Plot: What’s it about?
The United States is under attack, but not from guns, missiles, or nuclear weapons. The attack is crippling, but it comes from computer code, not from bullets or bombs. A group has launched a multi-tier attack on the crucial networks, which if completed could leave America in total darkness. In order to pull off this epic assault, the group hired in numerous freelance hackers, including Mike (Justin Long). All of the other hackers brought in have been killed, but Mike remains alive and he is soon the subject of a manhunt from both sides. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is assigned to pick up Mike and bring him in, which leads to a wild shootout between hired assassins and McClane. The full plan is soon revealed, as Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) is discovered as the group’s leader, with plans to shut down all of America’s vital networks. As time begins to run out, McClane and Mike set out to throw a wrench in the plan, but can even McClane handle this kind of assignment?
The original Die Hard was an action cinema landmark, complete with iconic lead character John McClane, played of course by Bruce Willis. That was nineteen years ago, but McClane returned and while Willis was almost two decades older, he showed that both he and McClane still had some gas in the tank. Live Free or Die Hard is miles removed from Die Hard, where a normal man battled extreme circumstances. Now McClane is a man of miracles, able to do what no one could do in real life and always able to add a quick catchphrase as it happens. The over the top action here is hard to swallow at times, so if you want even remote realism, don’t look here. But if you just want to shut off your brain, munch some popcorn, and see one eye popping set piece after another, this movie delivers. Fox’s Blu-ray disc only sports the theatrical version of the movie, but it looks excellent and all of the extras have been ported over. If you’re a fan of the Die Hard series, you’ll want to see Live Free or Die Hard and this Blu-ray disc is the best place to see it, despite the lack of the unrated version.
Video: How does it look?
Live Free or Die Hard is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is one impressive transfer, one that approaches reference level, but comes just a touch short. The problems are minor, with overly dark black levels at times and some light softness, but they do warrant a mention. But rest assured, Live Free or Die Hard looks awesome and provides plenty of eye popping moments sure to be used to show off your home theater. In some scenes, detail is almost three dimensional, the kind of depth and refinement that make high definition so damn impressive. I found colors to be accurate, but keep in mind the film does have a blue tint at times, while contrast is superb, save for a handful of black crush moments. This movie simply looks incredible here and while it isn’t perfect, it comes very close.
Audio: How does it sound?
As always, Fox supplies a lossless DTS HD 5.1 option and if you like it loud, you’ll love this soundtrack. The surrounds will pulse with action here, with powerful and bombastic presence that never seems to slow down. The action scenes are dynamic and as I said before, quite loud. So if you live in an apartment, you might want to turn the volume down low, otherwise you might be evicted the next morning. As powerful and loud as the audio is, the small touches aren’t ignored either, so the atmospheric elements fall into line also. I was floored by the bass here too, with deep and booming kicks, which come around often. So like I said, this is one loud track and I am sure fans will be in heaven here. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, Spanish and French language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Korean.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes all the goodies from the standard release, plus an exclusive BD-Java game, which isn’t that fun. I recommend you skip it, as it is dull and doesn’t offer much entertainment. What is worth a look is Analog Hero in a Digital World, an exhaustive behind the scenes piece that runs over ninety minutes in length. This is all substance too, not a padded out EPK, so prepare to learn as much about the film’s production as you can handle. The piece includes a wealth of on set footage, which is quite insightful, as well as a look at how this film fits into the Die Hard franchise. In short, Analog Hero in a Digital World is a must see piece for fans of the film or the Die Hard series as a whole. Also included is an interview with Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis, which is decent, but the five minute Fox Legacy featurette isn’t worth the effort. Next up is an audio commentary with director Len Wiseman, editor Nicolas de Toth, and star Bruce Willis. The session is much more open and candid than I expected, with a lot of worthwhile tidbits and a lot of time spent on the changes made for the PG-13 theatrical version. Kind of makes you mad, since the unrated version wasn’t included here, but the track is still worth a listen for fans. This disc also includes a music video, a brief look at the video’s production, and the film’s theatrical trailer.