#164 / 365 – ‘Die Hard’ (1988) – 131 mins
Cinema Challenge #68 / 115
Several of us film geeks from Cheltenham Film Club descended on Somerset House, London to immensely enjoy a tingling festival atmosphere, as Film 4 unveiled their Sizzling Summer Screen programme. Where only the man himself, Alan Rickman introduced ‘Die Hard’ to a rapturous applause! An amazing night!
In the city of Los Angeles, a Christmas party is held on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Plaza Hotel. While the party is going on, downstairs, a band of German terrorists arrive and take the entire building hostage including its employees and attempts a huge robbery. But the only one who eludes capture is New York City Cop John McClane who launches a one man war in an attempt to stop the terrorists and save all hostages including his wife Holly
Is Die Hard the greatest action movie ever made? Yes I think it qualifies for that number one spot, do you?
Why? Because when ‘Die Hard’ came along in 1988 it redefined the action movie genre with its simple but winning formula – terrorists take over skyscraper and one man trapped inside singe handedly takes them out. The genre was not the only thing it turned on its head, because at time relatively unknown actor called Bruce Willis also gave us a new breed of action hero, and too one which we can all relate too, as John McClane is just your “average” joe.
However the real hero is director John McTiernan, who also in the previous year gave us that other thrilling action movie ‘Predator’. Along with Die Hard cinematographer, Jan De Bont, McTiernan outputs some spectacular and noisy intense explosions, slick close hand-to-hand combat and to which all this and more is given some masterful and relentless pacing, where your adrenaline flows from start to finish.
Die Hard wouldn’t be Die Hard without its dialogue that crackles with wit – “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.”, “I’m Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson. No relation.”, “Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast, I think I can handle this Eurotrash.” and so many more memorable lines – too which Kate one of our film club members and massive Die Hard fan gave us some brilliant word-perfect commentary at the event.
Just when you think this action extravaganza can’t get any better, the wonderfully intelligent bad guy Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman) who oozes charisma and menace enters the fray to make my Top 5 of Best Screen Villains Ever. Apart from a few minor TV appearances and being cast in many theatre productions, Die Hard was Rickman’s first big screen and breakthrough role, but this never shows and his compelling presence steals nearly every scene from the man in the vest.
Without Die Hard there quite simply wouldn’t have been the many imitators it spawned, Passenger 57, Under Siege, Cliffhanger, and Speed which were marketed as Die Hard on a___/___/___/___ fill in the blanks. As part of my IMDb challenge this means I’ve got to watch this ’80s masterpiece again soon with it ranking at #109, and I’m shouting “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” to that.