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"Die Hard" is the prototype type for the modern action film. Since it's
also one of the best action films ever made, that happens to be a very
thing. "Die Hard" is lean, mean, and doesn't contain a single second of
wasted screen time. The direction, the action, the story, the acting . . .
every aspect of this film comes close to big-budget action movie
Since "Die Hard" was first released in 1988, it's difficult to think of a
blockbuster action film that doesn't follow the basic structure and format
of "Die Hard" . . . or, for that matter, is better than "Die Hard".
"Die Hard" is about John McClane (Bruce Willis, in one of his all-time best film performances), a basically good, honest New York cop with a penchant for annoying authority figures. Traveling to Los Angeles in a last ditch attempt to patch things up with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), John McClane suddenly finds himself involved in a hostage situation. Terrorists, led by the enigmatic Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), have taken over the office building in which Holly is working, and with Gruber holding the upper hand over the LAPD and FBI forces in Los Angeles, it's up to John McClane to save the day . . . .
Kudos should be given to both director John McTiernan and screenwriters Jeb Stuart and Steven DeSouza -- the film is tight, electrifying, and clever, which is something few action films can ever claim. The story isn't completely believable, but it's believable enough, and it manages to move along at a quick enough pace to where the most glaring plotholes can easily be glossed over. There's also enough twists and wrinkles thrown into the story to keep the audience guessing as to what's going to happen next . . . and the surprises don't come out of left field, but are actually clever and well thought-out. (The fact that McClane often relies on his brains instead of his bullets to get out of his predicaments is also a big plus.) Simply put, "Die Hard" is one of the smartest and savviest action screenplays ever written. McTiernan holds up his end of the film admirably as well -- he uses the claustrophobic nature of the office building to great effect (particularly in any scene involving an elevator shaft), and he keeps the film rolling at a rollercoaster pace, building up the anticipation of the audience before unleashing the action. A lot of recent action films just fly along at a mindless, breakneck pace, without ever allowing the story to breathe or the suspense to build . . . unlike those films, "Die Hard" knows how to maximize the impact of each and every scene, and that's why it stands out so clearly from them all. With "Die Hard", John McTiernan puts on a perfect clinic as to how to pace an action movie.
As for the acting, it's darn near close to perfect. Bruce Willis is awesome as John McClane. As played by Willis, McClane's a smartass with a distinct disdain for being given orders . . . but McClane's also clever, and knows how to keep cool under pressure. There's more to McClane than the stereotypical tough guy hero. Fortunately, the role was given to Bruce Willis, who infuses McClane with the perfect mix of cocky arrogance and stone-cold heroism. The fact that Willis plays McClane as a man often in disbelief of his own situation, and who struggles in his fight against bad guys instead of just killing bad guys with ease, like most stereotypical action heroes -- well, not only does it make the character much more believable, it's darn brilliant. (The fact that Willis also knows how to deliver a deadpan one-liner better than anybody else in Hollywood makes the character all the better.) There's only a handful of movies where both character and actor are a completely perfect match; Bruce Willis as John McClane is one such perfect match.
Also worthy of mention is Alan Rickman's performance as the villain Hans Gruber. The Machiavellian Gruber would've been an easy villain to turn into little more than a scenery-chewing Bond villain . . . fortunately, Rickman doesn't travel the easy route. Gruber, as played by Rickman, is cold and calculating, and actually acts smart, instead of merely claiming to be smart and then being thoroughly outwitted by the hero. He always appears to have an ace hidden up his sleeve, and is so convincing at giving this impression, it's hard to tell throughout the film whether he or McClane truly have the upper hand. Other actors probably could've played Gruber fairly well, but Rickman makes Gruber one of the all-time great villains. As for the rest of the cast, they're all pretty good. Bonnie Bedelia does a nice job as John's soon-to-be-ex-wife Holly -- she plays her with enough smarts and feistiness to break the usual "damsel in distress" mold. It's also worth mentioning that Paul Gleason, who plays the obstinate police chief Robinson, pretty much sets up the modern action movie stereotype of the authority figure who refuses to heed the advice of the maverick hero. The character is stupid to a fault, and he's wonderful because of it.
