Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)
John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
Being born in the 1980’s makes me a kid of the John Wayne of my time, Arnold, Stalone, Van Dam, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Willis were the actors I wouldn’t miss a film. The later who played the character of Officer John McClane was my favorite; I remember very well that the first time I got to a Theatre by myself was for the opening night of Die Hard: With a Vengeance in Sorel. The first film of the franchise, Die Hard, is a game changer movie that even ranks third in the Top 10 of Christmas movies I cumulated for this December. Without much further ramblings about myself here’s my a little enthusiastic review of this Action Film classic.
Coming from New York where he is a cop, John McClane (Bruce Willis) father of two and husband of Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedelia) arrives in Los Angeles to celebrate the Holidays with his family. One the same night of his arrival, the multinational office of Holly holds its Christmas party and a group of multinational terrorists plans to hold the Nakatomi Plaza in hostage until they crack up the safe and get all the money. Since McClane is such a good guy he will fight the terrorists by himself and save his wife from the hands of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). As a moral support, McClane has a LA cop (Reginald VelJohnson) on the radio.
Mixing the elements of the Action films of the 1980’s, a genre that brought violence, guns, muscles, and testosterone to the screen in forms that aren’t always out of the mediocrity of the acting and the stupidity of the plot involved. It brought the grit and guts of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood at a level that only action is interesting and that the plot and character evolution is not even taken care. One of the most important figures of this movement is director John Woo with his films with Tony Leung The Killer and Hard Boiled. But it is from Hong Kong that these two men did their best work. As for what it is of America we found heroes that are one-dimensional and villains so stupid that they are obviously going to get killed. Die Hard represented a revolution in the Thriller/Action Film, its hero is human he bleeds, he is vulnerable, he gets mad, he swears, and he is some kind of a regular cop and not the greatest man who ever lived. He is not a role model neither the perfect husband but he is like anyone. Same thing for our villain portrayed by underrated actor Alan Rickman who is intelligent and does not fall into the obvious traps of ordinary plots. For once, the audience gets a complete meal and it is not taken for dumb.
The Plaza might even represent the Babel Tower that represents the globalization of the world to come and how capitalists are just like the terrorists raving for money and eager to die to protect their wealth.
Ranked amongst the finest Action films/Thrillers and Christmas movies, Die Hard is one hell of a fun ride, thanks to the presence of Bruce Willis and the talent of John McTiernan’s pushing boundaries in art direction, in special effects, and in stunts department. Every year, or so, I try to catch the film just before the Holidays because it reminds me of the Christmas of my childhood. The end credits song might be one of the best ever used in a Christmas film. A personal favourite movie that deserves its recognition amongst the Top 10 best Xmas films.