Die Hard – Throwback Thursday
Intro to… Die Hard
Back in the 80s Bruce Willis starred in a little Christmas-themed action flick that for some peculiar reason was released in July. This movie was called Die Hard and since by now there are five of them chances are you have heard of this movie before. Back then it set a new bar for all action movies to come, but does it still hold its own today?
Police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) is flying from New York to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas together with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and his two children. Their unusual living arrangements happened when Holly accepted a new job six months earlier that forced her to move to LA. This has obviously put a strain on their marriage, but they are also really looking forward to seeing each other again.
John is picked up by a limo at the airport and is brought to Holly’s work. The company is in the midst of a lavish Christmas party when he arrives. He strolls through the crowd and meets up with his wife in her office. They have a falling out and John cleans himself up in the bathroom. At that moment a group of armed men led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) crashes the party and takes everybody except John hostage. Hans and his crew quickly show that they should not be taken lightly by shooting the head of the company, in the head.
Determined to save his wife and foil the plans of her captures, John uses his police training to take out one bad guy after another.
Should I Watch It?
The unique thing that Die Hard introduced is that the hero, in this case John, is actually in danger. Action stars such as Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris have all starred in films where villains cannot aim, and even if they could they are virtually indestructible. They are portrayed as such bad-asses that being hit is only a minor inconvenience. Their characters get thrown into situations that would be dangerous for everyone except hem, while John gets thrown in a situation that is dangerous for everyone including him. When he takes a beating it actually hurts him, and this is visually shown by the way he talks and moves. This creates an infinite amount of increased tension.
The story makes incredible use of this. John is fighting against strong and well-trained men and every fight takes its toll on him. This makes him a more humane and relatable character. And John needs this. Bruce Willis is a great actor and I am not going to deny that he did a great job in this movie, he really did, but in the beginning I kind of thought John was a bit of a stuck up douche. I am convinced this was not their intention, I believe they wanted to portray John as a stern, strong, and reserved New York police officer, but to me it felt like he was more of a conceited jerk. His passive reactions and facial expressions made me dislike him. However, that all changed when the shooting and butt kicking began. As John realises how slim his chances of survival are he opens up more and realises that he can be quite a jerk. He undergoes a lot of growth and character development throughout the movie. This made me quickly change my mind and root for him.
When talking about Die Hard one cannot just talk about the hero. Alan Rickman creates a terrifyingly brilliant villain. He is not necessarily scary in appearance, but he never loses focus or control. Hans Gruber is cold, calculating, and ruthless. He perceives every weakness and quickly adapts to make use of it.
A lot of this movie is really good but there are some flaws here and there. Some of the fight choreography is unconvincing, and there is the occasional impossible stunt. But overall the movie is really compelling and I would definitely recommend watching it.
Yes, watch it.