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Film / Live Free or Die Hard

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Live Free or Die Hard (known as Die Hard 4.0 outside of the U.S.) is the fourth movie in the popular Die Hard franchise. It was released in theaters in the U.S. on June 29, 2007.

In this installment, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is teamed up with a computer hacker named Matt Farrell (Justin Long), to stop a group of cyberterrorists led by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). Gabriel's group are trying to execute a massive organized strike to disrupt society by dismantling technical infrastructure in the United States. McClane's daughter Lucy returns as a Damsel in Distress.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Thomas Gabriel, in a villainous sense. He is incredibly good at what he does, and is known amongst the hacker community as the man who hacked into NORAD with a laptop, just to prove a point back when he worked for the NSA.
  • Action Duo | Cop and Scientist: McClane and Matt Farrell.
  • Agony of the Feet:
    • John shoots one of Mai's henchmen in the foot as they struggle.
    • Lucy shoots Emerson in the foot while he holds her hostage, but he manages to regain control of the pistol and uses that to hold her hostage.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Gabriel's message to the United States, using a montage of clips from Presidential Speeches:
    "For all the -vital -technology -that -this -nation -holds -dear, -all communications transportation the Internet connectivity electrical power critical utilities, their fate -now -rests -in -our hands."
  • Annoying Pop-Up Ad: Weaponized when Playful Hacker Matt tries to slow down the Big Bad by bombarding his computer with popup ads, forcing him to clear them out before he can use it.
  • Artistic License – Military: An F-35 fighter jet engages a target with its cannons at point-blank range. Not just point blank for its guns, it's almost point-blank for pistols. Even better is that the STOVL version of the F-35 doesn't even have an internal gun (an external pod is being tested as of 2017), nor is it ever capable of hovering for more than a few seconds while landing.
  • Attacking Through Yourself: At the climax, the Big Bad holds McClane at gunpoint, only for him to maneuver in such a way that the gun fires through McClane's shoulder into the Big Bad's heart.
  • Badass Boast: A nonchalant and impatient one when John flings a villain from his car.
    Farrell: Did you see that?
    McClane: Yeah, I saw it, I did it.
  • Bald Head of Toughness: McClane's lost all his hair, but that doesn't stop him from kicking ass.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: McClane punches a man through a lath-and-plaster wall. Granted, the man and his partner have already shot away most of the plaster.
  • Basement-Dweller: Turns out Matt's great computer genius hacker friend named Warlock is actually a late 30 something man who lives with his mother.
  • Being Good Sucks: McClane sourly notes that being hero doesn't get you anything but a lonely life, but he's going to do what's necessary because he's the only one who can.
  • Big Bad: Thomas Gabriel.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Subverted. Despite concerns over the PG-13 rating, this is still a pretty brutal film. Averted in the unrated version, in which squibs are used.
  • Call-Back: McClane shoots a henchman through the foot with the bad guy's holstered gun; Lucy pulls this on The Dragon during the climax.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The FBI SWAT team arrives to Gabriel's hideout only after McClane has killed all of Gabriel's men and Gabriel personally with his own gun. (Gabriel's last henchman, Emerson, was killed by Farrell.)
  • Car Cushion: Nobody can fall from any height without damaging a poor sod's car.
  • Car Fu: McClane destroys a chopper with a cop car, barbecues a Dark Action Girl with an SUV, and destroys a fighter plane with a big truck and an interstate highway (though that later one is almost entirely involuntary).
  • Car Skiing: McClane pulls one off on the crumbling freeway with the assistance of a misguided pilot and missiles.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Mai's "sexy" voice, which Farrell first comments on in the intro when he is in communication with her doing what he thinks is legal computer work. He later recognises the same voice when she impersonates a Metro PD dispatcher to try and lure an FBI convoy to a secluded area so they can kill Farrell.
    • Farrell's algorithm he sold to Gabriel's people under the impression it was to be used only for legal security testing. They later use it to access the NDA building, but when Farrell and McClane later break in, Farrell recognises his work and is also able to access the mainframe and place an encryption on the data before he is captured.
    • When Farrell and McClane visit Warlock, he notices that he has a ham radio and its frequency. When he gets in a truck with a radio, he calls Warlock to his radio and asks him to put him in contact with Bowman.
    • McClane's chief knows his exact location at the beginning because the unmarked unit, like all government vehicles, is equipped with a Lojack. This later comes up when McClane gives Bowman the tag of the government-owned vehicle the villain is fleeing in.
    • The combat technique of firing the opponent's sidearm while it's in its holster, shooting him in the foot, is first shown by McClane at the power plant. Lucy uses that same trick at the end to distract everyone.
