Live Free or Die Hard
|Live Free or Die Hard|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Len Wiseman|
|Produced by||Michael Fottrell|
|Screenplay by||Mark Bomback|
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Editing by||Nicolas De Toth|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||129 minutes|
Live Free or Die Hard (released as Die Hard 4.0 outside North America), is a 2007 American action film, and the fourth installment in the Die Hard film series. The film was directed by Len Wiseman and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane. The name was adapted from New Hampshire's state motto, "Live Free or Die".
The main plot finds McClane fighting a gang of cyber terrorists who plan to hack computers of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The film was based on the 1997 article "A Farewell to Arms" written for Wired magazine by John Carlin. The film's North American release date was June 27, 2007.
After the project was stalled due to the September 11, 2001 attacks, production eventually began, and the film's title was switched several times. A variety of visual effects were used for action sequences, even though Wiseman and Willis stated that they wanted to limit the amount of CGI in the film. In separate incidents during filming, both Willis and his stunt double were injured.
Unlike the prior three films in the series, the U.S. rating was PG-13 rather than R. An unrated version contained more strong profanity and violence not in the theatrical version, and was made available for the DVD release.
Reviews were positive, an 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 69/100 from Metacritic. The film had total international box office gross receipts of $383.4 million, making it the highest-grossing film in the Die Hard series. It debuted at #2 at the U.S. box office.
For the DVD release, 20th Century Fox pioneered a new kind of DRM, Digital Copy, that tries to weaken the incentives for consumers to learn how to rip discs by offering them a downloadable version with studio-imposed restrictions. The score for the film was released on July 2, 2007. The fifth film in the series, titled A Good Day to Die Hard was released on February 14, 2013.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) responds to a brief computer outage at their Cyber-Security Division by tracing down top computer hackers, finding several of them have been killed. Taking others into protective custody, the F.B.I. asks New York City Police Department detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) to collect Matthew "Matt" Farrell (Justin Long). McClane arrives in time to prevent Farrell from being killed by assassins working for a cyber-terrorist named Mai Linh (Maggie Q), who was working for her boss and love interest, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). En route to Washington, D.C. Farrell explains he had written a portion of security code for a large sum of money from Mai.
As they arrive in D.C., Gabriel orders his own crew of hackers to take control of the transportation grids and stock market, while nationally broadcasting a message threatening the United States. Farrell recognizes this as the start of a "fire sale", an attack designed to target the nation's reliance on computer controls, such that "everything must go". McClane and Farrell are taken by police escorts to the secured F.B.I. headquarters, but Mai, using the hijacked grids, reroutes the convoy into the path of an assault helicopter.
McClane takes down the helicopter by launching a police car over a damaged toll booth into it. As McClane and Farrell recover, Gabriel initiates a second broadcast, showing a simulated explosion of the U.S. Capitol building, sending the public into panic. Farrell recognizes that the next target of the "fire sale" is likely the power grid, and the two drive to a utility superstation in West Virginia.
They find a team led by Mai breaking into the station's controls. McClane kills them all, and obtains video footage of Gabriel, which they relay to F.B.I. headquarters. Enraged over Mai's death, Gabriel uses remote control of the station to redirect the natural gas supply into it. McClane and Farrell escape before the station explodes, leaving much of the eastern seaboard without power.
Farrell directs McClane to a fellow hacker, Frederick "Warlock" Kaludis (Kevin Smith), in Baltimore. Warlock, running his computer systems from several generators, identifies the piece of code Farrell wrote as a means to access data at a Social Security Administration building at Woodlawn, Maryland. They realize this building is a front for a U.S. National Security Agency facility, designed by Gabriel to download all personal and financial records in case of a cyber-security emergency such as this one generated by Gabriel himself.
Warlock reveals Gabriel's motivation. The talented hacker was once a top expert for the U.S. Defense Department. However, Gabriel was fired and his reputation was tarnished when he tried to sound the alarm about America's vulnerability to cyberwarfare. Gabriel detects Warlock's hack, speaks with him, Farrell, and McClane, and reveals that he has kidnapped McClane's estranged daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
McClane and Farrell race to the Woodlawn facility. As McClane deals with Gabriel's men, Farrell discovers that Gabriel is downloading all the information onto a portable computer system, and he is able to encrypt the data after it is completed. Gabriel is forced to take Farrell as they escape the facility.
