Directed by John McTiernan
Playing Feb. 6, 9 P.M. at the Charles Theatre as part of Gunky's Basement Film Series
I came into this assignment thinking, Man, what am I going to add to the conversation about how great Die Hard is? Because if you ask someone who has seen Die Hard why they think it's such a great movie, "Um, it's Die Hard" is a typical response, perfectly acceptable to anybody who has seen Die Hard, since the movie's awesomeness is pretty much self-evident. It's spawned four sequels, including A Good Day to Die Hard, which opens Feb. 14, and all have been awesome so far, but none as awesome as the original.
But then I spoke with a City Paper colleague who said he didn't really get what all the fuss was about. (He shall remain nameless, because who wants to be ID'd in print as the guy who doesn't like Die Hard?) With that in mind, it seemed beneficial to explain the rationale behind such a simple, yet rhetorically admissible argument.
First, a plot synopsis: John McClane is a New York City cop traveling to L.A. to spend Christmas with his estranged wife and their two children. Following a brief argument over living arrangements at his wife's corporate Christmas party, the company's shiny new skyscraper is overtaken by international terrorists. McClane must single-handedly fight this gang of heavily armed Germans with guns, C4, and his all-around badass-ness, and endure the general incompetence of the L.A. Police Department and the "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality of two FBI goons.
Here's why the movie is amazing.
McClane is played by Bruce Willis, and unlike your Sly Stallones, Governators, and other action stars of the '80s, Willis is more than just a grimacing heap of muscle. He is of average build, and throughout the film he endures one ass-kicking after the next, leaving him a bloody pulp by the time it's all said and done.
He has everything we want in an action star while having the presence of an everyman, instead of some big military-trained lug. He bleeds and bruises and limps like the rest of us. In declaring his allegiance for tassle-shirted Roy Rogers over John Wayne and realizing amidst the chaos that he could have been a better father and husband, McClane shows there is more to masculinity than being a hollow, wooden man blowing away bad guys. But he also blasts the shit out of some bad guys! And it rules.
Geez, I didn't even get into the well-choreographed action scenes, great one-liners, debonair gentleman-terrorist leader played by Alan Rickman, the Twinkie-loving buddy cop played by Reginald VelJohnson, and the host of other terrific side characters-all of which push the film to the upper ranks of action cinema. Whatever. Chances are you already knew about all of these things and accepted them for their greatness.