  • Co-Dragons: Gabriel's mistress Mai and the French acrobatic henchman Rand.
  • Combat Parkour: The film features an enemy agent girl whose super-agile backflips and kicks almost manage to defeat John McClane. Then there's Rand, who makes an appearance both at the beginning and during the Woodlawn sequence, leading John to remark:
    McClane: Is the circus in town?
  • Combat Pragmatist: McClane defeats the Dark Action Girl by running her over with a car. Down an elevator shaft.
    • French acrobat Rand, for all his impressive skills, is done in by a spray of compressed gas to the face and a cooling fan.
    • John shoots Gabriel with the gun that the villain was pointing at McClane himself.
  • Continuity Nod: We are briefly introduced to another Agent Johnson. He suffers the same fate as the others.
    John: Again?
  • The Cracker: All the displayed hackers.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Len Wiseman voices the Camden captain John talks on the radio (whose name is also Wiseman) and plays the pilot of that doomed F-35.
  • Curse Cut Short: What happened to McClane's catch phrase. It is just barely audible in the Die Hard 4.0 version released overseas, and fully intact in the "unrated" cut.
  • Cut And Paste Video: Gabriel's message announcing their attacks is broadcasted by meticulously cutting and pasting clips from Presidential speeches and arranging them accordingly.
  • Dark Action Girl: Mai.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: Happens in the very first act of the movie, where McClane encounters a group of armed goons hired to kill Farell on the off-chance the explosives-rigged PC in the latter's room did not go off.
  • Date Rape Averted: McClane does this for his daughter at the beginning. Well, that's what he's under the impression he's doing, anyway. All evidence points to his daughter being absolutely capable of taking care of herself.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: How Rand meets his maker when John kicks a level sending a gush of freezing air into him while they're battling in a freezer room. The latter ends up missing his grip on a railing and falls into a spinning fan below.
  • Defiant Captive: Although she doesn't beat up her captors, when John's daughter Lucy has a gun to her head and is told to plead into the radio to make her father surrender, she instead demonstrates nerves of steel by choosing to give him some much-needed intel: "Now there are only five of them."
  • Determinator:
    • As always, John McClane himself. The man gets shot at, blown up, thrown from moving cars, thrown out of windows onto cars, thrown around by an explosion inside a car, shot, beaten to an inch of his life, shot at with Gatling guns, shot at with missiles, and dropped off the top of a hovering jet - and he still keeps on going!
      McClane: "I'm the fuckin' Energizer bunny."
    • Mai Linh takes a great amount of punishment in the course of the film, particularly at the gas plant, and yet doesn't show anything worse than a few cuts as a result. Eventually, she bites it after McClane rams a truck into her, which knocks her into a service elevator, then falls and explodes. in order to deal with her permanently.
      McClane: [Telling Gabriel what happened to Mai] "She's at the bottom of an elevator shaft with an SUV rammed up her ass."
    • Rand keeps surviving attempts at killing him, such as being hit by a car, slammed into a wire fence and clipped against the side of a garbage container. After this, he survives McClane's bit of Car Fu by jumping out of the helicopter, and not getting a single injury.
    • Seems Determinatoring is infectious. Farrell learns it from McClane and walks off a two-story fall in order to keep hacking and help save the day.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Matt (who had once looked up to Gabriel as a Well-Intentioned Extremist) is openly let down when he realizes the man's entire "bring down the system revolution" was all a smokescreen to hack top secret files and blackmail the government. He lampshades how Gabriel is basically getting rich off the same system he claims to hate.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: The first message from the hackers to the nation.
  • Dragon Their Feet: When Gabriel gets killed, Emerson tries to shoot John only to be killed by Matt.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Standard for the topic. Most computer screen visible are full of pointless animated widgets and the UI windows for Gabriel's team open and close by moving in from the sides for no sensible reason.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: McClane drops a car on Mai and it explodes when it lands at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
  • Everything Is Online: The hackers mess up the traffic lights, TV broadcasts, and phone lines. They are, however, unable to remotely access the power grid and have to physically break into a power hub.
  • Evil Counterpart: Rand is called the "evil McClane" on the film's DVD commentary, since he survives a lot of things for a faceless mook.
  • Fake Kill Scare: Done by McClane to Russo, in order to scare Gabriel who is listening in.
  • Failsafe Failure: The bad guys blow up an entire natural gas facility by routing all the gas to it.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: John McClane uses this trope to kill the Big Bad who is standing behind him, shooting through his own shoulder in the process. Therefore inverting the Human Shield variant.
