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Die Hard (1988) - My Big Fat Bite Out of the Dated Cliché Action Flic


Posters... Some are good, some are bad
Posters... Some are good, some are bad

Genre: Crime Action

Starring: Bruce Willis (Sin CityGrindhouse), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter Serial • Dogma)

Directed By: John McTiernan (PredatorThe Hunt For Red October)

Overview: NYPD officer John McLean visits his estranged wife in L.A. only to discover the building she's in has been taken hostage by terrorists.

Yeah, I'll admit it. Watching Die Hard did actually feel like I was slumming it with the mainstream crowd, but when Blu-Ray decides to get their Action on, who am I to complain?

Quickly, for those of you who live under a rock, Die Hard is the story of how Bruce Willis interferes with a Japanese Christmas office party's entertainment, namely a hoard of Germanic Visigoths dressed in suits and automatic weapons. Not knowing that they're an integral part of the evening's gaiety, Bruce decides to take their pyrotechnics, even using them against the delightful band, his primary motive being a tremendous fear of Nazi Party clowns. Also he likes the idea of blowing up his estranged wife.

Sadly, I will say that I felt all too greatly the prickly sting from those quirky 'you gotta be kidding me' moments that we in the industry call 'suspension of disbelief'. I mean come on, carrying a pistol on an airplane? Carl Otis Winslow of "Family Matters" as a cop?! Smoking in an airport? Please, what is this, the 80s?

More than anything, I think Die Hard reminded me how much simpler the world once was. Little things really, like 'continuity'. Bruce Willis in his white Wife Beater that slowly gets bloody and dirty as the day goes by, until Bruce drags himself through an air duct. As soon as he pops out, his Wife Beater, including the very tops of the shoulders, becomes a nice drab brown, I guess because it was too hard for the continuity guy to keep a white wife beater bloody and dirty...?!

But let us move on to more important and irksome plot devices, namely the pre post-9/11 emergency response. Remember, in the 80s, when you could contact the local authorities on a secure radio channel and freak out about terrorists taking over the building, detailing their numbers as well as the weapons they're carrying, and when you're done, the person at the other end tells you to stop pranking and to get off the channel? Oh 80s, you were like a beautiful big red flag to us all about National Security. You so coy.

Now for as much as the action in Die Hard is your typical 'standing close enough with your gun to get distracted and punched out' and 'bad guys can't shoot straight' and 'cure your getting hurt scene by following it up with a limping scene', the witty dialogue is really fun. If you can ignore the stupidly awkward moments where the desk jockey cop knows better than the lieutenant or the FBI, and if you can ignore the moments where Willis and Carl Winslow cop are bonding touchy feely moments where they share their personal garbage, well, you'll have a pretty fun time.

T-Shirts... Some are good, some are bad, some are just plain threatening
T-Shirts... Some are good, some are bad, some are just plain witty

Performance: 7 Cinematography: 8 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 74% (Yippie Kai Aye... Sir.)

For as much as I love a nice Criterion, Silent or Avant-Garde film, everybody needs some guns and 'splosions sometimes, and toss in that it's available on Blu-Ray well duh. Yet for as much as Die Hard has earned in place in the annals of time, especially as IMDb's #130th must see film, its current permutation, Live Free Or Die Hard, is actually more enjoyable, mainly because it's just that - more current.

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