Live Free or Die Hard
Live Free or Die Hard (released as Die Hard 4.0 outside of 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 protagonist of the first three films. The storyline takes place 12 years after the third film, and finds McClane facing a gang of cyber terrorists. 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 a 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 69/100 from Metacritic. The film had total international box office gross receipts of $383.5 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 in a hacker named Matthew “Matt” Farrell into FBI custody who lives in Camden, New Jersey, McClane’s unexpected arrival stops Farrell from unknowingly triggering the explosives meant for him. Mai has assassins as backup, but McClane is able to protect Farrell and kill most of their attackers. The next morning, Mai’s boss and lover, Thomas Gabriel, gives orders to initiate his plot. The first phase involves taking control of the transportation grid (most particularly, traffic lights) and the stock market.
McClane drives Farrell to the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., where Farrell is questioned. FBI director Miguel Bowman is uninterested in his surmise: Farrell believes that the terrorists are mounting a “fire sale” attack, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the nation’s computer-controlled infrastructure. McClane and Farrell are driven in a convoy to a secure building, but Gabriel and Mai are able to locate Farrell and divert the convoy to gunmen waiting in a helicopter. In the ensuing firefight, McClane manages to destroy the helicopter with a police cruiser.
As McClane and Farrell recover, over the Fourth of July weekend, Gabriel nationally 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 is able to kill all of them. When Gabriel tries to contact Mai, he reaches McClane instead, who taunts him with the news of his dead girlfriend. Farrell transmits Gabriel’s image to the FBI, allowing them to identify their nemesis. 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 over most of the East Coast. Farrell suggests that they get help from his hacker friend, Frederick “Warlock” Kaludis.
Warlock, who has power generators ready in case of an outage, 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 to McClane 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 manages to encrypt the downloaded data to block access to it, but is captured. Gabriel and his men then leave the facility, Farrell and Lucy in tow, before the FBI arrive. McClane hijacks Gabriel’s semi and pursues. Gabriel hacks into the military’s computers to deceive a United States Air Force F-35B Lightning II pilot into believing that McClane is a terrorist. The pilot attacks McClane’s vehicle, but he manages to survive and inadvertantly destroys the aircraft with falling debris.
McClane dispatches all but one of Gabriel’s henchmen, but Gabriel still holds Lucy and Farrell hostage. Gabriel’s henchman, Emerson, shoots McClane in his shoulder and 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, killing him. Gabriel’s last surviving henchman is killed by Farrell. Afterwards, to McClane’s chagrin, Lucy and Farrell show interest in each other.