    Gabriel: (maliciously) "On your tombstone, it should read: 'Always in the wrong place, at the wrong time.'"
    McClane: "How about 'Yippee-ki-yay, Mother- *SHOT* (forces Gabriel to fire his own gun through McClane's shoulder wound, killing Gabriel once and for all)
  • Freudian Excuse: It is revealed that the reason for Gabriel's actions is that he used to work for the NSA, and warned the government the US was vulnerable to the very kind of cyber attacks he ends up committing. However, his concerns fell on deaf ears, and when he tried to continue pressuring them they crucified him: threatening him with life imprisonment and ruining his professional reputation.
  • Friendship Moment: On the way to go rescue Lucy, Farrell apologizes for his unwitting role in Gabriel's plan. McClane reassures him that he has nothing to apologize for.
  • The Generation Gap: As McClane listens to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Farrell complains and regards him as an old fashioned dinosaur for deeming this "classic" ("It's old rock. That doesn't make it classic. What sucked back then still sucks today."). He even tries asking if McClane knows newer bands such as Pearl Jam (who weren't even that recent in 2007).
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Thomas Gabriel mocks McClane this way.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Despite being described in captions as a Social Security Administration building, all other decals and seals present the Woodlawn facility as being run by the fictitious National Data Administration.
  • Guns Akimbo: One of Mai's henchmen carries two pistols in a "New York style reload"; he wields a H&K USP Tactical as a main weapon and a Glock 21 as a backup, plus a knife. After a struggle, John purloins the second pistol by shooting him in the foot and uses it to kill the henchman.
  • Hack the Traffic Lights: the bad guys are able to shut down traffic and other utilities as part of their master plan.
  • Hacker Cave: Most of the assassinated hackers live in them. Hell, a fallen Terminator figurine saves the two main characters. In addition, the Hacker trailer.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Rand hangs from a cable to get McClane's gun... but he ends up hanging in such a way that McClane can kill him.
    • Happens to the Big Bad as well as McClane uses Gabriel's own gun to fatally wound him by shooting Gabriel through his own wounded shoulder.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Skewered by Penny Arcade.
    • Not all of it is unrealistic though, as someone actually did blow up a pipeline via computer way back in 1982. And most (not all) of the hacks are done on systems that the villain himself helped code.
    • Averted when McClane and Matt need to hotwire a car. Rather than use some exaggerated hacking trick, Matt triggers a call to the vehicle's remote assistance and employs social engineering to try and convince the operator on the other end of the call to start the car for them by remote.
  • Hostage Situation: McClane utterly denies Gabriel's attempt to use his daughter, Lucy, against him. By his reasoning, if Gabriel has reached the point where he feels threatening McClane's family to be necessary, then he surely won't act on it because then McClane would have that much more motivation to kill him. Even Lucy refuses to act the part.
  • I Have Your Wife: Gabriel sends some goons to take John's daughter, then threatens her to get Matt to undo his hack, then threatens her and Matt just to fuck with John.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: While Gabriel's French mercenaries seem pretty capable for the most part, their overwatch guy, Rand, is quite possibly the shittiest marksman in the history of armed combat. He repeatedly misses fairly easy shots, then gives up and resorts to blazing away on full auto. He never manages to shoot anyone throughout the movie (McClane's FBI escort being shot by the other guy in the back of the helicopter). While his parkour skills are impressive, God only knows why they employ this guy as a "sniper."
  • Impersonating an Officer:
    • Gabriel and his men acquired the necessary code/algorithms for the "fire sale" by impersonating government officials and contracting various hackers (including Farrell) to write it under the guise of it being used for the totally legal purpose of testing cyber-security.
    • Mai and several other men disguise themselves as FBI agents so they can physically access the utilities site in West Virginia. Another of Gabriel's men uses fake FBI credentials to convince Lucy McClane to come with him.
  • Indy Ploy: McClane's plan in the climax is "Find Lucy, kill everybody else".
  • Invincible Hero: An accusation leveled at this film's depiction of John McClane by many including, of all people, Michael Scott of The Office (US).
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: John's response to Lucy highlighting how crazy he was for shooting himself to kill Gabriel.
  • It's Personal: Gabriel had a more than professional relationship with Mai and is inches from tears when he learns McClane dropped a car on her. He even tells John "You wanna make this personal? Fine.".
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Bowman does not get along with the two arrogant liaisons from DHS and the NSA, especially when they turn up at the FBI's mobile control centre and demand a place to set up shop.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The F-35 scene. The real plane is equipped with a single cannon.
