Okay so there’s this guy, not really a superhero…as a matter of fact most of the people who meet him think he’s kind of a pain in the tail. He’s on a trip to visit estranged family, it being Christmas time and all. And then all hell breaks loose.Released in 1988 shortly after the end of his hit series Moonlighting, Die Hard represented quite a risk for all involved. Bruce was untested in the realm of action movies at the time, as it turned out the central character was enough of a match to not only make him but a whole genre popular for years to come.
When the bad guys grab control, John McClaine is the only one who escapes their grasp. He then proceeds to lead the terrorists in a cat and mouse game through the empty floors of an office building. He becomes that most American of film icons, the ‘one person’ standing between order and chaos.
It struck me seeing it again how well the visuals hold up over time, the film doesn’t look like 1988. The only thing I noticed that dated the picture at all was the packaging of some of the well known products that make cameo appearances. I found this pretty impressive; John McTiernan really does shoot some nice looking movies.
The pacing grabs you by the lapels and pushes you along past every pesky plot hole that might interfere with your enjoyment. The cast is well placed, and it boasts not one but two of the great character actors from the 80’s. William Atherton (Ghostbusters) and Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) both turn in solid performances in a-hole roles that they wear like comfortable clothing.
In addition, Alan Rickman shines as the head baddie Hans Gruber. A lesser actor might have disappeared behind all of the explosions. This proves invaluable as it gives Bruce Willis a worthy foil to bounce his trademark smart-ass character against.It really is pretty silly, but I’m amazed at how close it cuts to being out and out laughable. If the mix had been off just a little, it would have been a wholly forgettable film. As it is, it stands up quite well all these years later.