"Die Hard" is a terrific example of what happens when all the pieces of a film fall together perfectly. There simply are no weak spots or dull moments in the film. Is "Die Hard" one of the best overall movies ever made? Probably not. But it's undeniably one of the best action movies ever made, and it just might well be the perfect modern action film. Grade: A
One could claim that 1988's "Die Hard" is one of the most influential
action movies ever made because it basically revolutionized one of the
most copied (but never matched, at least in terms of quality) formulas:
a loner, by some unique twist of fate, battles it out with an "x"
number of terrorists in an enclosed environment.
By the time that "Die Hard" was released, the action movies were most often dominated by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Chuck Norris. Star Bruce Willis, whose only notable credits at the time were television's "Moonlighting" and 1987's "Blind Date," which was released the year before, was the unlikeliest of them all.
Willis was a wild card - an unlikely choice for the role of our hero "John McClane" - since he didn't have any action credits on his resume' and let's face it: Bruce Willis just didn't have the bulging biceps required for a role like this. But that's the beauty of his performance in this movie: he's an everyday guy, caught in a not-so-everyday situation.
On Christmas, McClane's estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) invites him from New York all the way out to Los Angeles to spend the holidays with the family. But it requires him to make a stop at the Nakatomi offices, which is having an after-hours Christmas party. Riding for the first time in a limo, he's introduced to the suave driver, Argyle (De'voreaux White), who gives him some pretty useful advice on trying to win over the wife.
At Nakatomi, things of course get off to a rough start for McClane, as he gets into an argument with the wife and is left to wallow in his misery. However, those problems are about to take a backseat to the real "party" - twelve terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (all-purpose bad guy Alan Rickman, perfectly cast) - seize control of the building and proceed to rob the Nakatomi building of its assets, most of which include negotiable bonds and other valuables. But they didn't count on the "fly in the ointment" (pain in the a**) to make things hell for these so-called party crashers.
Certainly one of the best known action movies ever, "Die Hard" did receive the scorn of critics upon its 1988 summer release, but the audiences sung a completely different tune.
The film was most often praised for the production, with the brand-new Fox Plaza office tower serving as the fictional Nakatomi building. It was also praised for the energetic and skillful direction of John McTiernan, whose most notable credit was the action-sci-fi thriller "Predator," which was released the year before and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bruce Willis was the perfect actor for this performance, since he brings the wit and vulnerability to a role like this one. If Stallone or Schwarzenegger were in this movie, I'm sure the effect would have been a lot different.
Personally, I think "Die Hard" is one of the greatest action movies ever, up there close to my favorite action movie of all time, "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Like Indiana Jones in that film, "Die Hard" had an Everyman cast in the role; McClane, like Indiana Jones, wasn't a larger-than-life musclebound grotesque: he was a real guy that you cared about, who got hurt, and had real feelings.
That's why I think both of these movies have sort of stood the test of time as becoming what they are best known for today: action classics, and they're here to stay, ladies and gentlemen.
Seeing 'Die Hard' for the first time as a teenager was a one-of-a-kind
experience. This level of raw, "edge-of-your-seat" action was unknown
to me prior to this film; it made my head spin and the intensity of it
was nearly unbearable. When it was over, I could only think of one
For a long time - at least in western cinema - the only "true" action movies (by that I mean films that were all about the action and you went to see them because of the action) were the 'James Bond' movies. They had the most unreal stunts and crazy, over the top action sequences that you could imagine at the time, and they were (and still are) great fun. However, they usually lacked three vital ingredients:
1. A sense of realism (meaning: the hero is only human and can get hurt)
2. Grit (messy, unpolished action, dirty people and LOTS of swearing)
3. R-rated violence (showing the audience what real weapons do to the human body)
Well, it took John McTiernan to bring those three key elements together in 'Die Hard' - and thus the modern action film was born (it had a good run through the late eighties until the end of the nineties then the studios figured out they could maximise the box-office by taming down the swearing, violence and sex and thus, alas, the contemporary, toothless PG-13 action film was born). Sure, there have been a couple of others before McTiernan's masterpiece ('First Blood', 'Terminator', 'Predator' - which was also by McTiernan - or 'Lethal Weapon' and probably some more), but those films could have fallen into any number of other categories as well ('Adventure-/Survival-/War-', 'Sci- Fi', 'Horror-' or 'Buddy-movie') and I can't think of another film that was just such a relentless, pure-action-from-the-beginning-to-the-end film as was 'Die Hard'. To me, it's the ultimate thrill ride. The formula has since been repeated so many times, but the original still sets the standard by which I judge an action film. Should be seen every Christmas. 10 stars out of 10.
