177 of 1001 Movies: Die Hard (1988)

I guess after you make a flop like Rollerball your career goes away after that, as John McTiernan only made one movie since that one. Before that disaster though, he directed Die Hard. I’ve got to say I enjoyed it way more than I expected to. It is an action film that relies on a lot more action effects that seem natural since CGI wasn’t overused in those days since it usually didn’t look good. Instead real explosions, lots of stunts, fighting, and pretty colors highlight this film, and make it a definite action classic.

Summary: John McClane has traveled from New York where he has a job with the NYPD, to visit his wife and kids who have moved to California for her job. Her new job being at a distance, and him wanting to continue to reside in New York has caused some friction between the two.  He hopes they can reconcile on this visit though during Christmas. When he gets there though he doesn’t get to chat with her long as the office is taken over by foreign terrorist, Hans Gruber, who is out to get the money there. Now the Christmas Party has been interrupted with violence and chaos, and John is the only hope that any of the hostages inside have of escaping the carnage.

Acting: Bruce Willis really carries this movie as he is the main character we follow, John. He intrigues with how he exactly is going to get out this situation without risking any lives around him. I found it even odd that characters I thought were annoying were sad to see go when they lost their lives. Willis though portrays the concern he has for his wife, and the bravery he needs to get through the circumstance. I was really surprised to see Snape…I mean Alan Rickman as Hans the bad guy. I haven’t actually seen Rickman in another movie, but I thought he did really well with portraying Hans and making him so heartless, but with this face that looks like the every day business man. Reginald VelJohnson is the sergeant called to the scene, Al Powell. I couldn’t help but think of Family Matters the whole time. Paul Gleason plays the annoying guy in charge as he did in The Breakfast Club in this one, but he does it well. He just seems so arrogant and unlikable. Bonnie Bedelia is John’s wife, Holly, and she does well with the role, and I liked how though she couldn’t do much she still did show a lot of stand up bravery for how little she could do.

Filming: With a movie like this you want good action, and I can see why I haven’t liked many action movies, because this is what they should be doing. You have a lot of elements like the more real looking explosions, the dramatic fright of being in a tall building trapped, a lot of showdown fights, and really bad guys. I think the shots the director takes with the angles not always being vertical or horizontal work as well, because when he have this side way glance it sort of adds this cartoon like bad guy vibe to certain characters. I also thought the suspense was built well in how the characters are shot during moments of distress.

Plot: The plot is simple but entertaining. I don’t even think you need to truly know what the bad guys are after to enjoy the movie or not. All you need to know is who is bad who is good, and what led the good guy, John, to the scene of the place being held hostage. I also did like how the director doesn’t play into the idea of the dumb cop thing. It is just so overused, so while it looks like Al might take that direction I am glad it turns around. It has some stereotypes about him, but that doesn’t detract from his character. The plot also balances the dramatic and comedic scenes well to ever keep the movie from being too depressing.

Die Hard is really at the top of action of movies. It’s well captured and documents the intensity of the situation well. I actually didn’t leave my seat the entire time the movie was on because I was that reeled in by what was happening in the movie. That hasn’t happened in a long time. It’s a movie where you can’t imagine how the story extends so long, but it can because they know how to pace it. We also have an attachment to the characters and their situations through the back story that is well built. It’s just a good, fun, popcorn, action movie.

Rating 9 of 10.

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