Well, what can you say about the film that set up it’s own genre? This film, though may not have been the first of it’s type, was the one that spawned a whole slew of copy cats who used the high-concept of “Die Hard in a [fill in with your most favourite enclosed space].”
This is the first film of the Die Hard Trilogy. It is Christmas and John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York cop is flying into LA to see his kids and his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia). As he waits to talk to her privately in the new Nakatomi building where she works and where the company is holding its Christmas party, all hell breaks loose as terrorist seize the building. McClane escapes the grasps of the terrorists but stays in the building to wreak havoc on the terrorists’ plans. Unknown to the terrorists McClane is also staying in the building to save his wife who is part of the group taken.
Outside the building we have a set of stock characters, except for one. The stock characters include a bumbling police chief whose only job seems to be to act stupid and disagree with everything McClane says, a pair of dumb FBI agents whose job seems to make the life of the terrorist much easier, and an ambulance chasing reporter who goes to extremes to get the live story. I think most of these outside stock characters could have – should have – been removed to ease the story. The only things these characters do is slow up the story and ruin the pace. The only character outside of the building that seems normal and developed is Reginald VelJohnson’s Sgt. Al Powell.
Inside the building is one of my most favourite bad guys, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Gruber is an educated man who exudes calmness while he secretly has his reasons for leading the terrorists into the building. Gruber though is not a man to play with; he is ruthless and will go to any extreme to get it.
The action in Die Hard has to be seen. It is some incredible action and director John McTiernan shows that he can shoot action sequences well. There is the famous scene with Willis jumping off the top of the building with an explosion behind him. But, if you thought that was exciting wait to you see how McTiernan continues that sequence and gets you to the edge of your seat. There are other well set up action sequences in Die Hard that have this stand out quality.
The performances that I loved were those of Bruce Willis as John McClane and Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. And though Willis is supposed to be the lead character of Die Hard, it is Rickman who steals the show with is controlled insanity as Gruber.
Die Hard made it’s own genre that everyone tried to follow, but there is only the one true Die Hard. Don’t miss this film.
“Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” - John McClane.