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054200841/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
Quite possibly the best modern action movie since the classic "Dirty
"Die Hard" simply rocks. Based on the interesting novel "Nothing Lasts
Forever" by Roderick Thorp, "Die Hard" made headlines for its combination
a terrific cast, excellent script, amazing action sequences and superb
direction. Headed up by screen favorite Bruce Willis (The Sixth Sense),
"Die Hard" also features the talented Alan Rickman (Galaxy Quest) and
Bedelia (Needful Things). Directed by action veteran John McTiernan, the
mastermind behind such action spectaculars as "Predator", "The Hunt For Red
October", "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1999), and "Die Hard With A
In the role that shot him to stardom, Willis plays Detective John McClane, a hard-hitting cop from New York on Christmas Vacation in LA. He is there to visit his wife (whom he is separated from), Holly Gennaro, who recently got a great job working for the Nakatomi corporation and has permanently moved to Los Angeles with their two children. John arrives at Nakatomi Plaza expecting a fun Christmas party and a relaxing night. Man was he wrong! A few minutes after getting settled, twelve gun-toting Eastern Europeans take the entire 30th floor hostage. The supposed terrorists are headed up by the brilliant megalomaniac Hans Gruber (Rickman), who actually wants the $640 million dollars inside the floor's vault. Somehow, McClane escapes upstairs armed only with a handgun and starts causing a ruckus, slowly hunting down each well-equipped thug.
"Die Hard" succeeds is because it presents every challenge McClane has to face realistically and clearly. As the tension mounts, the ordeals for John become increasingly harder. First, it's just a terrorist. Then a whole slew of them. Later, it's the NYPD and even the FBI! Director McTiernan gives the film a good pace and makes the film work by showing that John isn't superhuman; he only uses his brain more than his gun. Also, screenwriters Jeb Stuart (The Fugitive) & Steven E. De Souza (48 Hrs.) add touches of humor that lighten up the viewer and classic one-liners ("Yippy-Ki-Yay, !@#$") that ignite the screen. Their subplots actually add to the story instead of overcomplicating it, especially one featuring good cop Sgt. Al Powell (Rejinald VelJohnson of TV's "Family Matters").
Overall, this movie was awesome. Willis is very believable and has significant screen presence. Character development is superb, and even though Stuart and De Souza leave some loose ends untied - like how a man gets hung with a chain and still comes back for more - the film remains to be an action classic. Note to Parents: the nudity, drug use, continual profanity, and extreme violence would make this a bad choice for kids under 13. Otherwise, see "Die Hard" ASAP! Overall Rating: *** Worth 9 out of 10 dollars ***
So many things made this movie great.
This movie made Bruce Willis immortal. He soaks up this character so well, it was him. The wise cracking cop who is entertaining because he is sarcastically funny not uttering stupid catch phrases. He is a cop who looks like a normal guy, middle age, loosing some hair with wife problems. (no faked up pretty face with shaved chest and oiled muscles). He is cool without pretending to be cool. He manages to thwart the bad guys while barefoot, man that is a great twist.
The plot is great because it does not fall perfectly in line for the hero. He stumbles, gets stuck and survives only by last minute thinking. It has plenty of action without getting ridiculous.
And the bad guys are great, smart sinister and well acted.
It is one of those movies that could play every weekend and would still be watched. Is one of those top 10 movies every guy should own.
