Die Hard (1988) - 8/10
Updated: Dec 25, 2021
It’s Christmas so I’m watching Die Hard. Yes it is a Christmas film. End of argument. New York Cop John McClane (Bruce Willis, with hair) is going to have a bad day. He’s heading to see his young family and estranged wife in California, but his first and to be last stop is wife Holly’s (Bonnie Bedelia) works Christmas party on the 30th floor of Nakatomi Tower. John is a bit old fashioned, not very supportive of his wife’s new successful career and to be honest is a bit of a dick, but give him time, it’s the 80s. He’s gonna get chance to do his thing. His thing being kicking shit out of bad dudes while wearing a white vest. You see Nakatomi Tower is the target of super slick 80s terrorists headed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). They’re European, always the bad guys to 1980s America and the tower is the target because one, it’s full of cutting edge tech they can manipulate in order to lockdown and take hostages. One being Holly and two, there’s money… lots of money. Willis is the fun meathead, all heart and fond of talking to himself. Make no mistake though, Rickman is the star. He’s smart, cultured, witty, refined and delivers the dastardly Gruber perfectly. “Who said we were terrorists”, Hans wants the hundreds of millions of dollars in the downstairs vault. It might be a simple job too… if it weren’t for pesky John getting in the way. I’ve not seen this in nearly 30 years and honestly it’s every bit as great as I remember, even if it is old school dumb fun. There’s of course a very quotable quota of pithy one liners. In fact almost every line Willis delivers (he doesn’t get “The Quarterback is toast”), as the long haired chiselled Germans chase him up elevators and through air vents. Of course the notion of one cop against the bad guys is a bit of a push in 2021. The cops outside are comically useless, aside Sgt. Al (Reginald VelJohnson) who’s John’s only confidant on the radio. 30 years on Gruber and Co wouldn’t stand a chance would they. US Cops would probably level the place. It takes them a little longer to get shooty in 1988, but it’s these little extra characters that give Die Hard spark. Thornburg (William Atherton) the sleaze bag reporter just looking for a scoop, Ellis (Hart Bochner) the sleaze bag co-worker looking to score with Holly and chief cop Dwayne (Paul Gleason) who’s as stupid as America cops get. Die Hard for all it’s action bravado is really just having a laugh. Poking fun at the stereotypes and blowing shit up. It’s all about the comedy from the deadpan dialogue to Police SWAT teams hurting themselves on rose thorns. It’s a great mix of yeehaw USA, with razor sharp wit and a plot that shifts better than any film of the era or genre has the right to. I love everything about this film, right down to the romantic cop clinch at the end. It is brilliant, bonkers and beautiful from start to finish. Get the girl. Kill the baddies. Merry Christmas everyone.