Live Free Die Hard

20th Century Fox

Review in a Hurry:  John McClane cowboys up again, this time to stop a terrorist who's apparently read too many Tom Clancy novels. Since he's dealing with cyber-terrorism, Bruce Willis' cop needs help from the I'm-a-Mac guy (Justin Long). And since it's a Die Hard movie, there are still plenty of warm bodies for McClane to shoot.

The Bigger Picture:  Like Willis, this franchise is obviously aging, and like Willis, it's doing so with an oddly brutish grace. Live Free or Die Hard is an amusingly imperfect action flick, clumsy when standing still but gloriously deft and assured when in full motion.

The plot centers on a well-organized, nebulous group of terrorists looking to bring America to its knees, mostly, like, because they can. Having quickly disabled the FBI, they naturally run afoul of a single NYPD detective (and his fresh-faced hacker sidekick) with the necessary badassery and gumption to spoil their meticulously laid, nation-wrecking plan and—hey, isn't it about time for another helicopter to explode? That'll stop us thinking about where half the villains went for no apparent reason!

This Die Hard pretty much delivers what it promises: nearly an hour of impressively bone-crunching stunts, fights and chases, capable baddies in the form of Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) and Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III), and some funny back-and-forth between Willis and Long.

All this would make for a tight, enjoyable time, but for several interminable scenes of guys both good and bad making momentous things happen with magical keyboards, which no amount of high-tech mood lighting and plasma TVs can render exciting. These diversions do their best to turn the movie into a tepid mess, but ultimately, they can't keep the good cop down.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  For a movie featuring a surprisingly plausible brawl between a fighter jet and a semi (take that, Transformers!), smaller technical goofs blow their cover. Like the several occasions in which actors' looped lines aren't remotely in synch with their lips.

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