There was a moment in an early scene of Die Hard when John McClane (Bruce Willis) is having an argument with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) in the executive washroom in Ellis's office. It's scripted so that the two of them end up talking over each other about what McClane's idea of their marriage is, and it's such an honest depiction of estranged spouses that I find myself forgetting what movie I'm watching when I get to that part.
Granted, not everyone has a terrorist takeover of their office building to teach them not to take each other for granted, but it works here.
That scene is one of the great things about Die Hard, not because it contributes anything to the action, but because it contributes everything to the characters. Most action films before and after this seem violence-driven, but this one manages to balance the humanity of its protagonist, and I can't even begin to measure how much of that balance comes from that one scene.
I think the other thing that most defines the spirit of this movie is McClane's shoes. It's such an obvious contrivance, set up right from the beginning, but it's worked into the entire story so artfully that I have completely forgiven it every time I've seen the film. Of all the bad luck, to be caught in the middle of a terrorist attack and then have to chase the bad guys around a 40-story building, all without shoes.
But, as McClane himself says, it's "better than being caught with your pants down." I know how much of the plot and the action hinges upon luck, timing, strong fingertips, and the Rube Goldberg machinery of the FBI-terrorist interplay, but I really don't care. I still get caught up in the nervous moments of this movie 18 years later. I still ache along with McClane as he pulls a three-inch piece of glass out of his foot in the emergency lighting in the bathroom. And I still root for him to get the bad guy, rescue his wife, save his marriage, and meet Al Powell even though I must have scene this movie 30 or 40 times already, and I know he's going to do it again the next time.
This is a great film, and easily the best written and best executed action movie I have ever seen. But more to the point, and more importantly, it's a fun movie to watch, no matter how many times you see it.
Action / Thriller
Action / Thriller
NYPD cop John McClane goes on a Christmas vacation to visit his wife Holly in Los Angeles where she works for the Nakatomi Corporation. While they are at the Nakatomi headquarters for a Christmas party, a group of robbers led by Hans Gruber take control of the building and hold everyone hostage, with the exception of John, while they plan to perform a lucrative heist. Unable to escape and with no immediate police response, John is forced to take matters into his own hands.
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March 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM