Tuesday, February 20, 2018

DIE HARD (1988) - ****1/2

Rated R
Running time: 132 min.
Release date: July 20, 1988

Budget - $28,000,000
Box office - $140,767,956 (worldwide)

Director - John McTiernan
Written by - Jeb Stuart/Steven E. de Souza

Cast - 

Bruce Willis - Det. John McClane
Alan Rickman - Hans Gruber
Alexander Godunov - Karl
Bonnie Bedelia - Holly Gennaro-McClane
Reginald VelJohnson - Sgt. Al Powell
Paul Gleason - Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson
De'voreaux White - Argyle
William Atherton - Richard Thornburg
Clarence Gilyard - Theo
Hart Bochner - Harry Ellis
James Shigeta - Joseph Takagi

Plot Synopsis: Hard-nosed NYPD detective John McClane arrives in Los Angeles for an attempted Christmas reconciliation with his estranged wife, who works for a major Japanese-owned corporation. A Christmas office party is being thrown at the same time that some lousy terrorists, led by the well-dressed and eloquent Hans Gruber, crash the party and take everyone hostage. John, of course, is able to slip away unnoticed...for now. It turns out that the terrorists are actually a group of thieves after some $600 million worth of bearer bonds locked in the company vault, which has seven levels of security protecting it. However, John faces incredible odds as he takes on the villains all by himself, attempting to unravel the villainous scheme while the police and feds on the ground are rendered pretty dumb and useless. Plenty of violence, plenty of explosions, plenty of great action.

Review thoughts: There is some debate as to whether this is considered a Christmas film or not, mostyl jokingly so. However, there is a Christmas tree, a Christmas party, Christmas music, and a couple of ho-ho-ho's, so YES this is a Christmas film if you're asking me. Personally, my favorite Christmas film of all time comes down to Die Hard and A Christmas Story. Here we have a star-making performance for Bruce Willis, as he gets to flex his action muscle in the realm of established stars (at the time) of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. In my humble opinion, he surpasses them because of one character trait that Willis provides John McClane: vulnerability. He is hard on himself because of his failing marriage, he gets cuts and scrapes, he is unsure of his next move at times. He projects his vulnerability to Sgt. Powell (VelJohnson) via walkie talkie for all to hear (including the villains). Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber is suave, intelligent and somewhat human, as evidenced in a scene where he agrees to provide some comfort in the form of a couch for a pregnent hostage along with bathroom trips. The action stops and starts throughout the film, as the plot takes time out for some character development. The gunplay and explosions are all excellently staged and crafted, and the tension crackles throughout the film. Where the movie falters a little is portraying the police and the FBI as complete imbeciles, bungling their way through the situation. This may be an effort to make McClane the smartest good guy in the room, but it also rings hollow in accuracy. Die Hard has become the template for the smart action thriller that contain a lone hero against countless odds and should be on the short list for greatest action films of all time.

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