    • However, a Harrier with minimal weapons loadout does have two cannons, and could have done the fancy flying the F-35 did. Except hovering in a Harrier is the most difficult thing to do in any aircraft ever, and because of low engine thrust requires that all air-to-ground munitions and most of the fuel be spent first.
  • Knee-capping: Gabriel shoots Farrell in the leg in order to convince him to undo his hack and give Gabriel his access to the money, then threatens to shoot Lucy.
    Matt: The rules haven't changed. You'll still shoot me the minute I unlock it.
    Gabriel: [bam] In ten seconds, I'll blow her head off. The rules can always change.
  • Knight in Sour Armor:
    John McClane: You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy.
    Matt Farrell: Then why you doing this?
    John McClane: Because there's nobody else to do it right now, that's why. Believe me, if there were somebody else to do it, I'd let them do it, but there's not. So we're doing it.
    Matt Farrell: Ah. That's what makes you that guy.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Farrell, terrified in the aftermath of the opening shootout, asks John if he's done that before (killing people), McClane replies yes, but not for a long time. There were 12 years between this film and the previous.
  • Lighter and Softer: Being the only PG-13 film in the franchise while the rest are R rated.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Lucy is defiant, headstrong, snarky and very able to put a useful fight against her captors.
    Lucy: Look, you're gonna have to dig deep and find a bigger set of balls if we're gonna get out of this.
    Farrell: Wow, I know that tone. It's just weird hearing it come from someone with... hair.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: Justin Long's character impersonates the real owner of the car McClane is trying to jack.
    Matt Farrell: My name... [rummages through glove compartment] is... [finds something] Frank... and my dad's name is... Dvorak... Tsajinsky...
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: The first half of the film involves McClane trying to bring hacker Matt Farrell into the FBI while protecting Matt from the terrorists trying to kill him. Since they're headed to the Feds, at first Matt isn't exactly cooperative.
  • Logo Joke: After the 20th Century Fox opening logo plays, it suddenly "short circuits", causing flickering as the the searchlights fade, climaxing in a total power outage.
  • Made of Iron: McClane plays this straighter than in any previous incarnation, something that a lot of people took offense to.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Averted. There are USB thumb drives. This film came out in 2007 and was one of the first films that use them.
  • Manipulative Editing: The baddies' video message to America mixes together clips from various American presidents to voice their speech.
  • Market-Based Title: The film is known as Die Hard 4.0 in the UK and other parts of Europe.
  • More Dakka: Gabriel is able to commandeer a government F-35 fighter jet to do his bidding, after he hacks into the planes systems and impersonates a military air controller.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Farrell begins to think this when he discovers an algorithm he sold, which he believed was only being used by the government to test cybersecurity, is used by the terrorists as part of their "fire sale".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In the beginning, Lucy can't stand McClane or his piss-poor attempts at being a parent. The two become close in the end, and this lasts into the sequel very much unlike McClane's wife always having enough of him and leaving between movies despite his rescuing her each film, because Gabriel kidnapped her to use her as a bargaining chip. It's kind of hard to hate your dad after he shows just how much he loves you by shooting himself through the chest to kill the guy who's gloating he's going to kill you.
  • Non-Action Guy: Matt. As much as possible, he stays out of combat and sticks to hacking. When he's attacked by Mai, he manages to throw one punch (in a manner that suggests it's the first time in a long time he's tried to punch someone) and then very quickly succumbs.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gabriel shows John a live feed of a girl in an elevator... it's Lucy Gennero.
  • Online Alias: Kevin Smith's character goes by "Warlock".
  • Pac Man Fever: Averted with a friend or roommate of one of the hackers, who is clearly seen playing Gears of War, and he's pressing the buttons in the way a normal player would.
  • Papa Wolf: Don't you dare mess with McClane's daughter.
  • Le Parkour: Used by Rand.
  • Pipe Pain: Farrell kills one of Mai's men by hitting him in the back with a pipe, causing him to fall into an elevator shaft.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted in that Thomas Gabriel's scheme is suppose to incapacitate the police to prevent them from working as easily.
  • Police Code for Everything: McClane ferrets out the fake "police dispatcher" by subverting it: using the wrong police 10-code to describe his situation. When the dispatcher smoothly claims that all units have been dispatched to his code,
    "You mean you had to dispatch all units for the naked people wandering around?"
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: McClane, as per the series tradition. This time he takes it up a notch by describing Mai as a dead "Asian hooker bitch" and then throwing out another half dozen variations on the theme of "bitch", "Asian" and "ninja".
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure/Recognition Failure: McClane fails spectacularly to pass himself off as a member of the nerd culture. Most notably is when he fails to recognize a cutout of Boba Fett and tries to cover it by saying he's only familiar with Star Wars.Note  Though his smirk suggests he's just screwing with them.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: McClane delivers his Catchphrase in this manner to Gabriel at the closing moments of the movie. See Forced Friendly Fire entry above.
