Franchises of All Time
The 'Die Hard' Films
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Die Hard Films
Die Hard (1988) | Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) | Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)
Live Free or Die Hard (2007) | A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Film Plot Summary
The film opened with a successful computer hacking by 20-ish cyber-geek hacker and code writer Matthew "Matt" Farrell (Justin Long) (and other anonymous geeks) into government files - including the FBI, Federal Reserve, etc., and sending the code to Mai Linh (Maggie Q) - who claimed it was only a security systems test. The hackers received $50,000 in exchange - but then they were being murdered in their homes by implanted computer explosives when they pressed the 'delete' key (soon after, seven hackers were discovered dead).
The action then moved to the FBI Cyber-Security Division in Washington, DC, where the employees' computers were powered down - an "intentional breach" caused by Mai Linh. Orders were sent out to round up and interview all possible computer hackers throughout the country who might conceivably be responsible, around the time of the 4th of July weekend.
In another scene, overprotective, aging, balding father and sarcastic blue-collar NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) interrupted a car necking session between his Rutgers University student and estranged daughter Lucy Gennero-McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her boyfriend Jim. Divorced, McClane was stalking and spying on Lucy, and she was attempting to entirely avoid him (and she refused to use his last name), as she cried out: "You are such an asshole." After she returned to her room, he received a phone call from a former boss -- the Feds had called in a favor requesting McClane, a senior detective, to pick up a "computer hacker" named Matthew Farrell (code-named F4RR3LL), in nearby Camden, New Jersey, and escort him to the Hoover Building in D.C.
McClane's late-night, unexpected arrival at Farrell's apartment door interrupted the triggered explosion of an uploaded virus into Farrell's computer (detonated with the Delete key). The assassins' Plan B was to literally murder Farrell - causing McClane to calmly counter-attack and kill three of the five snipers as they assaulted the apartment with massive gunfire - the scene ended with the destruction of the apartment when the Delete key was activated by a falling object onto the keyboard. McClane deduced that the men were there to kill Farrell (as McClane elucidated: "You're the criminal").
The instigator of the cyberplot was menacing, techno-terrorist computer programmer Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), Mai's boss and lover, who ordered a helicopter with armed gunmen to trace Farrell's route as he was driven by McClane into Washington, DC to the FBI building. Stage One of Gabriel's objectives was to take over the city's transportation hubs - including the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), with its grid of traffic signals and cameras - causing multiple car crashes, collisions and snarled traffic at busy intersections ("All the lights are green"). Soon, it became apparent that there was a burgeoning transportation meltdown throughout the entire country (on rail systems including Chicago's El trains, on Amtrak, and within the FAA's ATC system, etc.). Overwhelmed FBI Deputy Director Miguel Bowman (Cliff Curtis) surmised: "We're under attack." Gabriel also sabotaged homeland security with a simulated anthrax scare in government buildings, provoking evacuations of all bureaucratic offices and the dispatching of Haz-Mat forces.
Stage Two of the plot was to take control of Wall Street's stock market and other financial sectors, precipitating a panic and selling frenzy. Gabriel also ordered: "Prep the video package." "Neck-deep in damage control," Bowman also was coordinating a counter-offensive: "Somewhere, somebody left a digital fingerprint. Find it." Once Farrell arrived at FBI headquarters with McClane, he suspected that the widespread terrorist attacks were caused by major infrastructure computer security grid malfunctions. Gabriel hijacked cable news and broadcast an unauthorized faked video on the 4th of July to induce fear - a ransom note-styled montage of speeches of US presidents: "It is time to strike fear into the hearts of citizenry..." Farrell hypothesized about the attack: "Jesus Christ, it's a fire-sale..It's a three-step systematic attack on the entire national infrastructure...everything must go" - the three components were transportation, the financial base and telecoms, and the utilities (gas, water, electric, nuclear). McClane added that professional killers were dispatched to kill Farrell - "It's obviously got something to do with whatever is going on here" - and it appeared crucial to discover what Farrell knew about the attacks.
While a convoy of two FBI vehicles escorted McClane and Farrell to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), they were traced by Mai Linh's computers. Farrell admitted that the other seven dead hackers were his "competition" in a 'game' to help a software firm crack a "mutating encryption algorithm." He claimed: "I had no idea I was gonna be an accessory to-to-to Armageddon." Posing as a dispatcher at FBI headquarters, Mai Linh directed the two cars to a different location, as McClane discovered the deception with a trick question, and spoke directly to Gabriel by radio. The mastermind had learned all about McClane's background and computer files (and wiped out his financial 401K). He financially bribed McClane to kill Farrell, and sneered at the digitally-challenged cop: "You're a Timex watch in a digital age. You're gonna lose." Then, Gabriel's helicopter attacked with gunfire. During the intense firefight, McClane raced his borrowed police car through the streets to evade the machine-gun blasts from the chopper, and found refuge in a tollbooth tunnel, although the bad guys redirected traffic to approach from both directions - to destructively collide in the middle in a major pileup. McClane sailed or launched his police car up into the air from the tollbooth at the tunnel's entrance (after diving from the driver's seat) to crash into the airborne helicopter - prompting an explosive fireball. Afterwards, McClane boasted to Farrell: "Pretty lucky shot, huh?" - Farrell replied: "You just killed a helicopter with a car!", to which McClane quipped: "I was out of bullets...I'm getting too old to jump out of cars."
