Although Live Free or Die Hard is known internationally as Die Hard 4.0, the truth is that Die Hard was never really a bona fide series. As with Raiders of the Lost Ark, there was just one really great movie, followed by a host of imitators, a couple of which happened to involve some of the same characters and filmmakers. Temple of Doom and Last Crusade were just Indiana Jones flicks; there's only one Raiders.
In a similar way, call them whatever you want, the further adventures of John McClane pale beside the original no less than the Try-Hard and Fly-Hard adventures of Steven Seagal, Wesley Snipes and Keanu Reeves. (Well, okay, Speed actually holds up pretty well.)
What made the original Die Hard such a unique film wasn't one thing, but a perfect storm of factors. The insidious, disciplined invading force; the claustrophobic confinement; the emotional as well as physical punishment suffered by the panicky, hesitating, self-reproaching hero, so different from the impassive he-man heroes of earlier eras. The wounded emotional distance and dangerous secret solidarity between John and his estranged wife. The clever conceits of John's increasingly desperate gambits for survival. And, of course, the electrifying anonymous confrontation via walkie-talkie between John and his opponent Hans, a battle of wits and nerves.
Along with a host of other recent and coming "sequels" to 1980s–era franchises coming anywhere from a dozen to nearly twenty years after their most recent predecessors—including Terminator 3, Rocky Balboa, an Indiana Jones sequel shooting now, and of course the Star Wars prequels—Live Free or Die Hard feels not so much like the continuation of a franchise as a revisiting of a historic institution, ...1
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Live Free or Die Hard
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