good with computers. And the only thing that can possibly save you is a crusty demeanor, a profound distrust of technology and the uncanny, possibly superhuman ability to cheat death 867 times in 128 minutes.

      "Live Free Or Die Hard"

      Directed by Len Wiseman; screenplay by Mark Bomback; photographed by Simon Duggan; edited by Nicolas De Toth; music by Marco Beltrami; production design by Patrick Tatopoulos; produced by Michael Fottrell. A Twentieth Century Fox release. Running time: 2:08. MPAA rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation).

      John McClane - Bruce Willis

      Thomas Gabriel - Timothy Olyphant

      Matt Farrell - Justin Long

      Mai Lihn - Maggie Q

      Lucy McClane - Mary Elizabeth Winstead

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