A classic action movie that is also just a good movie period, Die Hard has been refined in recent years as a Christmas movie.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the story follows John McClane, a New York Corp who travels to LA to see his estranged wife at her office Christmas party. The building is taken over by terrorists with a perfect plan. They just didn’t plan on John McClane.
There are a couple of truly wonderful things about this movie, the first is the story. Aside from everything else that happens in it, it is about a stubborn man trying to reconnect with the woman he loves and trials tribulations he has to go through to become the man who deserves to get her back. It’s a really simple heart that keeps the action grounded and makes the movie more than a cop taking on terrorists. Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia make this story work. Without their dedication to the reality of this marriage and the weight of their shared history this movie would have felt like one of the thousand heartless knock offs that have come out since this movies release.
The supporting characters are wonderful across the board. There’s Powell the cop with a bad past who finds redemption in this adventure. There’s Ellis, the smarmy dingus who snorts coke and is arrogant enough to try to negotiate with the terrorists, yet even this potentially one note character is given at least a little redemption by not giving the whole game away. Then there are the villains, the henchman driven mad by his desire for revenge. And of course Hans Gruber, the ultimate mastermind villain. he’s played by Alan Rickman, and was there ever a better villain than Alan Rickman? He is charming, sophisticated, and witty. He is cold, calculating, and cruel. He is in total control of the screen whenever he’s present. It’s worth seeing just for him.
This movie is most well known for its action. Its action is legendary. What makes this action most enjoyable today it’s refreshingly practical nature. Practical in terms of practical effects achieved without computers. Practical also in terms of the logical progression of events that John takes as he tries to stop these villains. He doesn’t jump to wild superhero antics. He does everything he can think to do as a regular guy. His solutions to problems would be my solutions to those problems.
The most important and controversial question regarding this movie is whether or not it falls within the Christmas movie canon. There is debate every year. Personally, I do not define it as a Christmas movie. To me it is a movie set at Christmas time. My reasoning for this is that while it is set at Christmastime, it does not explore the holiday. It doesn’t look at what Christmas time is or means. If the party was a launch party or a New Years party it would be the same. Finally, a Christmas movie to me is one that can’t be watched throughout the year. It feels weird watching A Christmas Carol in April. It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t have the same effect in October. Die Hard can be viewed and enjoyed year round. The bottom line is that this is a great movie. If Christmas gives you an excuse to watch it, then watch and enjoy.
Definitely my cup of tea. A