Review of 'Die Hard'

die_hard.jpg There is the on-going argument about whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie or not. Well, it is set at Christmas time but is not what you might call a traditional Christmas film by any means.

New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) returns to Los Angeles to be with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) who is attending a Christmas party thrown by her employer at their unfinished headquarters at Nakatomi Plaza. After some heated words between the two of them, John is cleaning himself up in another room when a group of terrorists led by German anarchist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) attack the party looking for Holly's boss Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta) who they want to open the highly secure vault. John quickly springs into action, escaping capture and picking off the bad guys one by one but time is running out and the building is wired to blow…

Even after more than 30 years “Die Hard” is just as enjoyable with enough twists and turns to keep a modern audience entertained along with some sparkling dialogue that is still commonly quoted. At the time Willis was playing strongly against type having previously appeared as the romantic interest in the popular TV sitcom “Moonlighting” and it was always a bit of a gamble as to whether he would convince. Well, the gamble paid off and Willis is brilliant as the equally brutal, athletic, and wise-cracking McClane. Equally, Rickman puts on a strong performance as the nasty master thief heavily armed with a small army yet frustrated by not being able to take down a single cop. Rickman exudes calm brutality throughout with no redeeming properties whatsoever, in other words, the perfect bad guy. Another great turn is by Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell, the LA policeman who goes against his bosses to help McClane, making sure he gets the support he needs to defeat the terrorists.

The action is amazing with some incredibly imaginative sequences centred around the high rise, particularly some harrowing scenes on the roof. This is not action for the squeamish with some truly nasty, personal, violence leaving us in no doubt as to how it will all turn out. There will be blood. The story is pretty much bad guys vs good guys with the twist that the good guy really is alone in his struggles with police and FBI not terribly supportive. There are some interesting twists and turns but we all know how it will end despite the incredible odds.

It is clear to see why “Die Hard” spawned four sequels that lasted right up until 2013 with “A Good Day to Die Hard” as the ultimate “against all odds” film, a theme throughout the series. “Die Hard” is an enjoyable action romp with more than a bit of violence but great dialogue, action and enough twists to keep us entertained.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2022-01-02

Directed by: John McTiernan

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Year: 1988

Length: 132 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure