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Die Hard

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5 out of 5

John McClaine: Welcome to the party, pal!

Die Hard isn't just a movie, it's a spectacle. A spectacle of action. It's an event. It is the perfect definition of action movies in general and what every viewer should want to receive from that genera.

If you actually don't know the plot, the movie is about NYPD cop John McClaine (Bruce Willis) who stops by at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles for a Christmas party to visit his wife. While there, right out of the blue, a group of smart and exceedingly violent terrorists with a plan, led by the ever so ruthless Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), seize control of the building talking ahold everyone hostage, except for John who gets away. Now it's up to him to fight back!

Joseph Takagi: You want money? What kind of terrorists are you?
Hans Gruber: Who said we were terrorists?

What really drives the movie is McClaine. His sarcastic and badass attitude allows me to relate to him as a human being, maybe it's just a guy thing. His "badassery" mixed with his sheer vulnerability makes him feel like a real person. Every time I watch this movie I actually put myself in John's shoes and think "Yes, that is exactly what I would do in that scenario."

Tony: You won't hurt me.
John McClane: Oh, yeah? Why not?
Tony: Because you're a policeman. There are rules for policemen.
John McClane: Yeah. That's what my captain keeps telling me.

John and the lead terrorist Hans Gruber call for a great force of rivalry that also keeps the movie going. What makes the dynamic of these two characters work so well is that Hans, while evil, is very smart. At one point he even talks of having a classical education. Whereas John has more of a wise cracking, sarcastic street smart personification. Even with the two only spending time together face to face once throughout the entire movie, they demonstrate some of the greatest hero/villain chemistry in film history as they communicate by radio most of the time.

Hans Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us Mister Cowboy?
John McClaine: Yippie ki yay, motherf***er.

I usually don't like to address certain things as amazing because it sounds so cheesy, but with Die Hard, the action truly is amazingly brilliant. For 1988 there are some fantastic set pieces that look sick and do nothing more than solely advance the story. There are so many generically made action films out there today that have enormously expensive looking special effects which do nothing but disconnect the audience from the movie. But with Die Hard it is all kept grounded and subtle, effortlessly making everything seem incredibly intense and realistic. This all goes back to relating to the troubled John McClaine who is just trying to do the right thing.

Theo: All right, listen up guys. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except... the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.

You've also got some nice man to man moments between McClaine and Sgt. Al Powell of the LAPD (Reginald VelJohnson, Carl Winslow) who also communicates with him over a radio. Outside of the Nakatomi building, once the cops are notified of the situation there is a lot of controversy among the cops as to weather or not McClaine is who he says he is. Al (or AKA Carl) is one of the cops that believes in John.

Al Powell: Hey, Roy, how you feeling?
John McClaine: Pretty f***ing unappreciated, Al.
Al Powell: Hey, look. I love you. So do a lot of the other guys. So hang in there, man, you hear me? You hang in there.
John McClaine: Yeah, thanks, partner.

Simply put, this is action at its finest. John McTerrian of "Predator" directed Die Hard which is and probably will always be his finest achievement. It is amazing how nothing here is dated at all. Action fans everywhere look up to John McClaine as their hero. People everywhere quote his famous "Yippie Ki Yay" line all these years later. I watch it traditionally every holiday season. Why? Because it really is that great, it's something I'd kill to be able see on the big screen with a crowd. Oh, Let it snow!

John McClaine: I got invited to the wrong Christmas party. Who knew?




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