Genre Grandeur – Die Hard (1988)


For the next entry in this month’s Genre Grandeur, here’s a review of Die Hard (1988) by Justine of Justine’s Movie Blog.

Next month’s Genre will be Holiday movies (it can be any film about any holiday).  To participate, just send me your review by 23rd of December to holiday@movierob.net and I’ll post it!

Take a look at what Justine thinks of Die Hard…..

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die-hard-movie-posterI’ll admit Die Hard may not be the most original choice for a favorite ’80s action flick. But in a way, it breaks the mold of all the other shoot ’em up action movies with the really muscular heroes and overwhelmingly cheesy dialogue. Yeah, I love all those other movies too, but Die Hard won me over with a simple, yet skillfully written plot and a great, sarcastic main character who is basically just an ordinary guy thrown into an extraordinary situation.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a New York cop who is visiting Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to see his estranged wife, Holly, (Bonnie Bedelia), who is attending an office Christmas party in the Nakatomi building. Shortly after he arrives, a group of German terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) storm the building and take the workers hostage while they try to break into a vault holding $600 million in bonds. With no one able to get in or out, John attempts to stop the terrorists and save the hostages all on his own, with some helpful encouragement over a radio with an LAPD officer (Reginald VelJohnson).

diehard1Die Hard was Bruce Willis’ breakout action role, setting him up for a long career where he would play many kinds of action heroes. The thing I love about Bruce Willis is that he doesn’t have to be a jacked up, muscular macho man to be a hero, he’s just a regular kind of guy who can incorporate the perfect deadpan humor into most of his roles. John McClane is such a likeable character because he faces a lot of serious situations with some great sarcasm. Let’s not forget that he’s also a badass, but he’s not invincible. He takes a pretty good beating throughout the movie, enough to generate some kind of sense of danger and suspense when he’s backed into a corner.

Die Hard also features one of the best villains I’ve seen in an ’80s action movie. Hans Gruber is well-dressed, intelligent, and manages to remain eerily calm even when the police and the FBI show up. There’s an underlying reason for this, of course, but it makes you feel like he can’t be easily subdued. Alan Rickman had his feature film debut as the sinister Hans Gruber, and proved early on in his career he’s pretty good at being the villain.

diehard2The film has a lot of great action in it, but it’s not nonstop. Even the hero takes some moments to rest. The thing is, he’s not going from room to room and shooting up all the enemies like he’s the Terminator. He’s merely–as he calls it–a fly in the ointment. Even in the beginning Hans treats him as nothing more than a minor annoyance, and that’s what he is for a lot of the film. He runs around barefoot the whole time and deals with face-to-face encounters with the enemies when they happen to arise. It gives a little bit more realism to a movie in a mostly unrealistic genre, and I respect it for that. But, of course, we don’t watch action movies for realism, so you have your typical explosions and shoot-outs, and you also have the incompetent law enforcement doing nothing to help. There’s enough excitement here for anyone to get their action fix, but it’s all done really well.

It also seems kind of aware that it’s a movie being thrown into an overflowing pool of already existing action movies of its time. At one point, Hans even attributes McClane’s actions to watching too many movies as a child and accuses him of thinking he’s John Wayne or Rambo, to which McClane replies he prefers Roy Rogers. Incidentally this leads to McClane being referred to as a cowboy and his famous retort, “yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.” I’ve always loved that line. Die Hard wanted to stand out from the rest of its kind, and I think it managed to do that for the most part.

diehard3Die Hard is one of those ’80s action flicks I can watch over and over. I’ve always been a big fan of Bruce Willis even though he’s taken a lot of really terrible roles. To me, he’ll still always be John McClane, one of my favorite action heroes of that time. This is a fun classic with a lot to offer fans of the genre. The numerous sequels that have been made throughout the years have tried to match the brilliance of the first, but unfortunately have failed. They’ve showed that old action franchises really do die hard. I’ll say that as a franchise, it’s not so good, but as a stand alone film, Die Hard is pretty great.

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Thanks again to Justine for this awesome review of definitely one of the greatest action flicks of the 80’s

10 thoughts on “Genre Grandeur – Die Hard (1988)

  1. Pingback: Genre Grandeur November Finale – Big Trouble in Little China (1986) |

  2. Pingback: [Reviews] Movie Review: Die Hard - TakuChat

  3. Pingback: Die Hard (1988) – Encore Review 5 (Podcast – LAMB MOTM) |

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