Monday, November 4, 2013

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Die Hard


What else is there to say about "Die Hard"? The film and subsequent franchise have ingrained themselves so much into pop culture that most people are already very familiar with them (except for me evidently). As a result, I'll keep it brief.
"Die Hard" is a 1988 action film starring Bruce Willis as John McClane, a New York police officer who is visiting his wife in Los Angeles. While at a Christmas party hosted by his wife's company, he gets involved in a dangerous hostage situation. Trapped in a tall office building by German terrorists, McClane must use all his crime-busting experience to ward off these perpetrators.
What follows is a thrilling exercise in action filmmaking. As the criminals carry out their extortionist plot, there's a growing sense of danger and anticipation. Hans Gruber is a genuinely intimidating villain, while John McClane is the ultimate badass. The clash of these strong personalities is the exhilarating driving force of this movie. Indeed, it has many exciting scenes, but what most surprised me was how subdued the overall plot is. For the most part, this is merely a battle of wits between McClane and Gruber, which adds some intelligence to the surface-level thrills. Thus, when we do get the explosions and gunplay, it's very effective. It's a sign of strong direction, as John McTiernan makes full use of Willis' movie star appeal and the labyrinth-esque setting.
In many ways, "Die Hard" is a fascinating curio of its time. It's equal parts corny (yippee-ki-yay anyone?), thrilling and intense, much like many other mainstream films from the 1980s. The dialogue dates it a bit, but it holds up well due to the crowd-pleasing aspects. That's my biggest takeaway from watching "Die Hard". This film is just so much fun! It's no wonder they decided to milk the character and concept for all it's worth.

This film is part of my List of Shame.

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