October 6, Flying from New York to San Francisco: I forgot all about Die Hard in the first couple of rounds of adding titles to the Thirty-Three Project. I’ve never claimed it to be one of my favorite movies. It falls outside the realm of the film school classics (Fellini, Coppola, Godard, etc). But it struck me in a flash: one cannot watch the best movies of all time and not watch Die Hard.
Everything about this movie is perfect. It’s a Christmas movie, after all! Bruce Willis is incredible as the character known as Bruce Willis (in all his subsequent films). Alan Rickman, the same. And Los Angeles in the 1980s is resplendent in its furtive cocaine use, Japanese businessmen, and fast-talking limo drivers.
Beyond a veneer though, this is such an excellent 1980s film because its villains are so perfectly cynical. “You want money? What kind of terrorists are you?” asks the doomed Japanese executive. Rickman’s “Hans Gruber” is a known German terrorist, but here he’s all about the money. Hundreds of millions of dollars. Terrorism in Die Hard throws ideology out the window in favor of a complex heist. And Gruber plays everyone’s expectations of the ideologue perfectly (“Asian Dawn? Who’s that?” “I read about them in TIME Magazine.”) Such an eighties story.
Most of all, though, it’s just such a fun and well-written action movie. There are no forced lines— even a solid gold catch-phrase like “Yippee Kay Yay motherfucker” makes perfect sense in the story. You buy McClain and you buy the villains and the asshole FBI agents. And you love the body with the sweatshirt that reads: “Now I have a machine gun Ho Ho Ho”.
Go ahead and rent yourself Die Hard. Pop some popcorn, crack open an American beer, and lean back in your recliner. Yippe Kay Yay Motherfucker.