McClane follows, hijacking Gabriel's semi and gains Warlock's help to trace Gabriel's own vehicle. With McClane in pursuit, Gabriel hacks into the military's computers to deceive a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II pilot into believing that McClane is a terrorist. McClane is able to escape the assault when pieces from the damaged truck fall into the jet intake of the aircraft from a highway exit ramp.
McClane makes his way to a nearby warehouse to which Warlock tracked Gabriel. Though McClane dispatches most of Gabriel's men, Gabriel's last henchman, Emerson, wounds him in the shoulder. When Gabriel holds McClane from behind, McClane manages to make Gabriel fire a gun through McClane's wounded shoulder, killing Gabriel. Farrell then kills Emerson with a gun that had fallen to the floor earlier in the confrontation. As the F.B.I. arrives to tend to McClane and Farrell's wounds and clean up, McClane is displeased to see Lucy and Farrell taking a romantic interest in each other.
- Bruce Willis as Lieutenant John McClane
- Justin Long as Matthew "Matt" Farrell, a computer hacker from Camden, New Jersey
- Timothy Olyphant as Thomas Gabriel, the main antagonist, a former U.S. Defense Department analyst who leads a group of cyber-terrorists systematically shutting down the entire U.S. infrastructure. Olyphant filmed Gabriel within three weeks.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lucy Gennero-McClane, McClane's estranged daughter who, along with Farrell, is kidnapped by Gabriel and his four henchmen. The inclusion of McClane's daughter was previously considered for the third film, and she was in the video game Die Hard: Vendetta. It was speculated that Willis' real life daughter Rumer, who was born the same year that Die Hard was released, was a prime candidate for the part of McClane's daughter. Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, and Taylor Fry, who played McClane's daughter in Die Hard, had all previously auditioned for the role.
- Maggie Q as Mai Linh, Gabriel's primary accomplice and girlfriend
- Kevin Smith as Frederick "Warlock" Kaludis, Farrell's hacker friend
- Cliff Curtis as Miguel Bowman, Deputy Director of the F.B.I.'s Cyber Crime Division
- Jonathan Sadowski as Trey, Gabriel's hacker
- Edoardo Costa as Emerson, Gabriel's main henchman
- Cyril Raffaelli as Rand, Gabriel's henchman
- Yorgo Constantine as Russo, Gabriel's henchman
- Chris Palermo as Del, Gabriel's henchman
- Andrew Friedman as Casper, a computer hacker who is working with Gabriel
- Željko Ivanek as Agent Molina, Bowman's assistant
- Christina Chang as Taylor, an F.B.I. agent working for Bowman
- Sung Kang as Raj, an Asian-American F.B.I. employee
- Tim Russ as Agent Summer
Script and title
The film's plot is based on an earlier script entitled WW3.com by David Marconi, screenwriter of the 1998 film Enemy of the State. Using John Carlin's Wired magazine article entitled "A Farewell to Arms", Marconi crafted a screenplay about a cyber-terrorist attack on the United States. The attack procedure is known as a "fire sale", depicting a three-stage coordinated attack on a country's transportation, telecommunications, financial, and utilities infrastructure systems. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the project was stalled, only to be resurrected several years later and rewritten into Live Free or Die Hard by Doug Richardson and eventually by Mark Bomback.
Willis said in 2005 that the film would be called Die Hard 4.0, as it revolves around computers and cyber-terrorism. IGN later reported the film was to be called Die Hard: Reset instead. 20th Century Fox later announced the title as Live Free or Die Hard and set a release date of June 29, 2007 with filming to begin in September 2006. The title is based on New Hampshire's state motto, "Live Free or Die", which is attributed to a quote from General John Stark. International trailers use the Die Hard 4.0 title, as the film was released outside North America with that title. Early into the film's DVD commentary, both Wiseman and Willis note a preference for Die Hard 4.0, and subtly mock the Live Free or Die Hard title.
For the visual effects used throughout the film, actor Bruce Willis and director Len Wiseman stated that they wanted to use a limited amount of CGI. One VFX producer said that "Len was insisting on the fact that, because we’ve got Transformers and other big CG movies coming out, this one has to feel more real. It has to be embedded in some kind of practical reality in order to give it that edge of being a Die Hard." Companies such as Digital Dimension, The Orphanage, R!ot, Pixel Magic, and Amalgamated Pixels assisted in the film's visual effects.
