An NYPD cop becomes the only person who can stop a gang
of terrorists who have taken over Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
Die Hard (1988)
Directed by John McTiernan
Written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza
Starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia,
Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton,
Hart Bochner, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush,
De'vorreauz White, Andreas Wisniewski
Based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing,
Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects
It’s hard to preface this one. You know it. Considered one of the greatest action films of all time and the quintessential Christmas movie of all time. Your dad has seen it. He’s shown it to you. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you Die Hard. That’s right, it’s time to look at a movie which somehow epitomizes that most wonderful time of the year. For a little background, this was a film I had heard about pretty much my whole life. But, it wasn’t until the release of the fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, that I became pretty interested to see what the originals were about. Lucky for me, the originals were playing on a movie channel one day and I had the DVR set up. Thus, I began to watch one of the greatest action films ever.
I think the best way to start this is with the most iconic elements of this film: Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. Willis plays our hero, John McClane, an ordinary cop caught in an extraordinary situation. And, well, look, there’s a reason this is his franchise. He completely owns the role and is a constant joy to watch. From his charm, swagger, and one-liners, he comfortably cements himself as an action movie star. On the villain side of things, we get Rickman as Hans Gruber. And, boy, what an iconic bad guy he is thanks to this incredible performance. From the way he speaks to how he carries himself, Rickman has created one of action cinema’s most well-known bad guys. The final big thing I love about this film is how little dialogue moments become a major part of the film later. Just pay attention to various things characters quickly say, which becomes a plot device later.
Die Hard, simply put, is an iconic film. The action is heart racing. The characters are fully fleshed out. The attention to detail is amazing. And the humorous moments here and there work. So, if you’re looking for something a little different from the usual Yuletide festivities, then get some family and friends gathered around for a trip to Nakatomi Tower.
I think very few people would dispute the fact that Die Hard is one of the greatest action films of all time. Not only does it feature the breakout performances of both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, but it spawned countless imitators and revitalized the action genre for decades to come. Here we are, it's 2016, and we're still obsessed with it. The beauty of this film is its simplicity. It's rooted in realism thanks to a grounded performance from Bruce Willis. He wasn't super cut like Stallone or Schwarzenegger. He was the guy from Moonlighting.
Die Hard is easily the best and most memorable in what became an uneven franchise that pretty much shot itself in the foot after the fifth installment. Thankfully, we'll always have part one. In this film, we see Officer John McClane (Willis) do whatever it takes to stop a ruthless terrorist gang led by international criminal Hans Gruber (Rickman). Armed with his wits, his bare feet, and a stained wifebeater, McClane single-handedly takes these guys down one by one, earning his rightful place in the action hero hall of fame. Along the way, he's aided by the voice of Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), a fellow cop who knows what it's like to face impossible odds. I don't mean to gush, but this movie is a classic.
As I said before, there's a reason this film has lasted this long. It's because it is a pure, unaltered, balls-out action flick. Die Hard blew everybody's mind and to this day, it remains one of the most important action films ever made. I don't even want to think about the state of the action genre had Die Hard not come about. Such a world is too grim to even consider.