Die Hard (1988)

Now I have a review of this film, ho-ho-ho

On Christmas Eve, New York City Police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Los Angeles, in the Nakatomi Plaza building during it's company Christmas party, to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly. While McClane changes clothes, the party is disrupted by the arrival of Hans Gruber and his heavily armed group, who plan to steal the 600 million dollars locked in Nakatomi's high-tech safe. The group seize the tower and secure those inside as hostages except for McClane who manages to slip away, barefoot.

It's hard to believe that prior to this role, Bruce Willis was not known as an action star, but as a TV star in the romantic dramedy TV show Moonlighting. It must have been such a surprise to the audiences upon viewing this film to see how much of a badass Bruce Willis truly could be, and it was this film that cemented his role as a cinematic badass.

John McClane may seem at first like merely the typical action film character we get time and time again, but McClane is different. He doesn't rush into armed gunfights head first, he focuses on saving the hostages and letting the police know what is happening firstly. If he's at a disadvantage, he won't run at the villains firing off bullets anyway, he'll retreat without fear, knowing he'll get a chance later on. His relationship with his wife and their history feels real, and is handled really well. He is one of the first truly well rounded action film characters, and has rarely been bettered.

Al Powell makes for an interesting character to partner up with John. The two manage to share some great chemistry, especially when you consider how their scenes consist of talking over the radio. Al is a well knowledged and very intuitive character, as he manages to deduce that John is a cop only from the things he said. He also manages to give the film quite a bit of heart, be it with his developing bond with John McClane over the radio and when he reveals he intentionally went back to a desk job after being unable to deal with one mistake he made.

Nobody can truly review Die Hard without mentioning what is possibly the best German Terrorist seen in film to this day, Hans Gruber. Alan Rickman is brilliantly intimidating in this villainous role, delivering his lines with utter menace steeped within each word that escapes his lips. Hard to believe this man would be teaching in Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry over a decade later.

A TV dinner's probably wondering how it feels to be Bruce Willis

The plot is pretty straight-forward and easy to follow, whilst managing to build the suspense very well, but the film isn't a straight faced, completely serious affair, as it manages to include a good humoured lighter side which seems to always hit its mark, and this benefits the film, making it all the more enjoyable. It also manages to benefit from a number of brilliant lines tethered throughout the film's running time, be they funny, intimidating (which mostly comes from Alan Rickman's mouth) or just utterly quotable.

But of course, this is an action film first and foremost, and it manages to help a lot that the action sequences are fantastic to watch, never managing to feel generic or yawn-worthy. The explosions this film boasts are especially great to behold, none of that "the bigger the better" explosion guff that Michael Bay boasts in his films, but a proper, cinematic explosion that terrifically dazzles.

I did feel that the subplot about the news crew investigating the Nakatomi Plaza hostage situation didn't add much, and the hard headed cops and FBI really seemed to serve no purpose other than to move the terrorists further along the film's plot, but they didn't manage to detract from the overall film, so these are pretty much nitpicks rather than negatives.

With an ending that manages to satisfy in every conceivable way, it's no wonder Die Hard is considered to be such a classic film. It boasts great characters to root for, an undeniably amazing villain, brilliant performances, a great sense of humor, terrific action scenes and the right amount of heart, making it the best unconventional Christmas film.


Jeff SC said…
Without a doubt my favorite action movie. I completely agree about McClane, he is an amazing and surprisingly realistic action hero. He acts rationally, isn't invincible, and acts like a real human being would! Also Rickman was a great villain. Awesome review
Ruth said…
Hells yeah! Love Die Hard, and the first is definitely the best (though Die Hard with a Vengeance where Jeremy Irons is Hans Grubers little brother is pretty fun too!) Rickman was just the best - the film that launched his Hollywood career! Great write up!
Unknown said…
I didnt know alan rickman was in this film! Now I am curious! Terrific review and very nicely said! I can't believe I have not watched this film yet. Better hop to it.
I have never seen this movie. Yeah, shoot me. But I'll get around to it one of these days.
Jesse P said…
Me and some friends have this tradition where we watch this the day before Christmas, a classic on it's and for the concept and characters.

Excellent review as always.
James Rodrigues said…
I'm thinking about making this a tradition also, thanks for reading
James Rodrigues said…
I only first saw it last year, so as long as you eventually see it. Thanks for reading
James Rodrigues said…
Oh yeah, it's one of Rickmans best roles, look forward to your review. Thanks for reading.
James Rodrigues said…
This is the only Die Hard film i;ve seen, but I have the Quadrilogy boxset, so I look forward to cracking on with the rest of the series.
James Rodrigues said…
Definitely, one of the best action films i've seen. Gotta love it, thanks for reading.
H.A.K. said…
oh yeah. that was an awesome film. excellent review.