Just over a year from the release of Predator, Director John McTiernan will come out with the film that will cement his legacy as a director; that film is Die Hard.
The film was released in 1988 and starred Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and Bonnie Bedelia. The movie is about a NYC cop, John McClane (Bruce Willis), who flies to L.A. to try and salvage his marriage by accompanying his wife to her employee Christmas party in the Nakatomi Plaza Hotel.
It looks like the holidays are going to be hard for McClane because a group of criminals led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) take over the building, holding the party goers as hostages in exchange for the release of certain prisoners. We later find out that Gruber is using the hostage situation / prison release as a cover in order to loot 640 million dollars in bearer bonds. It’s up to John McClane to stop Gruber and save the hostages.
What made Die Hard so great is John McTiernan’s choice in picking the then little known actor, Bruce Willis, as the lead in the film. Willis didn’t fit the mold of the 80’s action star. He wasn’t all chiseled with perfect hair. He looked like a “regular guy”, an underdog with everything going against him, making McClane all that easier to root for.
The writing in this movie was also great fun. I loved the use of all those sarcastic one liners and the infamous catch phrase "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker". When John McClane kept referring himself to Roy Rodgers however I kept imagining Bugs Bunny…just my opinion.
Last but not least, a hero is only as good as the villain he goes up against. Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Hans Gruber is nothing short of brilliant. Smart, sophisticated, cool, the total opposite of our hero in every way. Without Rickman’s performance, there would be no plight for our hero.
Die Hard over the years has become the quintessential action movie. Reviewers use Die Hard as a reference to describe other action films, for example: Steven Seagal’s 1992 film Under Siege was called Die Hard on a ship. It doesn’t get better than that.
If you are new to the action genre, do not hesitate, start with Die Hard.