The crazed Gabriel mistakenly believed that the two had died in the tunnel, and then ordered the beginning of Stage Three - the take-over of the National Data Administration's (NDA) major servers in Woodlawn, Maryland (outside of Baltimore). This was the unlikely but secure location of the Social Security Administration, where his men proceeded to download multiple files for exploitative use. McClane and Farrell found chaos rampant in the Metropolitan Police Department offices, as Mai Linh (impersonating an FBI agent) was helicoptered away - to the Eastern Power Hub (West Virginia). Another video was broadcast on all TV channels by Gabriel - it was a news report about the demolition of the US Capital building, with the tagline: "What If This Is Just the Beginning? What If You're Hurt and Alone and You Dial 911 and No One Answers? What If Help Will Never Come?" - McClane phoned Bowman to tell him that the blast was not real: "It's a fake!", but a panic had already been created, as wireless cell-phone and landline networks were being deactivated. Farrell declared: "This is virtual terrorism," and thought about what would be the next target in the "fire-sale" he had forecast -- he believed that the next target would be the closed-circuit security system of the Eastern hub of the power-grid (located at Middleton, West Virginia, where Mai Linh had been flown), in order to wipe out all power to the Eastern third of the nation.
McClane and Farrell stole an abandoned car (after Farrell cleverly impersonated a passenger who needed the car remotely started by OnStar) and began driving there, as Mai Linh and her "FBI agent" henchmen arrived at the Middleton Power facility and gained access to the 4th Floor's Central Control Room and its computer systems to shut down the power grid. Meanwhile, Bowman learned that the terrorists were communicating by mobile means, using a semi-trailer rig on the move filled with computers and his own hackers. McClane confronted Mai Linh in the control room, and engaged in an extended martial-arts fight and life-and-death struggle with her ("That's enough of this kung-fu shit") - he eventually killed her when she was trapped in a vehicle that crashed in a fireball down an elevator shaft, after he had eliminated the remainder of her henchmen. Farrell attempted to reverse the deactivation of the power system on the East Coast, although the terrorists had already taken over the Western and Central power hubs. When Gabriel called to check on his girlfriend Mai, McClane answered with this taunt: "Little Asian chick, likes to kick people? I don't think she's gonna be talking to anybody for a really long time...Listen jackass, your fire sale's over." At the same time, Farrell took a video web-cam screenshot of Gabriel - and transmitted it to Bowman who recognized his former colleague. In the past, Gabriel had been spurned by his government department for reporting problems after 9/11: "He was DOD's chief programmer for infrastructure security." To retaliate for his girlfriend's death, Gabriel ordered the rerouting of natural gas in the pipelines to converge at the WV station. McClane and Farrell immediately evacuated the control room before it exploded, as a massive power outage occurred on the Eastern seaboard.
Farrell proposed going to the Baltimore house of his friend the "Warlock" for help - Frederick Kaludis (Kevin Smith) - a "digital Jedi." They stole the bad guys' helicopter to fly there with McClane piloting it (and admitting he hadn't completed his flying course), and identified the Warlock's well-lit house - the only one with its own power generators. According to the suspicious Warlock in his command-center basement, the former NSA cyber-criminal Thomas Gabriel demonstrated his expert hacking power to the Joint Chiefs of Staff four years earlier by shutting down NORAD with a laptop computer, but since then, "he just fell off the grid" after being fired and smeared. Farrell asked the Warlock to retrieve the "mutating algorithmic security code" that he had created for Gabriel, and to find out how it was being used. It was found to be located in use solely at the Social Security Administration, in the NDA vault at Woodlawn, Maryland, to keep the generators cooled during the extensive download procedure. Kaludis hacked into the Woodlawn facility. To strike back, Gabriel located McClane's daughter - trapped in a stuck elevator during the power outage (and viewed in a webcam security camera), and threatened to seize her as a hostage. McClane was enraged by Gabriel: "I'm gonna go kill this guy and get my daughter," and drove off to Woodlawn (near Baltimore), reluctantly letting Farrell join him. To cover his tracks, Gabriel ordered the killing of his own computer hackers in the mobile tractor-trailer rig.
