Die Hard

Cinematical did a posting today about a fan video that someone put together of all the Die Hard movies, showcasing every scene that had fire in it. I got about a minute in and realized it had been too long since I’ve seen the original film and rented it from iTunes.

Die Hard is probably the first R-Rated movie that I saw. It has only a brief snippet of nudity in it, no sex, just language and violence. My folks were okay with that when I was 12 or so; at least, I think I was that old. Anyway, this film was a watershed film for me. It introduced me to the Action Film(tm). Oh, and quotable movie lines. Do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza? Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.

For the uninitiated, Die Hard was released in 1988 and starred Bruce Willis as a celluloid newcomer. Most folks knew him from the hit TV show Moonlighting and there were questions whether or not he would be able to pull off a convincing action hero, a la Kurt Russell with Escape from New York. It seems silly now that you see Bruno’s resume since this movie but at the time it was a moderate gamble. Nevertheless, it was a smash hit and has become a landmark movie. There are countless clones and several sequels. To this day, people refer to new films as, “Die Hard on a [insert situational location here].” But enough history. On to the movie itself.

John McClane (Willis) is a New York cop who travels to Los Angeles for a Christmas Party that his estranged wife’s (Holly, played by Bonnie Bedelia) company is having. Midway through the party, some terrorists show up and man-against-many ensues. Stand out moments for me are:

– The Score. Michael Kamen’s score is one of my all time favorites and is one of the first that I took notice of. Mixed with Beethoven’s Ninth and full of the Kamen trademarks, I can listen to it any time. As soon as the movie starts, it fills me with nostalgia and admiration.

– Meeting Takagi. Early into the film, McClane is introduced to the CEO of the Nakatomi Corporation. He is pleasant, respectful, humorous, and confident. He doesn’t back down from his responsibilities and gives his life (literally) for his employees. This is a guy that I wanted to work for…and still do. I love it when McClane says, “I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan,” he replies, “Hey, Pearl Harbor didn’t work, so we got you with tape decks.” Classic.

– Hans Gruber. The terrorist leader played by Alan Rickman. The gentleman terrorist, if you will. Watching McClane terrorize (ha) him with his antics and intteruptions still provides me with unmitigated glee. Rickman is a masterful actor and I still see him as the villain because of this role. “Mr. Takagi did not see it that way, so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.” Hahaha!

– Richard Thornburg, TV Reporter. William Atherton plays such a dick. He was also the EPA guy that shut down the Ghostbusters containment grid. He still has the bar set for me on annoying supporting characters. His face flattening at the end was extremely gratifying.

– Great Stunt Work. There are a lot of good action pieces in this film, from the gunplay to the explosions. McClane jumping from the roof while it explodes is an iconic 80’s image. We’re gonna need a few more FBI guys.

– Technology. This isn’t really a moment, but it’s interesting to see how much things have changed in recent history. Tape decks are standard, mobile phones are an ultra-luxury, computers are extraordinarily basic, and most cars are very boxy; however, I don’t think of this film as outdated. Except maybe with Ellis says, “It’s a Rolex.” That doesn’t mean as much as it used to. LOL @ portable TV. Also, $.77/gal gas for unleaded and $.74 for regular. I imagine there are multitudes of people now that are all like, “What’s regular gas?”

This movie doesn’t get old. It has all the ingredients that it needs and ranks up with The Fugitive as a movie I’ll watch any time I see it on.

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