I can’t imagine any reason Bruce Willis made another Die Hard film except for money. If he’s not embarrassed by this, then he should be. One of the things that made the earlier movies so fun was the wise cracking character of John McClane embodied so perfectly by Willis. Fresh off the fabulous and original TV series “Moonlighting” (where Willis played a wiseacre to perfection), Willis imbued McClane with a very American can-do spirit made up of equal parts stubbornness, courage, independence and rebellion. Both the rebel spirit and the fearlessness against institutions, bad guys and silly conventions kept the Die Hard pictures from getting stuck too far in the mud in spite of relatively conventional action story lines. Of course, Willis’ smirk and way with a witty crack helped, too. In the latest effort, Live Free or Die Hard, the conventions have finally caught up with the form. Maybe Willis’ age thwarts the conceit of an outsider? Perhaps he is just too old to play out adolescent frustration. The writers didn’t help him out any by having McClane work with, rather than against, everyone else. McClane just feels like another cog in the wheel, hamstrung by a daughter, responsibility and conscience. What fun is there in that?

Grade: D

Live Free or Die Hard is currently available.