At Woodlawn, McClane and Farrell gained access through an exterior vent, as McClane explained his plan: "Find Lucy and kill everybody else." They proceeded to the lower part of the facility, the location of the chilling towers. Farrell shut down three of the turbines, tripping a security alarm that he hoped would alert Bowman and an FBI response team. Bowman was told that Woodlawn was a secure facility, used as a "fail-safe" after 9/11 to back up all the country's financial information. When the computer systems networks were hit and taken down by Gabriel, all of their financial information was downloaded to Woodlawn's servers, including data from "banks, Wall Street, corporate records, government funds" - "a backup for the accumulated wealth of America." It was thought Gabriel could gain access and transfer the data to a portable hard drive, so that he could use the data for his own personal greed ("siphon off billions for himself"). Gabriel had designed the facility when he was working at NSA: "It was his program," and he knew that hacking the system's networks would trigger the complete download.
Both McClane and Farrell were targeted for elimination by Gabriel - although Farrell gained access to the main computer vault (using his own algorithm) and was able to encrypt the 100% downloaded data, in order to block access to it, just before being captured at gunpoint. The vengeful Gabriel vowed to McClane as he held his daughter hostage, about how he had tried to warn the government when he cried foul about the nation's hackable computer systems: "I'm the good guy here. I told them this could happen if they didn't prepare. Did I get a thank-you? No, I got crucified. But they wouldn't listen...I am doing the country a favor....Everything I've broken can be fixed if the country is willing to pay for it." Gabriel then used Lucy as a "bargaining chip" - and he took her with him, as well as Farrell, as he left the building in a small Haz-mat truck, followed by the semi-trailer-rig carrying the portable computer control center. An F-35 fighter jet was on its way, sent by the Pentagon, along with numerous other helicopters. McClane fought off another murder attempt in the building, and then lept onto the top of the semi rig to pursue them - he killed the driver of the truck and then hijacked it. By CB-radio, McClane contacted the Warlock, to request a patch-link through to the FBI and Bowman. He was able to speak to Bowman, and informed him of Gabriel's updated location on the 695 interstate, headed north in a Haz-mat truck.
Gabriel instructed his final remaining computer hacker named Trey (Jonathan Sadowski) to hack into the computer go-codes of the F-35 fighter jet, and to communicate the location of the "terrorist vehicle" - misinforming the jet pilot that the "big rig truck" was the confirmed target, and that he was "authorized to confirm and destroy." As the freeway above him collapsed from the jet's assault by missiles, McClane screamed: "You're shooting at the wrong guy." After a second missile missed, McClane taunted: "Is that your best shot?!" Falling debris from the overhead collapsing highway crippled the jet's engine, and caused the pilot to eject, as McClane fell onto the wing of the spinning aircraft from a destroyed ramp on an incline - he miraculously survived when he jumped to safety as it exploded upon impact. McClane tracked Gabriel's van to a nearby warehouse, where the villain had wounded Farrell in the leg and was further threatening to kill Lucy in 10 seconds if Farrell didn't unlock the encryption codes on the downloaded files.
McClane entered the warehouse and shot the computer hacker and another henchman, while Gabriel still held his daughter as hostage. Shot and wounded by Gabriel, McClane was groaning on the floor, while Lucy vainly attempted to free herself and help her father. Gabriel threatened the downed McClane: "I know the lights are beginning to dim, but if you could just hang on for a second, as soon as Matt's finished, I'm gonna kill him and your daughter and I would love for you to see that." Matt promised ten seconds longer, as Gabriel told McClane as he stood behind him, with his gun pointed into his wounded shoulder, what his epitaph would be: "On your tombstone, it should read: 'Always in the wrong place at the wrong time.'" McClane replied: "How about...'Yippee-ki-yay, motherfu---!'" as he pulled the trigger, killing Gabriel as he took a bullet through his own body. At the same moment, Matt shot and killed the last henchman. Sobbing, Lucy was reunited with her dad, as she told him: "I knew you would come for me" - and she regarded herself now as a McClane. The FBI response team arrived with Bowman in charge and took control. Lucy told her father: "You're out of your mind...You shot yourself."
Both McClane and Farrell were treated by medics for gunshot wounds - McClane told Farrell that he had received a "merit badge" and also that "chicks dig scars." But when Matt looked toward Lucy's direction, McClane added: "Don't even think about it...Besides, after all we've been through, I'd hate to have to beat you to death." However, he was appreciative too: "Thanks for saving my daughter's life." Shortly after, Lucy asked her dad about Matt: "Did he say anything about me?" - and he again expressed his exasperation with their interest in each other: "I'm in enough pain already," as they were taken to the hospital.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
This noisy fourth film, set in Washington DC, was a summer blockbuster replete with non-stop gun battles, chase scenes, car crashes, and explosions. Based on the article 'A Farewell to Arms" by John Carlin.
From a production budget of approximately $110 million, the film's box-office was $134 million (domestic) and $383 million (worldwide).
The first 'Die Hard' film with a PG-13 rating (and not R-rated).
Willis negotiated a $25-million paycheck plus 25% percent of the gross receipts for his participation.
The next film in the long-running series was A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), which did the least amount of domestic box-office in the 5-film franchise.
Matthew "Matt" Farrell
FBI Deputy Dir. Miguel Bowman
(Mary Elizabeth Winstead)
Frederick "Warlock" Kaludis
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office