Action Adventure Classic: “Die Hard”

With Christmas just over, I thought we might have a gander at a film that takes place around this time of year. That film is of course, is ELF!… This movie is by far… not the one I am going to be talking about. Though entertaining, not one of the A2 Classics. The 1988 action film Die Hard, on the other hand is.

“This seminal 1988 thriller made Bruce Willis a star and established a new template for action stories: ‘Terrorists take over a (blank), and a lone hero, unknown to the villains, is trapped with them.’ In Die Hard, those bad guys, led by the velvet-voiced Alan Rickman, assume control of a Los Angeles high-rise with Willis’s visiting New York cop inside. The attraction of the film has as much to do with the sight of a barefoot mortal running around the guts of a modern office tower as it has to do with the plentiful fight sequences and the bond the hero establishes with an LA beat cop. Bonnie Bedelia plays Willis’s wife, Hart Bochner is good as a brash hostage who tries negotiating his way to freedom, Alexander Godunov makes for a believable killer with lethal feet, and William Atherton is slimy as a busybody reporter. Exceptionally well directed by John McTiernan.” Tom Keogh

Die Hard was one of the most influential and ground breaking action movies in the last 25 years on two levels. First, as mentioned, is the fact that it created this new template for future action/hijack films to come. How exciting is the fact that there are several wildly prepared, intelligent, and lethal terrorists taking over a building with an unpredictable everyman cop is inside. Throw in some explosives, a visible location, and you do have the perfect template for many, many films to come.

The second ground breaking thing that Die Hard brings to the table is the fact that your hero, John McClane (Willis), is mortal. He gets cut, burnt, bruised, kicked about, thrown down stairs and generally beat to shat. In the past, your heroes were all invincible, could survive just about anything. John, he was just your regular guy, put in an extraordinary position. This set a new standard for the action hero, a hero who could be hurt, struggle, maybe even die. By the end of the film, he was half naked, bleeding and limping, and because of all that it made his triumph that much better.

As I said earlier, Die Hard is perfect for this time of year, because it takes place during the Christmas season in LA. I am not going to rob you with spoilers, though I assume most of you have seen it, but the end of the film makes it very fitting for this time of year with paper acting in the place of falling snow. And while it may not be something you sit down and watch with the family it is most enjoyable with your mates during the holiday season. (Hell, it’s most enjoyable with your mates in any season I suppose.) The dialog might not be award-winning and comparatively, its got a couple of cheesy effects but its an 80’s action movie — but come on, you have to admit that its low on the CG and high on the awesome! Anyways, its your holiday Action Adventure Classic. I hope you enjoy your holidays and remember, Yippee-ki-yay, M-Fers.

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