Monday, July 2, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard


Live Free or Die Hard, the latest entry into the ongoing adventures of New York Police John McClane's efforts to blow things up, wreak havoc on busy intersections, and pump full ammo clips into anonymous henchmen who can't seem to hit their target despite having whole arsenals of automatic weapons, is the guilty pleasure, at least for someone like me who pretends, in most cases, that movies are an art and that I attend such small-intentioned productions. My covers are pulled, because this film was a thorough hoot, a macho fender bender, high on over sized stunts and body count, low on computer animation, with enough scenes of the McClane character getting pounded, thumped on, trampled, dropped, stabbed, shot, cold cocked and so on that you can only conclude that the man does not feel pain, cannot have his bones broken, and will not die until he runs out of wisecracks.This appears to be a running joke through out star Bruce Willis's career; a movie he made for director/writer M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, where his expected everyman persona was cursed with the capability of being virtually indestructible;his bones and his organs recovered almost at once after any trauma one could toss at it. The metaphor extends, conviently,to Willis's film career as a whole, since he's managed to keep working in the movies in leading and supporting roles quite dispite the fact that quite a few of his films have tanked at the box office. The secret is likely to be Willis's likability, and his ability to more or less stay out of scandal and controversy. He hasn't done anything so indulgent and repulsive as to dissuade film goers from paying ten dollars to see his films. Also, I suspect, his films are most likely good long term revenue generators in secondary and tertiary markets; Willis and his producers understand this, and it keeps the scripts coming and the cameras rolling. Lindsay Lohan, are you listening?


Unbreakable, though, was indestructible and collapsed , dreadfully so, under Shymalan's trudging seriousness and glacial pasting, due, mostly , to the dual scourges of lacking a sense of humor and working his way up to the surprise ending that less amazing than it was inevitable. Live Free or Die Hard, in contrast, is quips, crashes, stunts, fire fights, a constant race against time as McClane bashes, bullies and beats his way to the center of a techno villian's plan to crash America's computer grid. Rest assured, there is some quality dispatching of bad guys here, as well as the constant wonder of the lead character's capacity to absorb pain.

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