Home > Reviews > LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD – Marco Beltrami

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD – Marco Beltrami

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A rather belated fourth entry into the Die Hard franchise, 12 years after the last installment (Die Hard With a Vengeance), Live Free or Die Hard sees Bruce Willis back as John McClane in the role which made him an 80s action star. Here, McClane is an aging NYPD cop with a teenage daughter who is forced to do battle against an Internet-based terrorist organization who is systematically shutting down the technological capabilities of the entire United States, plunging the country into crisis.

The film also stars Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long and Hong Kong action star Maggie Q, and features a bombastic score from Marco Beltrami. The late, great Michael Kamen’s musical fingerprints were all over the first three movies in the Die Hard franchise, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Beltrami has tried to remain respectful to Kamen’s musical legacy (notably through his use of certain rhythms and textures which those familiar with Kamen’s work will recognize), while putting his own spin onto things.

For all intents and purposes, Live Free or Die Hard is a non-stop action and suspense score; almost every cue is an exercise on aggressive rhythmic orchestral writing, with heavy emphasis on thrusting string ostinati, low brasses, an almost limitless amount of varied percussion, and occasionally a noticeably beefed-up electronic element. Cues such as “Traffic Jam”, “Copter Chase”, “Hurry Up” and “The F-35” are really very impressive indeed, and stand as great examples of some of the best pure action music composed anywhere in 2007.

Elsewhere, Beltrami adds to the tension with cues like “Farrell to D.C”, doggedly exiting suspense writing that provides brief moments of downtime in between the action set pieces. Actually, the problem with album as a whole is that there’s no breathing room. The score starts with an action cue, ends with an action cue, and has a whole load of action cues in the middle, leaving the album a curiously unsatisfying listening experience that could be quite an endurance test for the under-prepared.

The qualify of writing cannot be faulted, nor can the pains Beltrami took to ensure that his music inhabits the sonic world created by Kamen for the first three films, but by the end of it all, sitting and listening to the CD is quite exhausting.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Out of Bullets (1:08)
  • Shootout (3:41)
  • Leaving the Apartment (2:08)
  • Dead Hackers (1:31)
  • Traffic Jam (4:13)
  • It’s a Fire Sale (2:57)
  • The Break-In (2:28)
  • Farrell to D.C. (4:36)
  • Copter Chase (4:41)
  • Blackout (2:03)
  • Illegal Broadcast (3:48)
  • Hurry Up! (1:23)
  • The Power Plant (2:01)
  • Landing (2:28)
  • Cold Cuts (2:00)
  • Yippee Ki Yay (4:43)
  • Break a Neck (2:47)
  • Farrell is In (4:22)
  • The F-35 (4:13)
  • Aftermath (3:12)
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2:56)

Running Time: 63 minutes 19 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6824 92007)

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