Die Hard: The Ultimate "Christmas" Movie!
With Christmas approaching and news that 1988's action movie Die Hard is now being reshowed in theaters, it's time for a revisit, after 7 years since I last watched this debated " Christmas" classic .
The plot isn't as straightforward as most would perceive, sure you have terrorists holding office partygoer’s hostage in a high rise building during Christmas eve, but it somewhat stops there.
When our protagonist and unlikely hero NYPD Detective John McClaine played by a younger Bruce Willis, arrives in Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife Holly since she's been "moving on up" the corporate ladder, the Holiday Party at the Nakatomi Plaza gets crashed by uninvited guests and it's all up to McClaine to "save the day."
What made Die Hard such an instant success was that it avoided the tough macho archetype as witnessed in Stallone's Rambo films, instead we have McClaine as your everyman with no special forces background, using what wit, skills and smart-ass quips he uses in order to survive this high rise nightmare.
Die Hard was the gamechanger that took the motion picture industry by storm. with spectacular action sequences, tense moments, a plot twist, Willis' banter especially during the exchange between McClaine and Gruber and a niche plot device inspiring dozens of films when adapting the hostage action formula whether its Speed, Under Siege, Air Force One, Passenger 57 and so forth.
Alan Rickman without a doubt delivers a breakout performance as one of the best villains in Cinematic history. Gruber, a charismatic criminal mastermind is cunning as he is ruthless where the game of Cat and mouse is played as Hans sees John as a major "fly in the ointment, a pain in the ass."
Reginald Johnson as Sgt Al Powell is McClaine's sympathetic ear where the two form a friendship via walkie-talkie. Powell has a backstory that explains why he resists having the urge to fire a gun, which pays off in the very end.
There are scenes from the movie that demonstrate that Gruber's terrorists are not the only jerks in this movie, when you have an incompetent LAPD Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson who is Gung ho as well as trigger happy FBI agents, Johnson and Johnson (And like the namesake baby powder, both are toxic!) An opportunist employee Crisis actor, Ellis followed by Richard Thornburg, is an opportunistic News reporter played by William Atherton who endangers Holly's chances of survival just to make headlines.
While Die Hard is now codified as one of the best Christmas based films alongside Gremlins and Home Alone, it's also part "Survival Horror " when you have McClaine utilizing resource management and tactics to outwit his pursuers while trying to prevent the hostages and especially Holly from being casualties as Gruber plans to kill them all by detonating the C4 explosives as a means to cover up his escape.
While Lethal Weapon, another action movie with a Christmas setting came out a year earlier, Die Hard was the film which set the precedent for your unconventional Christmas Movies with Lethal Weapon, Batman Returns, Iron Man 3, and The Long Kiss Goodnight following suit. 35 years in, and this movie is still a fun ride start to finish!