Cinemalphabet: D is for Die Hard (of course!)
Hey look, it’s a Clip Show:
What can I say about a film I have adored for what seems like eternity. A film that brought Robert Davi, Alan Rickman and Bruno into my life. A film that shares the rarefied air of “faves” with cohorts such as The Wiz, Sharky’s Machine, Three Days of the Condor and Auntie Mame. Die Hard is to me what Vietnam was to Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski. Well there’s not a literal connection…
Die Hard is the rarest of rare: a smart, funny, exciting, well-written, exceptionally cast action film that never stops being enjoyable. Bruce Willis’ performance as John McClaine is bursting at the seams with charm and wit. Alan Rickman, who is always good is utterly brilliant here. The story was even fresh (at the time). There’s a reason why many action film pitches go something like, “Well… it’s Die Hard but on a ____.”
Here’s a round up of my thoughts on the film, my relationship to it and a few bits about Bruce himself.
An action film so iconic I remember everything surrounding its introduction to my life. What I was wearing: A white Jody Watley tutu, pink shirt and pink ballerina flats. Where I was: Kansas City at an Alpha Phi Alpha convention with my family. What I was supposed to be seeing: Big Top Pee Wee. Who I was with: myself. I also remember translating all the German for the couple sitting next to me. “That bad guy is telling the other bad guy to shoot at the glass.” Of course moments later, Hans Gruber (the bad guy to end all bad guys, expertly played by Alan Rickman) said the very same thing. Oh, I could talk action films and women’s tutus all day, but unfortunately work must intrude…
I KNOW he’s a Republican. He’s also left handed. I’m not trying to start a government with the motherfucker; I’m talking about his hair and movies. And for the record, that dude done put more black folks to work than Affirmative Action. Plus he provides me with hours upon hours of solid entertainment in attractive packaging and at a price point I enjoy. What the hell have you done for my black ass lately?
While the default setting of Bond villains was megalomania cut with a side of snark, it seems like most villains in American films are entirely too unlikable. Light on charm or wit. There are some exceptions, but honestly, they can be a bit boring.
And then Hans Gruber blew into town with his merry band of terrorists, two of whom bear a striking resemblance to 80s pop stars (Huey Lewis and Sting). Despite being a rather distasteful human being, he was quite charming, articulate and didn’t really froth at the mouth except towards the end.
In real life, no Joe Schmoe cop would be able to outwit this guy, but eh, what can you do. Gruber laid the smack down in a reasonable manner and I liked how he drawled all his words as if taking hostages and taking over a building was the most boring thing on his to-do list that day.
Classic line: “Mr. Takagi, I could talk about industrialization and men’s fashion all day, but I’m afraid work must intrude, and my associate, Theo, has some questions for you. Sort of fill in the blanks questions, actually.”