As a high-octane action film starring Bruce Willis, Live Free or Die Hard is really quite spectacular -- what with its larger-than-life effects and nonsensical stunt maneuvers. But we're supposed to believe this is the next installment in the Die Hard franchise, and not "just another summer action flick." So when Detective John McClane leaps out of a squad car going 40mph, sending it up a concrete divider and into a conveniently-placed helicopter, you have to ask yourself this: Am I here for the popcorn action or am I here to spend two hours with one of my all-time favorite movie characters? If it's the latter, then you might find yourself slightly disappointed -- this isn't the same John McClane who woke up next to an unfinished cocktail and an empty bottle of aspirin. This is John McClane after he woke up next to an assortment of summer superhero flicks, chock-full of just enough explosive set pieces to make it worth your money.
If there's a Suspension of Disbelief machine currently on sale at your local Best Buy, then I suggest picking one up before heading to the movie theater. The first major difference between this Die Hard film versus the previous three is not the concept, but the execution. A group of clean-cut hackers hijack this country's most important support systems in an attempt to shut it all down while causing mass chaos. I can buy that. A jet hovering three feet above an active freeway? The fact that John McClane somehow has 47 lives when the rest of us get just one? Timothy Olyphant as a believable Die Hard villain? Kevin Smith's laughable role in the film (watching him try not to curse was almost as painful as watching him try not to act)? And McClane's daughter taking down a guy larger than three trees combined? This is Die Hard on steroids; jacked up to a level where it still looks familiar, except it's now capable of splitting you in two with its pinkie finger. But while it might hurt those expecting the punch, others will walk away not knowing what just hit them.