Friday, June 29, 2007

Die Harder Than You’ve Ever Died Before

Stacy and I caught an early showing of the new Bruce Willis movie, Live Free or Die Hard yesterday. For those of you woefully uninformed, this fourth installment of the Die Hard franchise, like the other three, features wisecracking New York Detective John McClane fighting terrorists. John McClane is one of those sorts that is always in the wrong place at the right time; since he always manages to be in a position to foil the terrorists in one way or another before anyone else can or will. John is not in any sort of anti-terrorist or quick response unit. He’s just this normal guy that can’t get a break. I think that is one of the appeals of the Die Hard movies. Willis has got the everyman character down to a science. We want to believe that we would do what John McClane does if given the opportunity.

Enough about the franchise, how was the movie? Let me get what I don’t like about the movie out of the way first. Semi-spoilerish details follow.

The Bad:

  • The terrorists use computers to take control of all traffic signaling in major US cities, all from one central location. There is no such thing. No central location controls every traffic signal in New York, DC, Chicago, LA, etc. Taking over such systems simultaneously would take much more manpower than the terrorist had and much more coordination.
  • The terrorists trigger “Anthrax alarms” in every government building in DC at the same time. While this may be more plausible than the traffic control, it is not very likely.
  • The terrorists take control of every broadcast, cable, and satellite television channel as well as EVERY networked computer to broadcast their videos to the public. WTF? Why does Hollywood always get this stuff wrong? Let’s assume that it was possible to control the television signals from three disparate sources as if there is a central location to control those. I know, not bloody likely, but let’s assume that for a moment. Where would they get the power and capability to broadcast their video to every networked computer, full screen? Computers just don’t work that way. The terrorists would have to pipe their signal to every computer, which is crazy to think of considering the varying types of networks out there and all the different safety and security components they would have to bypass on myriad systems. They would then have to trigger an automatic upload that simultaneously started every video player on every computer at the same time and played their synchronized message. Nuh uh. It could be conceivable if they used a virus to gain access, but the time it would take to propagate to every machine would allow it to be found by countless people that are paid to watch for such activity. Nope, it’s too much.
  • In addition to all of this crazy-ass control the terrorist wield, they also have access to military secrets such as Air Force “go codes” and the ability to hijack a military jet to do their bidding. I’m ignoring how badass it was to watch John McClane versus a Harrier Jet for now and calling BS on the terrorists.
  • The Mac (more on him later) constantly complains that, “the satellites must be down” when his cell phone won’t get signal. Who at this point has not heard of a cell phone tower? Cell phones don’t use satellites, they use towers to connect. Satellite phones use satellites, and they did not have those. If the power is completely out in a given area, it’s a good bet that the cell phone tower is out as well, which is a much more likely reason you are not getting cell signal. The Mac, being a consummate hacker, even able to do so with said cell phone, would be intimately familiar with how one works. I’m willing to bet the majority of the audience at least knows about cell towers. Why insult our intelligence?
  • The terrorists perform all of their acts from a single, albeit mobile, location and no one figures out how to track them. We must accept that the anti-terrorism cyber unit or whatever they’re called in Homeland Security are completely unable to track these signals controlling so many disparate centralized systems to a single location? Come on!
Okay, as much as those little points irked me, they were all secondary to getting John McClane from point A to point yippee-ki-ay, mother trucker. That’s what Die Hard is all about, after all. So, even though the plot devices sucked to high heaven, the rest of the movie was cool as hell.

The Good:

  • Bruce Willis naturally hits McClane out of the park. Ever since Moonlighting, Willis has proved that he knows how to play the wisecracking detective occasionally out of his depth.
  • The hacker geek sidekick, played by The Mac was actually pretty entertaining. Not too surprising considering the other things I’ve seen him in.
  • Timothy Olyphant, who I didn’t recognize even though I have seen him in a project or two, plays the villain. He actually does a pretty decent job.
  • His hot second-in-command was played by Maggie Q of recent Mission: Impossible 3 fame. There’s nothing like a little hot ninja kickass action.
  • Kevin Smith played the enigmatic Warlock. Okay, he’s not enigmatic, you just think that until you see him, then he’s just the shlub that’s portraying the stereotypical hacker nerd, but he does a good job there!
  • Surprisingly, I enjoyed Cliff Curtis as the hardass in charge of figuring out what the hell is going on. Not surprising because I don’t like Curtis or anything. Honestly, he wasn’t familiar at all. Surprising because I usually don’t care about such secondary roles, but he performed well and his character’s decisions made sense. It’s just too bad his entire operation was inept.
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead played McClane’s estranged daughter Lucy. She channeled her inner Willis and was as tough as John. I really enjoyed her scenes in the movie.
  • The action, holy crap was the action good. I don’t think I have ever seen that many car chases, explosions, gun fights, fist fights, helicopter versus car fights, jet versus man fights, apocalyptic end-of-the-world action in one place.
  • Locations. While this movie doesn’t have any exotic locations like the Bond series, but it didn’t stay in one place for too long. I enjoyed watching Willis and The Mac playing catch up with the bad guys at various locations until the culminating scenes towards the end. And when all hope seems lost, yippee-ki-ay, mother-

If you dig action movies, then this is your first stop this summer.

I give Live Free, Die Hard four out of five explosions on a scale I just made up that doesn’t mean anything.

Oh, and in case you haven't caught it yet, here's a kickass tribute to John McClane by a group called Guyz Night. Language definitely NSFW!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Will Ferrelly Goodness

That darn Pearl is back. This time she's out for Ferrell's blood! Check out the latest, and sadly last, of Pearl's appearances in Ferrell's "Good Cop, Baby Cop". Thanks for the drop,!