After doing an above-average job with a romantic lead role in Catch and Release, Timothy Olyphant is back wearing his evil-and-dangerous mask in Live Free or Die Hard. One-trick-pony villains embody the very essence of movie boredom, and Olyphant has always been a multi-colored performer — a witty darkman with a touch of perversity, a clever kidder, an existential tightrope walker, an absurdist comedian.
I haven’t seen every last Olyphant performance, but his drug-dealer character in Go is, to my mind, still the best thing he’s ever done. He’s been fine in a lot of things since (I liked his work in Deadwood), but he’s never played anyone as darkly brilliant and funny and surprisingly vulnerable as Todd Gaines, the bare-chested wise ass with the Santa Claus cap and the ecstasy tabs. That character was written and performed with just the right balance and attitude.