Digital Dimension worked on 200 visual effects shots in the film, including the sequence that shows characters John McClane and Matt Farrell crouching between two cars as another car lands on top of the other cars. To achieve this effect, a crane yanked the car and threw it in the air onto the two cars that were also being pulled by cables. The shot was completed when the two characters were integrated into the footage of the car stunt after the lighting was adjusted and CGI glass and debris were added. In the same sequence, John McClane propels a car into a hovering helicopter, which crashes to the ground. This was accomplished by first filming one take where an assassin with a rifle jumps from the helicopter, and in the next take the car is propelled into the stationary helicopter as it is hoisted by wires. The final view of the shot overlays the two takes, with added CGI for the debris and moving rotor blades. The company also assisted in adding cars for traffic collisions and masses of people for evacuations from several government buildings.
The Orphanage developed a multi-level freeway interchange for use in one of the film's final scenes by creating a digital environment and a 1,000-foot (300 m) long spiral ramp that was built in front of a bluescreen. When a F-35 jet is chasing McClane on the freeway, a miniature model and a full-size prop were both built to assist in digitally adding the jet into the scene. The nine-foot model was constructed from November 2006 through February 2007. When the jet is shown hovering near the freeway, editors used the software 3D graphics program Maya to blur the background and create a heat ripple effect.
Filming and injuries
Filming for Live Free or Die Hard started in downtown Baltimore, Maryland on September 23, 2006. Eight different sets were built on a large soundstage for filming many scenes throughout the film. When recording the sound for the semi trailer used in one of the film's final scenes, 18 microphones were used to record the engine, tires, and damage to the vehicle. Post-production for the film only took 16 weeks, when it was more common for similar films to use 26 weeks.
In order to prevent possible injuries and be in peak condition for the film, Willis worked out almost daily for several months prior to filming. Willis was injured January 24, 2007 during a fight scene, when he was kicked above his right eye by a stunt double for actress Maggie Q who was wearing stiletto heels. Willis described the event as "no big deal" but when Len Wiseman inspected his injury, he noticed that the situation was much more serious than previously thought—in the DVD commentary, Wiseman indicates in inspecting the wound that he could see bone. Willis was hospitalized and received seven stitches which ran through his right eyebrow and down into the corner of his eye. Due to the film's non-linear production schedule, these stitches can accidentally be seen in the scene where McClane first delivers Farrell to Bowman.
Throughout filming, between 200 and 250 stunt people were used. Bruce Willis' stunt double, Larry Rippenkroeger, was knocked unconscious when he fell 25 feet (7.6 m) from a fire escape to the pavement. Rippenkroeger suffered broken bones in his face, several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and fractures in both wrists. Due to his injuries, production was temporarily shut down. Willis personally paid the hotel bills for Rippenkroeger's parents and visited him a number of times at the hospital.
In the United States, the first three films in the Die Hard series were rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America. Live Free or Die Hard, however, was edited to obtain a PG-13 rating. In some cases, character dialogue was cut or muted in post-production to reduce profanity. Director Len Wiseman commented on the rating, saying "It was about three months into it [production], and I hadn't even heard that it was PG-13... But in the end, it was just trying to make the best Die Hard movie, not really thinking so much about what the rating would be." Bruce Willis was upset with the studio's decision, stating, "I really wanted this one to live up to the promise of the first one, which I always thought was the only really good one. That's a studio decision that is becoming more and more common, because they’re trying to reach a broader audience. It seems almost a courageous move to give a picture an R rating these days. But we still made a pretty hardcore, smashmouth film." Willis said he thought that viewers unaware that it was not an R-rated film would not suspect so due to the level and intensity of the action as well as the usage of some profanity, although he admitted these elements were less intense than in the previous films. He also said that this film was the best of the four: "It's unbelievable. I just saw it last week. I personally think, it's better than the first one."
In the United Kingdom, the British Board of Film Classification awarded the film a 15 rating for both versions, the same as Die Hard with a Vengeance (the first two films in the series received an 18 certificate). The film was released with no cuts made and advice that it "contains frequent action violence and one use of strong language".
Live Free or Die Hard debuted at #2 at the box office and made $9.1 million in its first day of release in 3,172 theaters, the best opening day take of any film in the Die Hard series (not taking inflation into account). On its opening weekend Live Free or Die Hard made $33.3 million ($48.3 million counting Wednesday and Thursday). The film made $134.5 million domestically, and $249.0 million overseas for a total of $383.5 million, making it the twelfth highest-grossing film of 2007. To date, it is the most successful film in the series.
