Okay, Samuel L. Jackson being cast as the part of Zeus Carver in Die Hard with a Vengeance could arguably be the best choice any movie studio ever made. I am not even going to attempt to counter argue that fact with Justin Long. (Although Justin did do a surprisingly solid job.) But, the chemistry that Sam and Bruce have in Die Hard 3 and the nit picky argument that we don't get to hear people cuss or because people hate Len Wiseman just because he happens to be the luckiest husband in Hollywood, just isn't enough for me to say that Live Free or Die Hard is the weakest link in the Die Hard series.
Let me first state again that both Die Hard and Bruce Willis are two of my favorite topics when discussing movies. For the record, I love every one of the Die Hard films. The grade that seperates each of them is very small for me. I don't think that it is possible to argue the fact that the first one is the undisputed best of the series, considering that it may even be The Godfather of the action genre. I can't particularly say that I think that 4 is necessarily better than 2. I think it would just depend on my mood at the time. But in my opinion, a huge argument could be made in the defense of Live Free being a better action film than Vengeance, dispite the neutered rating. I will try to point out a few reasons to defend my opinion.
1. Bruce - I have heard many people claim that Bruce's performance in 4 could have been phoned in and he was only in it for the money. I don't think that enough people stop to judge an actor based on their abilities versus the director's guidance. Obviously John Mctiernan has more experience under his belt when it comes to directing a performance as well as filming explosions and the such. This is not to throw Wiseman under the bus by any means. I still believe he did an adequate job all-in-all. But still, I don't really see the lack of performance on Bruce's part in 4. He still portrays John Mcclane spot on imo. I feel that Bruce made a conscious choice to portray Mcclane at a different stage of his life in each of the four films. In the first he is the timid flat foot who is a little cocky and a bit of a jerk who likes to think that he's tough in the beginning. It's not until he realizes that it could truly all end at any moment that he releases the badass from within in a desperate situation. In the second he is a little more confident of a cop. But there is also a softer side to him now, because he is a happy husband and father. When all of that is threatened to be taken away from him, old habits die hard (get it?) and the badass returns. By 3 the cocky jerk has come full circle except now he has learned to be that badass at all times and he is a bitter lonely guy on top of it all. Finally by the fourth one, he is just the same guy that we knew from the third, only now he is way to comfortable in his skin. He is fine with being bitter and a loner. He realizes that he is not a "people person" and he is fine with that. He still loves his wife and kids. But, he even realizes that he can't even get along with them. I think this may be one reason why some people can't except his performance in this film. There is never a moment when Mcclane feels fear. He has gone from the "every man" in the first film, to the "super man" in the fourth. Does it take away from the feel of danger some? Yes. But, it doesn't change the fact that it's still great action! Which, brings me to my next topic.
2. The action - The jet scene in Live Free is on the top of everyone's list as far as "too ridiculous for Die Hard". Let's look at this logically shall we?
-Die Hard: Jumping off the top of a skyscraper with a waterhose wrapped around your waist. (Unbelievable scale = 6 out of 10)
-Die Harder: Ejecting out of an exploding plane and hand to hand combat on the wing of a plane. (Ubelievable scale = 7 out of 10)
-Die Hard with a Vengeance:A car driving through a barrier and off the side of an overpass, to land on the road beneath. A dumptruck making a complete 180 turn with the jerk of a wheel only then to be "surfed on" by the driver. Falling atleast 5 stories onto their backs from the bridge to the deck of the boat after falling from the cable. (Unbelievavle scale = 10 out of 10) I think you are seeing my point here.
3. The rating - The cursing: My humble opinion... so? John Mcclane IS from Jersey. So, is it so unbelievable to think that he might call a bad guy a "jerk off"? Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the big deal other than it to just be a reason to hate on a film. The blood: Go back and watch the first three and explain to me how any human could have survived with all of the blood that it appears that Mcclane looses. By being PG-13 it curbed the desire to want to drench our hero in ridiculous amounts of blood. As far as the general violence goes, I still stand by my opinion that this movie truly surprised me at the amount that it got away with for a PG-13 film.
I could go on. But even if anyone is reading this, I can't change your mind anymore than you can change mine. I am not saying that you have to believe that this film is any better than the first three. I just don't see how people can say that it doesn't belong with the series because of it's rating or because Bruce Willis didn't put back on the ridiculous looking hairpiece that he wore in the third one. Well, look on the bright side. Atleast I wasn't defending Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I will save that for next week. ;)