Part #3 of the 2016 Christmas Countdown.
It’s a testament to Die Hard‘s brilliance that it remains untarnished after so many sub-par sequels. Almost thirty years after its release, John McTiernan’s classic is still regarded as one of the best action movies of all time, and rightly so.
New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Los Angeles to meet up with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and their children on Christmas Eve. The marriage was put on hold due to conflicting career paths – he remained an NYPD detective while she pursued a lucrative career at the Nakatomi Corporation – but both seem to be heading for a reconciliation at Holly’s office Christmas party.
What neither of them count on, however, is the small army of terrorists intent on gatecrashing the party. Their purpose for being at the Nakatomi Tower is revealed to be the millions of dollars’ worth of bonds that are stored in the building’s vault. With the tower locked down and everybody inside held hostage, it falls to the wily McClane to elude the uninvited guests and disrupt their plans.
Bruce Willis proved to be an excellent and relatable action hero. He’s perfect as the over-confident everyman who relies more on his cunning and his persistence than brawn. That’s not to say that he doesn’t get stuck in when the fighting erupts, however. Willis brings an almost feral quality to the proceedings that makes his against-the-odds battle all the more believable.
Every action movie needs a villain, and what an outstanding villain Die Hard has. Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber is not only the perfect dance partner for John McClane, but one of the best movie villains of all time. He’s sly, sinister, ruthlessly ambitious but suave and outrageously charming.
A heady concoction of excellent performances, exciting action and witty dialogue make Die Hard a standard-bearer for the genre. There are few action flicks that are on par with it, and fewer still that have surpassed it.