The film has a score of 81% with a certified "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 204 reviews with the consensus being it is "an efficient, action-packed summer popcorn flick"; it also has a score of a "generally favorable" 69% on Metacritic based on 34 reviews. A review on IGN stated "Like the recent Rocky Balboa, this new Die Hard works as both its own story about an over-the-hill but still vital hero and as a nostalgia trip for those who grew up with the original films." On the television show Ebert & Roeper, film critic Richard Roeper and guest critic Katherine Tulich gave the film "two thumbs up", with Richard Roeper stating that the film is "not the best or most exciting Die Hard, but it is a lot of fun" and that it is his favorite among the sequels to the original Die Hard. Roeper also remarked, "Willis is in top form in his career-defining role." Michael Medved gave the film three and a half out of four stars, opining, "a smart script and spectacular special effects make this the best Die Hard of 'em all."
Among the more unfavorable reviews, Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer stated: "I can safely say I've never seen anything as ridiculous as Live Free or Die Hard." Toppman also wrote that the film had a lack of memorable villains and referred to John McClane as "just a bald Terminator with better one-liners".
|Live Free or Die Hard Score|
|Soundtrack album by Marco Beltrami|
|Released||July 2, 2007|
The score for Live Free or Die Hard, written by Marco Beltrami, was released on July 2, 2007 by Varèse Sarabande (which also released the soundtracks for the first two Die Hard films), several days after the United States release of the film. This was the first film not to be scored by Michael Kamen, due to his death in 2003; Beltrami incorporates Kamen's thematic material into his score, but Kamen is not credited on the film or the album. Other songs in the film include "Rock & Roll Queen" by The Subways, "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "I'm So Sick" by Flyleaf, "Goth (Remix)" by 615 Music and Craig Sharmat, "Cycler" by RipTide Music, and "War Zone" by Audiomachine. Eric Lichtenfeld, reviewing from Soundtrack.net, called the score's action cues "in which the entire orchestra seems percussive, flow well together."
- "Out of Bullets" (1:08)
- "Shootout" (3:41)
- "Leaving the Apartment" (2:08)
- "Dead Hackers" (1:31)
- "Traffic Jam" (4:13)
- "It's a Fire Sale" (2:57)
- "The Break-In" (2:28)
- "Farrell to D.C." (4:36)
- "Copter Chase" (4:41)
- "Blackout" (2:03)
- "Illegal Broadcast" (3:48)
- "Hurry Up!" (1:23)
- "The Power Plant" (2:01)
- "Landing" (2:28)
- "Cold Cuts" (2:00)
- "Break a Neck" (2:47)
- "Farrell Is In" (4:22)
- "The F-35" (4:13)
- "Aftermath" (3:12)
- "Live Free or Die Hard" (2:56)
Home media release
The Blu-ray and DVD were released on October 29, 2007, in the United Kingdom, on October 31 in Hungary, November 20 in the United States, and December 12 in Australia. The DVD topped rental and sales charts in its opening week of release in the U.S. and Canada. There is an unrated version, which retains much of the original 'R-rated' dialogue, and a theatrical version of the film. The Blu-ray release features the PG-13 theatrical cut which runs at 128 minutes, while the Collector's Edition DVD includes both the unrated and theatrical versions. Time magazine's Richard Corliss named it one of the Top 10 DVDs of 2007, ranking it at #10.
The DVD for the film was the first to include a Digital Copy of the film which could be played on a PC or Mac computer and could also be imported into several models of portable video players. Mike Dunn, a president for 20th Century Fox, stated "The industry has sold nearly 12 billion DVDs to date, and the release of Live Free or Die Hard is the first one that allows consumers to move their content to other devices."
- "Live Free or Die Hard". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- Carlin, John (May 1997). "A Farewell to Arms". Wired. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- By NIKKI FINKE, Editor in Chief (2007-06-29). "'Ratatouille' Roasts Rivals, 'Die Hard' #2; Michael Moore's 'Sicko' Has Healthy Debut". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
- Freydkin, Donna (June 29, 2007). "'Die Hard' easy for Olyphant". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Die Hard: Vendetta". Metacritic. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "Die Hard 4.0 (2007)". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica-Episode #22 "Mismatched Threesome"". TV.com. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
- "Britney Spears To Join Die Hard 4 Cast?". KillerMovies.com. January 21, 2003. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Thomas, Brian (June 27, 2007). "Movie Review Live Free or Die Hard". Mania Movies. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Petrikin, Chris (January 27, 1998). "Fox eyes 'WW3.com' as tentpole for 1999". Variety. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Besson To Develop WW3.com". Syfy. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008.
