This may seem like history repeating itself because I’ve already reviewed Die Hard on this blog. But, considering it was the inspiration for the title of my blog, there was no real alternative to end my Throwback Thirty series. Not only is it one of the best films of 1988 but it is one of the most loved films of all time. Seriously, you mention Die Hard to pretty much everyone and they’ll respond positively. Plus, it’s kind of timely considering this year the whole “is Die Hard a Christmas film?” debate started raging again. “And is it?” I hear you cry? I don’t really care. Officially, I did put it on my list of ‘Essential Christmas films’ but I’d watch this film at any time of year and be happy. That’s not something I could say about the majority of other films on that list. In my heart, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas until I’ve watched Bruce Willis run around in a dirty tank top but it’s only real link to Christmas is the setting. But, I say again, who gives a shit?
What is the best thing that Bruce Willis has ever done? If you’d asked me this last year then I would have said, without a doubt, it was Die Hard. Now, after buying it for my friend’s birthday in 2017, I’d have to say this film is tied with his R&B album The Return of Bruno. I’d never heard it before but it is utter genius. Yes, he’s not the greatest singer ever but he’s surprisingly talented and there is a certain something about the album as a whole. I definitely bought it as a job but it’s my new guilty pleasure album. I mean his over of Under the Boardwalk is actually good. It’s incredible. But, I’m about to become distracted so back to Die Hard.
Although, the reason I’m getting distracted is because I don’t really want to write this. And that’s only because I fucking love this film so it’s really difficult to talk about it in an unbiased way. Something I tried to do the first time I reviewed it. Instead, the whole point of this film is just to be an exciting and insane action film. It’s engaging and tense. No matter how many times you watch it or how well you know the story. Hell, I can probably talk along with the actors by this point, as I’m sure many of you will be able to. That doesn’t ever make it less entertaining.
And, let’s not forget, Die Hard broke the mould in terms of action movies. For one thing, it allowed John McClane to be the most well-rounded and developed action hero we’d ever seen. I mean how many movie tough guys before this film took a moment out to have a little weep in the bathroom? And yet still be such a badass. This was the first time we saw an action man who was both a badass and the kind of guy you wanted to have a beer with. Not the monosyllabic muscle men we’d seen from Arnie, Stallone, or Seagal. This was a real man even though he was capable of doing things no real man would have a hope of doing. McClane is vulnerable. You genuinely fear for him in a way that you weren’t used to.
And that is also due to the fact that, for the first time, he was up against a formidable opponent. For his Hans Gruber, Alan Rickman will forever be known as one of the best bad buys in movie history. Hans wasn’t just some generic big boss but he was clever and kind of charming. In a weird way, you kind of wanted him to get away with it. There was a certain sympathy surrounding him. Maybe it was down to his designer suit or his calm and careful demeanour. But, whatever the reason, Hans changed the rules for action movie villain.
Die Hard is not just a great movie in its own right. Though it is a well-crafted and put together tale. It is an important part of film history. Just as this film takes things from past movies, there isn’t an action movie that came out after 1988 that hasn’t, in some way, been influenced by this. It is the film that all other action films will get compared and they will always come up short. It’s a thing worth celebrating. At Christmas or at any other time. Die Hard changed the rules and it must be awful for anyone trying to make an action movie these days. They must go crazy trying to beat it at its own game. Mad with anger. After all, “only John can make somebody that crazy.”