Film: Die Hard

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The latest Die Hard film (AKA “Let’s blow the shit out of Moscow”) is not good.  Here is a mini review of the original that appeared on my second website over a decade ago:

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As action films go, this still has not been surpassed.

The story is a basic one, and one you probably know – a group of terrorists break up a Christmas party so that they can steal over $640m of negotiable bonds. John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York cop, takes them on from the inside.

So, what makes this film so good? The script is a belter – dark humour bristles throughout. The performances are first class – Willis is perfect for the role, Alan Rickman rules supreme. Rickman’s head terrorist is fiercely intelligent, informed, vicious, heartless. What else could you want?

“Glass? Who gives a shit about glass?!”

For me, the biggest difference though is that McClane is not a hero. Bullets do not bounce off him, or land an inch from his feet. He suffers. By the end he looks like death warmed up. Making him barefoot is just a little detail in a script, but adds so much to the film.

“Five million terrorists in the world and I have to kill one with feet smaller than my sister”

This film also has a lot to answer for – even over a decade later, films are still using this as a reference. For a while every action flick was “Die Hard on a ….” boat, train, plane, whatever. Die Hard 2 takes some justification, too.

“I was always kind of partial to Roy Rogers, actually”

Also, this is the film that started the spiral in actors’ pay to the point that A-list stars now command $20m a throw. Willis was paid $3m – a big wage in those days; he was just a TV actor trying to break into film. His first film had flopped, so where was the justification for his pay-day? And off it went…

So you think you’ve seen it? Try it again – this is the best actioner around.

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