A classic Christmas debate is the center of this week’s review. From time to time, we do retro reviews and I found myself asking the question many have asked and pondered on around this time of year. “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” I’ll start this off by voicing my opinion on this. A resounding YES. It is a Christmas movie. John McClane (Willis) goes to a CHRISTMAS PARTY to see his estranged wife. He lets the villains know he “Now has a machine gun. HO, HO, HO.” Definitely a Christmas movie. I wouldn’t anticipate this airing on the Hallmark Channel though! A little backstory in this film. It’s based on the 1979 novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp. This is something I didn’t know until I started doing research on this film. Die Hard was released in 1988 and essentially changed the game for action films. Bruce Willis plays John McClane as an every man. He gets hurt. He is outnumbered. We don’t see an invincible hero (this changes in sequels unfortunately) and Alan Rickman may be one of the best villains to ever grace the screen! So how will this stack up to newer releases?
Onto the film.
It’s Christmas Eve. We open on a plane and meet John McClane (Willis) our reluctant hero of this tale. It’s clear he is nervous to be on this flight. Is it flying? Or is it seeing his estranged wife? Immediately the audience realizes this isn’t the same action heroes we are used to. He’s like us! We learn that he was invited to a Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza thrown by the Nakatomi Corporation. McClane’s wife Holly (Bedelia) works there. We meet his limo driver Argyle (White) who has never driven a limo, as John has never ridden in one. Argyle (White) is GREAT character in this film and provides comic relief throughout as he is waiting in the parking garage while McClane is fighting terrorists.
It should be mentioned that John McClane (Willis) is a New York cop, yet he’s in Los Angeles. The two cities don’t vibe much to McClane’s amusement. He’s hard nosed and as blue-collar as the come. He just wants to fix things with his wife and get through Christmas. As John (Willis) and Holly (Bedelia) talk there is tension. Things aren’t going well. She goes to mingle with the other guests, and he goes to clean up. This is where things get interesting…. Hans Gruber (Rickman) a German terrorist shows up awith his team. They all look like ex-mercenary and are heavily armed. The goal is to steal $640 million in untraceable bearer bonds. They go in, get the code from Joseph Takagi (Shigeta), the head of Nakatomi and then they leave. This does not go as planned. All the guests/coworkers are taken hostage. It’s going to take time to open the vault. McClane (Willis) here’s the commotion and hides back to make a plan and get a better gun…. First he must contact the police. In comes Al Powell (VelJohnson) who you will remember from Family Matters as the dad.) His wife
is pregnant, he’s trying to get her snacks and go home after a long shift to enjoy Christmas Eve. He’s another character you grow to love in this film.
We have established this is a Christmas film. We can agree to disagree if you don’t think so. It is. However, this is a GREAT film regardless of how you categorize it. The hero is just like one of us. The villain has layers and substance. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber shows a character with bravado and this is one of the first times in recent memoir you are intrigued by the villain yet also want him to fail. GREAT CASTING. The supporting cast from Argyle, Holly, Al Powell. The smiley Harry Ellis (Bochner) who wants to take John’s wife. They all bring value to this film. What makes this special and one of the best action films ever made is that John McClane is not invincible. Typically, you know the “good guy” will prevail. This film, almost every scene you wonder will he make it. Will he get kidnapped? Will Holly die? If you haven’t seen Die Hard yet…turn off the Hallmark Channel, pause A Christmas Story and watch this film. It’s class Bruce Willis! One of the best Christmas and action films ever made. “‘Come out the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…’”5 Stars out of 5 “Yippee-ki-yay.