Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Ave, Chris Stuckmann!

YouTube movie critic Chris Stuckmann recently reviewed "Live Free or Die Hard," the fourth installment in the Die Hard series, and the first to have a watered-down PG-13 rating in the US, much to the disappointment of viewers who had gotten used to R-rated violence and dialogue. Stuckmann, who reviewed the unrated version of the movie (which reincorporates all the bad language and bloody gunshot wounds and allows John McClane to say his trademark naughty line in full), was remarkably positive about the experience. What caught my ear, though, was the fact that an unrated version of "Live Free or Die Hard" even existed. According to Stuckmann, the unrated copy was hard to track down, but when I went on Amazon, I found it right away on Amazon Prime Video and bought that puppy.

I reviewed the PG-13 version long ago (see here), back before I had hit my stride and found my voice as a movie reviewer. Having just rewatched the movie this past weekend, and with Chris Stuckmann's insights in mind, I watched the movie with fresh eyes and, lo and behold, found it to be much better than when I'd first seen it. Like Stuckmann, I enjoyed the unrated version far more than the emasculated PG-13 version: John McClane feels more like John McClane in this one, and that basic change allows you to sit back and enjoy the movie's other qualities, including the evolving interplay between the very digital Matt Farrell (Justin Long) and the very analog McClane. There's also a major line change: in the theatrical version, after McClane uses a car to take out a helicopter, he justifies this by quipping, "I ran outta bullets." I always found that to be a dumb line. In the unrated version, McClane callously quips, "Hundreds of thousands of people die from car accidents every year. That was just, like, four more." The hilarious coldness of the new line made me laugh out loud.

Chris Stuckmann, like a lot of my YouTube favorites, is mainly stuck at home (truly a Stuck Man—harharokaythatwasfuckinglame), so he's been reviewing some classic movies that have been sitting on his shelf, which is how he ended up reviewing "Live Free or Die Hard." I'm glad he did. For me, the rewatch was worth it.

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