the actual line is "You're a Timex watch in a digital age." Mine's better.) McClane's skill set, his persona—all are threatened by the new world order—but not necessarily the one you're thinking of. Even for an action film, Live Free or Die Hard's political imagination is stunted, like a libertarian's (the film's title is an extremely apposite one). The first Die Hard didn't require much in the way of geopolitical awareness either (just a lucre-driven Hans Gruber), but in Live Free or Die Hard, it's just taken for granted not only that America is the world, but that even its government exists largely to get confused and toyed with by unstoppable criminal masterminds.
The film's engagement with politics may be blunt and uninspired, but it is almost metafictional in its overt engagements with the action film genre (and I mean that as a compliment). There is a competitiveness in the film, a desire to top not so much the first three Die Hard films as to best other action-film spectaculars of the past three or four years (particularly Transformers). The picture above depicts the film's most naked (and successful) effort to produce a special effect that exists as nothing but oneupmanship. In the film, the maneuver John McClane makes to produce this car-helicopter collision is not entirely gratuitous (the helicopter is a threat), but it is also enormously clear that McClane thinks of propelling a car into it before anything else, like running away. It's exactly what will make him—and us—go "wow!" and so he does it. This is why one goes to see films like this.
But what fascinates me about Live Free or Die Hard is that the comparisons it begs are not to the Jason Bourne films or the Daniel Craig Bond films—which might be the natural comparisons (ostensibly "real" action heroes with no superpowers, no supervillains, not terribly reliant on gadgets, heavy emphasis on toughness)—but rather to what became the decade's go-to trope of the superhero genre—the fear of obsolescence, of a public genuinely uninterested in heroics. Hancock, The Incredibles, Watchmen (obviously, in comic form, the origin of this trope), The Dark Knight. McClane isn't really in danger of being pushed into involuntary retirement or protested against by the benighted citizenry, but there is more than token resistance on the part of everyone involved to the idea that heroics are still viable, and McClane himself has a sort of heavy-handed line about heroes no longer being appreciated.
This conflict goes deeper, however, than superficial thematics—the film itself plays out a constant tension between wanting to make the computer hacking stuff actually seem threatening, the wave of the future, etc., and not completely making McClane seem obsolete through making the computer stuff compelling. The film's effects are a question aimed at the audience—aren't you sick of CGI? or is that what you really want, more hypertrophied toys and dancing pixels? But then again, the film admits, computers are pretty cool. Did you see that helicopter blow up? We can't do that without computers.
It is a productive tension—in this film at least, and it pays off, surprisingly, in political terms, turning what could have been an extremely reactionary film into a sort of qualified rejection of nostalgia. Yes, Live Free or Die Hard is a libertarian fantasy and an analog finger in the digital eye, but the film's basic conservatism isn't ultimately resentful, much less revanchist, as so much of the conservative movement is today. McClane is not aggrieved by the prospect of his obsolescence, he doesn't play the "I'm just taking my country back" tea-bagger tune. He's just happy that heroics are still called for once in awhile; he's just delighted he's got another shot at blowing up helicopters with cars.