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is obviously a "hard version" of the New Hampshire state motto "Live Free Or Die".
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many people claimed there was no way you could use a computer to blow-up a gas line, but that sort of thing actually DID happen in real life back in 1982
    • Many people criticized the bad CGI in the scene where McClane and Farrell dodge a flying car by ducking under two other cars. As you can probably figure out from the trope this is under, there was no CGI involved and they did that stunt for real.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Miguel Bowman.
    • John McClane, for that matter, towards Matt. When Matt explains what happened to the other white-hat hackers, McClane gets it and is understanding and sympathetic when he could easily have been a total hardass about it.
  • Serial Escalation: The indoor car chases, as well as McClane using a car to take out a helicopter. The makers also try to set a new record for "amount of punishment ever inflicted upon an action star without killing him."
    • And then, as if the car-helicopter collision isn't enough, McClane destroys an F-35 with a semi-truck.
  • Running Gag: Every time. Every time. They're not in it for the revolution, they're in it for the money. Gabriel's hacking the planet and shutting down everything that a computer can shut down because he tried to tell them that that could happen! No. He's taking all the money in America.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Taken to a whole new level by the fact that McClane is the hostage; he shoots himself in the shoulder to kill the Big Bad.
    Lucy: Daddy, you shot yourself.
    McClane Yeah, don't tell these guysnote  I did that.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Some of the footage Gabriel watches after his men hack the traffic lights in every major city, particularly one shot of a car running a light and colliding with an armored truck, is digitally altered footage from The Italian Job (2003).
    • McClane shooting a Terminator figurine to blow up one of the bad guys.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: How the film's theatrical cut got to skirt into the PG-13 rating: The latter half of the "motherfucker" line from McClane's Catchphrase -slash- Pre-Mortem One-Liner gets muffled by the gunshot.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Mai Linh might be Dark Action Girl extraordinaire, but McClane has several pounds on her. After taking a barrage of blows from her, McClane knocks her out with a bodyslam followed by two punches.
    • Knockouts don't last long barring serious concussions. After the above when McClane leaves to check up on Matt, Mai gets up and ambushes him.
  • Talking to Themself: John, while taking out a helicopter. Either a Call-Back or Running Gag, given his famous monologue from the first Die Hard movie.
    ...all you gotta pick up a kid... out of Jersey ...and take him down to D.C.! [gets into cop car] How hard can that be, huh? Nah, can't be that hard, can it? [turns on car's lights and sirens] Nah, gotta be a...Senior Detective. [starts speeding down tunnel as a sniper shoots at him from a helicopter] You think if I'm in a traffic jam...throwing a car at me's gonna stop me, huh? [the sniper shoots the car, causing it to light on fire.] Great. Car's on fire. [Jumps out of car just before it goes off of a ramp and crashes into the helicopter, absolutely destroying it.]
  • That's What I Would Do: Invoked. When McClane is temporarily out of ideas/leads he asks Matt what he would do if this was his fire sale.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Matt Farrell is just a kid who's good with computers, and he's not happy about getting dragged into a John McClane level nightmare, but by the end of the story he's John's partner, and he's going to help save the man's daughter. He's just an Action Survivor, but he takes a two story fall, gets up, and fights back.
  • Twerp Sweating: After Lucy expresses an interest in Matt, John makes a point to let him know he appreciates what the kid did, but it will never be okay.
    Matt: I mean, did she say something? Like, I felt like we had a moment.
    McClane: After everything we've been through, I'd hate to have to beat you to death.
  • Waif-Fu: Played with. Mai is a good fighter, relying heavily on ambushing people. She dominates her fight with John for a couple of minutes. Then John declares "Enough of this kung-fu bullshit." and tackles her, then picks her up, and throws her into a bookcase, stunning her for a good moment. Weak, but Skilled doesn't mean much when your opponent has 20 years, 10 inches, and 60 pounds that you don't got.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Lucy tells John that there are five bad guys left, but there were actually six: Gabriel, Emerson (who captured Farrell), Rand (the French acrobat), Trey (the lead hacker), Robinson the truck driver, and the Mook who gunned down the hackers Gabriel didn't need.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Gabriel manipulates multiple hackers to write the codes he uses, and murders them once he has what he needs. Later in the film he has all but his top hacker killed.


Video Example(s):


Live Free or Die Hard

The searchlights go out due to a power outage, leaving the structure as a dark silhouette.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / LogoJoke

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