Live Free or Die Hard: Hacker's Hash Recipe

Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
(PG-13, 130 min.)

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." Mark Twain

He’s back! Bald but bad as ever, the reluctant New York cop is again in the wrong place at the wrong time, but grossly underestimated by the suavely arrogant cyber villain who has accounted for all possibilities except this crusty relic.

Like its hero, an “old school analog fly in the digital ointment,” Live Free or Die Hard is determinedly low tech – all the over the top special effects but one are done the old fashioned way, with death defying stunt men, including Willis, doing the heavy lifting. Though he’s divorced and reduced to stalking his college age daughter to save her from any ill-conceived amorous adventures – a task the feisty Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seems quite capable of handling herself, the cantankerous cop has not lost his sense of humor: to wit the highly publicized, “I was out of bullets,” explanation for using his airborne car to intercept the bad guy’s chopper.

A few critics and some overly fussy fans have complained about thin character development, as though we go to testosterone-charged action flicks to analyze the inner psyche of our protagonist or his evil nemesis. Instead, the film assumes John McClane’s well-defined rebellious cop, good at his job but not his marriage, is familiar enough to fans so that they no longer require the full introduction. His estrangement from Lucy, who has followed her mother’s example and substituted her maiden name for the McClane moniker, is more effective than a soap opera recital of the final breakup. That and a terse reference to divorce and to dinners alone tell us enough.

Some have argued that the coldly calculating cyber villain Thomas Gabriel can’t even begin to fill the shoes of nefarious Hans Gruber or his sadistic brother Peter Krieg, veterans from earlier Diehards. Or that the film’s self righteous hacker is not in the same league with former film "buddy" Sanmuel L. Jackson, but that’s asking a lot, I would say. Perhaps these more androgynous characters and the largely ineffective Washington bureaucracy in this film are emblematic of the current high tech world, where a macho man is seen as “a Timex in a digital world.” John McClane and 52 year old Bruce Willis refuse to go quietly into the night, ripping back their relevance with a firmly clenched fist, perhaps a bit scarred and arthritic, but effective all the same.

Now to the plausibility angle. Our villain here is a former security expert whose warnings about the vulnerabilities of government cyber security have gone unheeded. While most of these rejected geniuses merely write books trashing the current administration, hit the TV talk show circuit, and collect the cash, our villain is more vindictive. Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his cadre of computer geeks and hackers have coolly embarked on a “fire sale” as short for an “everything goes” shutdown of the entire computer security network of the federal government.

To do this he has employed the expert assistance of assorted computer nerds who put hacking into the government’s security system up there with a night with Paris Hilton or acquiring the complete set of Star Wars action figures, take your pick. Only they have been deceived into thinking this is purely for government oversight purposes, and are innocent geek geniuses right up until the moment their computers explode in their faces once their services are no longer needed.

Matt Farrell (Justin Long) is one such scruffy geek saved from this ignominious end by John McClane’s three AM knock on his door, the police detective having been ordered to take the boy to DC for questioning along with other known hackers. It doesn’t take our cyber villains very long to change their software “deletes” into hardware versions, these being in the form of well-muscled Frenchmen whose soft Parisian vowels are accompanied by some very large and well-oiled semi-automatic weapons, which quickly turn everything but Matt and McClane into so much dust and debris.

Except for the fact that this security breach is just a little too easy – we aren’t, in fact, quite that vulnerable –the plot is sound enough. We do have one encounter between a semi truck and an F 35 jet that strains the credibility, but it’s a great sequence nonetheless.

So do not, like his mostly dead adversaries, underestimate the staying power of John McClane, Bruce Willis, or the now resuscitated Die Hard franchise.

"Yippee Ki Yay!"

—Kathy Borich

Film-Loving Foodie

There’s not much time to eat, what with exploding computers, choppers, and the entire Northeastern Electrical Hub sizzling, but that doesn’t keep the slacker hacker Justin from whining about his empty stomach. Upon his arrival at the government headquarters, a portable building filled with panicked bureaucrats trying desperately to save the world, he asks for a snack.

And while he and McClane are furiously rushing across town through the deadliest traffic jam in history, he begs to jump out at the local Arby’s, if for nothing else, to scrounge a few ketchup pouches.

Fellow hacker, Warlock, but just Freddy to the nagging mom who lets him hang out in her basement, doesn’t look as though he has missed many meals though. And his house, humble as it may be, is the only one with lights on in the entire city. So he could easily power up the stove and put together this little meal based mainly on canned corned beef hash and bagged shredded hash browns. And it makes ten servings. I mean he could hang out in his nerdpad for almost a week without sending out for pizza.

Hacker's Hash 

Ingredients

  • 1 can corned beef hash
  • 1 bag shredded hash brown potatoes - thawed 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp onion salt (optional)
  • 1/2 loaf bread, cubed
  • 2 green onions - chopped
  • 1/2cup red, green, yellow peppers chopped and microwaved to soften
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mixed cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 tomato-chopped
  • 8 eggs – beaten with half & half
  • 2 1/4 cups half & half
  • Dried cilantro flakes 

Directions

Spray 9x12 pan with cooking spray
Spread corned beef hash on bottom of pan
Stir butter and onion salt with hash browns
Spread mixture over corned beef hash
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes - Cool
Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese over potatoes
Top with cubed bread
Top with remaining 1cup cheddar cheese
Sprinkle with peppers, onion and tomato
Sprinkle with mixed cheeses and cilantro
Pour egg mixture over all, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake at 350 degrees 1/2 hour covered and 1/2 hour uncovered
Let sit 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with Tabasco sauce. Makes 10 servings.

Recipe Source: White Lace Inn