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He Said, She Said Review Site

Die Hard

What She Said:


 I know action films are sort of a man’s thing, but I thought I’d appease my husband and go see this flick at our local classic movie theatre the night before New Year’s Eve.  As many would know, Die Hard has developed a cult following as an action/holiday movie.  It’s the film that started the whole Bruce Willis franchise, and one that will keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. 

Die Hard Poster
Released in 1988, when I was obviously too young to see it, the movie tells the story of John McClane, just your average New  York City police officer traveling across the U.S. to visit his estranged wife, Holly, and family in L.A. for the holidays.  He’s really your blue collar, sweat and grease, workin’ hard type.  Anyway, he’s meeting his wife at her company’s holiday gala at some big fancy new building (it’s actually still partially under construction).  But, things take an exciting turn when a group of thieves/terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), storm the building and take everyone hostage.  This is all in an attempt to steal a bunch of money from the owner of the place, Joseph Takagi.  This group of bandits is the best of the best.  They’re big, skilled with weapons, well trained, and merciless.  They’re also quite funny at times.  McClane, who was overlooked by the group when they took over the building, stealthily attempts to free the hostages and take down the terrorists.  One man vs. more than a dozen.  A classic story.

It’s amazing to watch McClane in action.  He’s no Schwarzenegger or Stallone—just your average Joe—and so he really takes a beating.  But he’s smart, and he’s got heart, so he is, of course, victorious.  His interactions with Gruber can be very funny, as they truly are two men with lots of pride facing off.  The movie, not surprisingly, screams 1980s, but it’s timeless in enjoyment and excitement.  It’s nice to see Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman much earlier in their careers.  Die Hard is a lot of fun, and was also great to see on the big screen.  A nice holiday treat.

Thumbs up.






What He Said:


Die Hard was sort of responsible for establishing Bruce Willis’ career. Yes, he had been in Moonlighting for a few years prior, and it was a hit, but Die Hard brought his career to another level. It launched him into stardom and showed that he was capable of playing both tough and funny, as well as carry a movie.

Die Hard is a classic 80s action movie that has become synonymous with the holiday season. It’s not technically about Christmas, but it's an action movie that takes place during the Christmas season. This may sound really bizarre for someone who hasn’t seen it, but it works and makes it a must see during the holiday season. There are enough jokes and references to the holidays that despite being an action flick, it really does feel like a Christmas movie.

There are two main reasons this movie really works.  

Die Hard
First of all, there’s really something to be said about the John McClane character. He’s working man tough. He’s not the kind of guy you’d find spending hours in a gym punmmping iron. He’s not Jason Bourne either; meaning he's not a trained killer. He’s a blue collar, do it the hard way kind of guy. His personal life is something of a mess, but professionally speaking the guy is a master. Sure, it may not always look pretty, but the guy gets the job done; and often gets his ass absolutely handed to him while doing it. That's not to say he can't dish it out, but he'll never outclass his opponent. But that’s what we’ve come to love about him. He’s not some human weapon who mows through bad guys with ease. He’s just a dedicated – if not somewhat obsessed with the job – guy who loves being a cop; even if he thinks it's a pain in the ass. He is the exact opposite of the guys he goes up against.

Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his men are highly trained professionals. They are well-trained, efficient, and no-nonsense kind of guys. They always have a plan and when that plan doesn’t go their way, they are very quick on their feet. Most of them are also highly trained former military. These guys can FIGHT.

Seeing this clash of styles is highly entertaining. It's backbone of the movie. For once, there’s an action hero who isn’t a former black ops agent or looks like Arnold or Stallone. He’s extremely flawed, the complete opposite of indestructible, and very relatable.

The other highly successful component of this movie is its humor. Just about all action movies have a funny moment or two, but this movie is simply brilliant in that sense. The banter between them works so well. Rickman’s character is a very white collar thief. He takes pride in his planning and skills and McClane essentiall responds with "Fuck you" ever time.  It’s like watching the Odd Couple, but only if you pitted them against one another instead of making them a team. It's very amusing. 

Paul Gleason (the jerky teacher from The Breakfast Club) is hilarious as the hard-headed, if not downright stupid, Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson. Imagine a character that is every bit as an ass as his character in The Breakfast Club, but this one actually has some real authority.

Even actors in the smaller roles are amusing. Reginald VelJohnson (AKA Carl Winslow) is fantastic in his supporting role. The character doesn’t really do a whole lot physically, but manages to successfully entertain you as he’s along for the ride with McClane the whole time. He brings the heart too. Just look at their faces and listen to the music when they meet. It's so emotional, especially for an action movie. Then when Al saves John and his wife? It's so fucking triumphant

Hell you can even throw in the guys who play Argyle, the asshole FBI agents (Agent Johnsons, ha!), and the jerk reporter  who is the same guy who plays the dick in Ghostbusters). William Atherton had a great run playing King Asshole in many a movie in the 80s.  I would be doing the actor a huge disservice if I did not mention Hart Bochner's performance as Ellis, the coke-snorting hot shot salesman. It's a shame this guy didn't get more work in similar roles, because he absolutely nailed it. There’s really a lot of nice little pieces to the movie in that sense.

I watched this movie on Christmas Day this year. It was a great way to celebrate both the holiday and an excellent movie.

Rating: Thumbs up.

 This review was written for you A WHILE AGO, but recently updated on January 5, 2020.