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diehard_idol.jpgLive Free or Die Hard” is really fun. It’s got action, cast, plot (though sometimes implausible), humor and, well, just more and more action. But what really makes the movie is the authenticity and likeability of Bruce Willis’s John McClane, an ordinary cop who reminds us all of our desire to accomplish great things against great odds–and the fun of making friends as we do it.
Willis has almost always been a likeable actor playing in good guy roles, so much so that his turn as “The Jackal” was hard for his audience to take. But as his classic John McClane he transcends the Willis persona and stands as the character who is the best of Bruce, bringing inspiration with a wink, and comedy with just a dry one-liner. And in each film, he brings the element of a friendship with an unlikely ally, as Justin Long’s Matt Farrell joins Reginald Veljohnson’s Sgt. Al Powell, Dennis Franz’s Capt. Carmine Lorenzo, and Samuel Jackson’s Zeus Carver as the friends in combat.
The fourth film of the series reunites us not only with a friend from the past, but also with an older style of making movies. It’s more authentic with limited computer effects and more close-ups since Willis does a lot of his own stunts. Instead of a movie that tries to hide his age, he takes punches, gets hurt a lot, and usually looks pretty vulnerable. He deals with his adolescent daughter Lucy, who won’t talk to him and who’s changed her name from his (perhaps a nod to the first “Die Hard,” when his wife did the same.) He gets banged up, cut up, and never really looks like he’s gonna make it. Missing from this one was only the accidental nature of McClane showing up at the Nakatomi towers (“Die Hard”) or New York airport (“Die Hard 2: Die Harder”).
McClane isn’t just an everyman cop, but an everyman. There are cops–as well as firefighters, military and many others–still living and working in their own daily dramas into their 50’s, so Willis’s antics at the age of 52 are an encouragement. Like an old friend, John McClane is back.

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