Banner

Die Hard

Die Hard

What She said:

She

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. 

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:

He

Die Hard was sort of responsible for establishing Bruce Willis’ career. Yes, he had been acting prior to starring in it, but Die Hard was his “breakout season” if you will. It launched him into stardom and showed that he was capable of playing but tough and funny; something which he would do the rest of his career.

Die Hard is a classic 80s action movie that has become synonymous with the holiday season. It’s not technically a “Christmas movie”, but 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. There are enough jokes and references to the holidays that despite being an action flick, it’s become one of those movies that I feel like I have to see every holiday season or two.

There are two main reasons this movie really works.  

First of all, there’s some really something to be said about the John McClane character. He’s not the biggest guy in the world. He’s also not the guy of guy you’d find spending hours in a gym sculpting his body to the point of perfection. He’s not Jason Bourne either. 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 sometimes gets his ass kicked in doing it. 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 stubborn – guy who loves his job. 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.

Seeing this clash of styles is highly entertaining. It is really the backbone of the movie. For once, there’s an action hero who isn’t a former black ops agent. He’s extremely flawed, the completely 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. The banter between them works so well. Rickman’s character takes pride in his professionalism and Willis’ could care less how he gets the job done; as long as it gets done. It’s like watching the Odd Couple, but only if you pitted them against one another instead of making them a team.

Paul Gleason (the jerky teacher from The Breakfast Club) is hilarious as the hard-headed 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.

Hell you can even throw in the guys who play Argyle, the FBI agents, and the jerk reporter (also the same guy who plays a jerk in Ghostbusters). And I would be doing the actor a huge disservice if I did not mention Hart Bochner's performance as Ellis. 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.

When you combine all that with the fact that I had the opportunity to see it on the big screen for the first time ever (I was 8 when this was in theaters), I’m one happy camper.  A local historical theatre recently showed this as one of its cult classics. *Fun movie fact* The theatre where we saw this movie is the same one where this famous scene from The Blob (1958) was filmed.

It was just a great all-around experience.

Rating: Thumbs up.