Live Free or Die Hard
Live Free or Die Hard
Live Free or Die Hard official movie poster
Directed by Len Wiseman Produced by Michael Fottrell
Stephen James Eads
Screenplay by Mark Bomback
Story by Mark Bomback
Based on "A Farewell to Arms" by
Starring Bruce Willis
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Music by Marco Beltrami Cinematography Simon Duggan Editing by Nicolas De Toth Studio 20th Century Fox
Ingenious Film Partners
Distributed by 20th Century Fox Release date(s) June 27, 2007 Running time 129 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $110 million Box office $383,431,464
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 series. The film was directed by Len Wiseman and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane. The name was adapted from the state motto of New Hampshire, "Live Free or Die". The main plot finds McClane fighting a gang of cyber terrorists who plan to hack FBI computers. 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 US rating was PG-13 rather than R. An unrated version of Live Free or Die Hard containing profanity and violence not included in the theatrical version was made available for the DVD release.
The film received generally positive reviews, earning an 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 69/100 from Metacritic. The film had total international box office gross receipts of $383.4 million. 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.
A number of computer hackers upload programs they were paid to code to a woman named Mai Linh. Soon, all of the unknown hackers are killed by explosives wired to their computers. Mai uses the programs to cause a brief computer outage at the FBI Cyber-Security Division in the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The FBI responds by initiating a nationwide roundup of all known top hackers. NYPD detective John McClane is assigned to bring a hacker named Matthew "Matt" Farrell into FBI custody. McClane's unexpected arrival stops Farrell from unknowingly triggering the explosives meant for him. Mai has assassins as backup, but McClane protects Farrell and kills most of their attackers. The next day, Mai's boss and companion, Thomas Gabriel, gives her orders to initiate his plot. The first phase involves taking control of the transportation grids (including the airports, the railroads, and traffic lights) and the stock market.
McClane takes Farrell to the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., where Farrell is questioned. FBI director Miguel Bowman is uninterested in his surmise: Farrell believes the terrorists are mounting a "fire sale" (where "everything must go") attack, exploiting the vulnerability of the nation's computer-controlled infrastructure. McClane and Farrell drive away in an FBI Police cruiser to a secure building, but Gabriel and Mai locate Farrell and divert them to gunmen waiting in a helicopter. In the ensuing firefight, McClane destroys the helicopter with the police cruiser.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, Gabriel televises a national broadcast of a fake video of the United States Capitol exploding, setting off a public panic. Farrell believes that the power grid will be the next target, and directs McClane to a utility superstation in West Virginia, where they find Mai and her henchmen. McClane kills all of them. When Gabriel tries to contact Mai, he reaches McClane instead, who taunts him with the news of his girlfriend's demise. Farrell transmits Gabriel's image to the FBI, allowing them to identify him. Enraged, Gabriel redirects all the natural gas in nearby pipelines to the station, but McClane and Farrell escape just before the resulting explosion causes a power outage across the East Coast. Farrell suggests they get help from his hacker friend, Frederick "Warlock" Kaludis.
Warlock locates the program Farrell created for Gabriel. It is being used in a Social Security Administration building at Woodlawn, Maryland, an unlikely target. They discover that it is actually a front for a highly classified government facility which Gabriel instituted during his tenure at the National Security Agency (NSA). In case of a total computer systems failure—such as the one Gabriel manufactured—every critical personal and financial record across the country is sent to servers there to create a backup. Gabriel's men take over the facility and start downloading a copy. Warlock is also able to explain Gabriel's motivation: a talented hacker, he was once a top expert for the NSA. However, he was fired and his reputation was tarnished when he tried to sound the alarm about America's vulnerability to cyber-warfare.
Gabriel detects Warlock's hack and speaks with him, McClane, and Farrell; he reveals that he has taken McClane's estranged daughter Lucy hostage. After Warlock traces Gabriel's location to Woodlawn, McClane and Farrell head there, where Farrell triggers an alarm in the facility to alert the FBI. As McClane deals with Gabriel's forces, Farrell encrypts the downloaded data to block access to it, but is captured. Gabriel and his men leave the facility, Farrell and Lucy in tow, before the FBI arrive. McClane hijacks Gabriel's semi and pursues. During the chase, McClane uses the truck's CB to contact Warlock who connects him to Bowman. McClane gives the license plate number of Gabriel's hazmat van to Bowman so he can use the vehicle's LoJack to locate Gabriel and bring help. Gabriel hacks into the military's computers to deceive a United States Marine Corp F-35B Lightning II pilot into believing that McClane is a terrorist. The pilot attacks McClane's vehicle, but he inadvertently destroys the aircraft with falling debris. Escaping the destruction, McClane spots Gabriel's van pulling into a warehouse and heads there.
McClane dispatches all but one of Gabriel's henchmen, Emerson, who shoots McClane in his shoulder. Gabriel makes McClane watch as he prepares to kill Lucy and Farrell. However, when Gabriel grinds his gun into McClane's wound, McClane fires it through his own shoulder and into Gabriel's heart, killing him. Emerson is killed by Farrell. Afterwards, to McClane's chagrin, Lucy and Farrell show romantic interest in each other.
- Bruce Willis as Detective John McClane
- Justin Long as Matthew "Matt" Farrell
- Timothy Olyphant as Thomas Gabriel. Olyphant filmed his role in three weeks.
- Jonathan Sadowski as Trey, Gabriel's main hacker
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lucy Gennero-McClane, McClane's estranged daughter. The inclusion of McClane's daughter was previously considered for Die Hard with a Vengeance, 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 the original Die Hard was released, was a prime candidate for the part of Lucy McClane. Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, and Taylor Fry, who played Lucy in the original Die Hard film in 1988, had all previously auditioned for the role.
- Maggie Q as Mai Linh
- Cliff Curtis as Miguel Bowman, FBI Deputy Director
- Kevin Smith as Frederick "Warlock" Kaludis, Farrell's hacker friend
- Cyril Raffaelli as Rand, Gabriel's henchman
- Željko Ivanek as Agent Molina, Bowman's assistant and friend
- Edoardo Costa as Emerson, Gabriel's main henchman
- Yorgo Constantine as Russo, Gabriel's henchman
- Andrew Friedman as Casper
- Christina Chang as Taylor
- Sung Kang as Raj
- Tim Russ as Agent Summers
Script and title
The film's plot is based on an earlier script entitled WW3.com by David Marconi, screenwriter of Enemy of the State. Using a Wired article entitled "A Farewell to Arms" by John Carlin, Marconi crafted a screenplay about a cyber-terrorist attack on the U.S. 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 the state motto of New Hampshire, "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 DVD commentary for the film, 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 visual effects of the film.
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 final scenes of the film 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 final scenes of the film, 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 MPAA. 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 that, watching it, due to the level and intensity of the action, and the usage of some profanity, although less than 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 BBFC awarded the film a 15 rating, 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 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 franchise (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 franchise.
The film has a score of 82% with a certified "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 198 reviews with the consensus being it is "an efficient, action-packed summer popcorn flick" and 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 Length 63:06 Label Varèse Sarabande
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 passing away 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 SoundtrackNet, 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 United States 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 number 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."
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- Live Free or Die Hard at AllRovi
- Live Free or Die Hard at the Internet Movie Database
- Live Free or Die Hard at Cinema and Science
- Live Free or Die Hard at Rotten Tomatoes
- Live Free or Die Hard soundtrack questions/answers at the SoundtrackINFO project
- Live Free or Die Hard at Metacritic
- "A Farewell to Arms", the Wired article on which the film's script was based
- Live Free or Die Hard trailer at Yahoo! Movies
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