An Action Movie for the Ages: Die Hard
If you’re looking for a movie that combines action, romance, and Christmas magic, look no further. Die Hard is a terrific movie filled with infectious fun and nail-biting intensity that will make you laugh while your heart pounds to the beat of gunshots. You will be rocked by the boom of explosions and chuckle at the clever one-liners of John Mclane. You will also watch as John races from his pursuers on rooftops in his adventure when he attempts to escape his foes through a tiny air conditioning vent.
The film begins when the protagonist, John Mclane, meets his wife Holly for her company’s Christmas party, where he hopes to smooth over their relationship issues. However, his charm fails him, and he and his wife argue and separate during the party. Into this lively atmosphere enters the sauve Hans Gruber, German thief, accompanied by his gang of highly trained and well-armed thugs. He quickly takes everyone in the building hostage, except for the one person who could ruin his plans, John Mclane. What follows is an intense cat and mouse chase: Hans tries to locate John, and John consistently fools Hans as he picks off his men. The involvement of the local police and federal forces, who are incompetent to say the least, further complicates things for John as the plot continues.
John Mclane is brilliantly acted by Bruce Willis, and his main counterpoint in Hans Gruber, acted by Alan Rickman, is done equally well. The banter exhibited between the two main characters is well written and allows us to learn about each man and their methods and motivations without killing the pace. Hans realizes that he was greatly underestimating John, a New York, beat cop detective who immobilizes each of his men single handedly. John learns to fight for his marriage, a stark contrast to his original attitude at the beginning of the film.
Another neat aspect of the film is the way the directors approached the action scenes. Many movies released in the 80s featured massively muscled men passively shooting down waves of cardboard enemies with a machine gun. However, Die Hard flips this formula on its head and makes the protagonist the one on the back foot. This gives Die Hard a more realistic edge. The explosions are visceral and weighty, and the gunshots rattle bones. When John engages his enemies, he retains any damage taken throughout the entire movie. When he is shot, he stays shot. He is not some kind of superhero, which is reinforced by his refusal to take too many head-on fights with his enemies, instead using stealth and surprise as his preferred methods of engagement and picking his foes off one by one.
Die Hard, I say once again, is the greatest Christmas action movie ever made, with memorable characters who compliment one another brilliantly and an intelligent script that sets up weighty and emotionally satisfying payoffs. If you are looking for an intense, engaging movie, this is the movie for you.