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Die Hard

February 20, 2011

790. Die Hard
Directed by John McTiernan
USA, 1988
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
First viewing

Synopsis:

New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) has a strained relationship with his wife, Holly Gennero (Bonnie Bedelia). She had taken a high-flying job at Nakatomi Corporation, moving her children to LA in the process and leaving John behind after he refused to leave the NYPD.

John travels to LA on Christmas Eve to visit Holly at Nakatomi Plaza. While the office Christmas party is in full swing, the building is taken over by terrorists. With the lifts, phones and exits blocked and out of order, and the hapless police down below making things worse, it’s up to John to bring down terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his cohorts.

Top Quotes:

I’m changing my routine a little. I found it a little hard to pick a scene without either typing up loads of directions or spoiling something, so here are some essential quotes instead. Hey, men of action have to say some funny lines while killing people!

Hans Gruber: Uh, no, I’m afraid not. But, you have me at a loss. You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?

John McClane: Was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually. I really like those sequined shirts.

Hans Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?

John McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

Hans Gruber: This time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.

John McClane: That was Gary Cooper, asshole.

John McClane: Geronimo, motherfucker!

Supervisor: Attention, whoever you are, this channel is reserved for emergency calls only.

John McClane: No fucking shit, lady. Does it sound like I’m ordering a pizza?

[Jeez, this guy sounds like a foul-mouthed motherfucker. ~ Ally]

Thoughts:

Die Hard is a stellar example of its genre; an action film with a modern hero — he’s got emotion, folks, but he sure can fire a gun — bad (mostly foreign) baddies and dangerous stunt work. For viewers with a love of this style, I doubt it gets much better than this. Unfortunately, Die Hard is not something I watched with much enthusiasm.

In the late ’80s, actor/director Alexis Kanner sued the creators of Die Hard, claiming that they had stolen the plot of his 1981 hostage drama Kings and Desperate Men. He lost, and the case was a little far fetched, but having seen the two films, I can see why I found Die Hard a little formulaic.

Die Hard’s John McClane and Hans Gruber are strong characters, and Alan Rickman is an especially strong actor. The meeting between McClane and Gruber is one of the film‘s highlights, but their showdowns are brief and the characters do not get a chance to really shine.

Kings and Desperate Men goes the other way. The terrorist and the hostage (Alexis Kanner and Patrick McGoohan respectively) spend the majority of the film locked in a room together. The two men fight a psychological battle, revealing their strengths and weaknesses as they both try to gain control of the situation. Man against man, rather than one man against the rather unrealistic number of thirteen.

I’m aware that Die Hard wouldn’t be Die Hard without guns, ripped vests and stunts, but a little bit of character development and suspense wouldn’t have have gone amiss.

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