- Fleming, Michael; Claude Brodesser (July 26, 2004). "The 'Die Hard' is cast for scribe Richardson". Variety. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Stax (July 31, 2006). "Long Shot for Die Hard: Reset". IGN. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Breznican, Anthony (August 3, 2006). "'Die Hard' series coming back to life". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Willis Confirms 'Die Hard 4' Nearly Ready To Roll". Internet Movie Database. May 22, 2006. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Merrick (February 15, 2007). "The International Live Free or Die Hard Trailer Calls It Die Hard 4.0!?!?". Ain't It Cool News. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Live Free or Die Hard-(Commentary by Bruce Willis, Director Len Wiseman, and Editor Nicholas De Toth) (Collector's Edition DVD). 20th Century Fox. 2007.
- Douglas, Edward (June 14, 2007). "Bruce Willis Gets a Second Life!". ComingSoon.net. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Frazer, Bryant (July 12, 2007). "How They Did It: Live Free or Die Hard". StudioDaily.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Digital Dimension creates explosive effects for 'Live Free Or Die Hard'". CGSociety.org. July 1, 2007. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Bielik, Alain (July 2, 2007). "Live Free or Die Hard: A VFX Race Against Time". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Gray, Simon (July 2007). "One-Man Riot Squad". American Cinematographer 88 (7): 32
- Weinberg, Scott (September 21, 2006). "Bruce Willis Starts Shooting "Die Hard 4" — in Baltimore". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Live Free or Die Hard-"Analog Hero in a Digital World: Making of Live Free or Die Hard" (Special Feature) (Collector's Edition DVD). 20th Century Fox. 2007.
- "Live Free or Die Hard". Cinema Review. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Ain't That A Kick In The Head: Bruce Willis Injured". Access Hollywood. January 25, 2007. Archived from the original on November 19, 2007. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
- Welkos, Robert W. (May 25, 2007). "Defying death for real". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Sciretta, Peter (May 2, 2007). "Live Free or Die Hard to be cut for a PG-13 Rating?!". SlashFilm.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Sciretta, Peter (May 7, 2007). "Confirmed: Live Free or Die Hard is Rated PG-13". SlashFilm.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Bowles, Scott (June 26, 2007). "'Die Hard' tries for a fresh piece of the action". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Sciretta, Peter (May 4, 2007). "Bruce Willis says Live Free or Die Hard is better than Die Hard". SlashFilm.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Die Hard 4.0". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Live Free or Die Hard-Daily Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "Live Free or Die Hard-Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "Die Hard Series". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "Live Free or Die Hard (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "Live Free or Die Hard". Metacritic. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- Stax (June 27, 2007). "Live Free or Die Hard Review". IGN. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Episode 379". At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper. June 30, 2007.
- Medved, Michael. "Live Free or Die Hard". michaelmedved.com. Archived from the original on January 14, 2008. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
- Toppman, Lawrence (June 28, 2007). "Why not just call sequel 'Die Hard to Believe'?" (Fee required). The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- Lichtenfeld, Eric. "Live Free or Die Hard". SoundtrackNet. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Gould, Chris. "Die Hard 4.0". Dvdactive.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Die Hard 4.0 — Legdrágább az életed". Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- "Release Dates-November 20, 2007". JoBlo.com. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011=April 21, 2009.
- Gaul, Lou (November 27, 2007). "Top DVD rentals, sellers for 11/27". PhillyBurbs.com. Retrieved April 21, 2009.[dead link]
- "Rogers Video: "Live Free or Die Hard" atop both rentals and sales lists". Canadian Press. November 26, 2007.
- Corliss, Richard (December 9, 2007). "Top 10 DVDs". Time. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
- Arnold, Thomas (October 16, 2007). "'Die Hard' with a bonus" (Registration required). The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Live Free or Die Hard|
- Live Free or Die Hard at the Internet Movie Database
- Live Free or Die Hard at AllRovi
- Live Free or Die Hard at Metacritic
- Live Free or Die Hard at Rotten Tomatoes
- Live Free or Die Hard on Wikia
- Live Free or Die Hard soundtrack questions/answers at the SoundtrackINFO project
- "A Farewell to Arms", the Wired article on which the film's script was based