Die hard 2 was OK but not as good as the original, I wish they would have stopped after 2. Die Hard 3 is poor.
In the Sixties, author Roderick Thorp wrote a novel, The Detective,
which was turned into a movie, starring Frank Sinatra in the title role
of Joe Leland. A sequel was written, in which Joe becomes trapped in
the Claxxon Oil Corporation skyscraper after it is taken over by German
terrorists and he has to rescue his daughter and grandchildren. Two
decades later, the skyscraper becomes Nakatomi, the daughter becomes
the wife, Leland becomes John McClane and the title becomes Die Hard.
To say that Die Hard sets new standards for action movies is like calling Bill Gates well off. The movie was so innovative and groundbreaking that dozens of rip-offs followed - Passenger 57, Under Siege, Cliffhanger, Sudden Death, et al. Hostage/terrorist movies were all the rage in the early Nineties.
Very few came close, because Die Hard had so many strong points, not least of which was Alan Rickman's marvellous performance, as Hans Gruber - also the name of the villain in Our Man Flint - the classically educated, smartly dressed terrorist leader. This is not some hammy guy in a chain-mail shirt with spikes on his gloves (Commando). Gruber would have been well at home on Wall Street.
His plan is to break into the vault on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Plaza and take away $640million in negotiable bearer bonds. When he and his 12 European henchmen round up the office workers, who are enjoying a Christmas Eve party, one man slips away unnoticed. He is John McClane, a New York cop who has come to LA to settle down with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). The odds are against him. But that's just the way he likes it.
The terrorists even have names. And we remember them. Most action movies these days have unidentified heavies, played by stunt men, who are lined up and knocked over.
In his battle to save his Holly, McClane is scorched, torched, beaten and blown up. He jumps off the roof and falls through air ducts. He uncovers deception and double-cross and picks broken glass out of his bare feet. No help comes from the naive and incompetent police, who are unable to get inside, and even less from the FBI.
McClane is not a supercop. He is an ordinary guy, who doesn't want a fight. When he is shot, he bleeds. He hurts. All he has are his pants, his vest, his gun - which runs out of ammo. This is the first realistic connection the audience has. When you don't want to be in McClane's position, it makes for much excitement.
John McTiernan, who's only previous mainstream movie was Predator, uses awesome photography and technical skills to give the film a truly polished and sophisticated look - it was nominated for four technical Academy Awards. He also allows for enough time for decent character development, most of which comes between McClane and a cop (Reginald Veljohnson) he makes friends with on a CB radio.
Die Hard manages to be heart-pounding and teeth-gritting every single time. And if you are one of those many people who have only ever been able to watch it on TV then now is definitely the time to rediscover a cool, classic and creative action picture.
Every so often,a film comes along that resets the standard for it's genre.Die Hard did just that very thing for action films.Any film that inspires copycats and wannabes really does it's job well.Bruce Willis made a very successful transition from the small screen to the big screen as the everyday Joe forced into being the hero.This film has all the necessary ingredients to qualify it as a great action film.All you have to do is see it for yourself.Particularly well done is the performance of Alan Rickman as the chief villain,Hans Gruber.You can come up with good arguments for many action films as to which is the best all time,and this one is no exception.Well done.
Prepare yourselves for one of the most action packed thrill rides starring
one of the best action stars in Hollywood. Bruce Willis is stirring up
trouble for the bad guys in "Die Hard." In the first of three awesome
he stars as Lt. John McClane, a New York police officer, who has been
invited to the wrong Christmas party.
This is an action film for future actors and directors to watch and use as a model because it describes what an action film should contain. I have seen many action films in my life, but this ranks at the top of my list because it has all the right components. Action packed sequences, explosions, special effects and most of all superb performances with excellent dialogue.
"Die Hard" is a movie I will not soon forget because the story is so well crafted. Though there are no twists or curves thrown at the audience, the audience can be assured they will be treated to two hours of non-stop action from beginning to end.
"Die Hard" did not only produce great action and explosions but future stars as well. I am talking about Clarence Gilyard Jr. who now stars in Walker, Texas Ranger and Reginald VelJohnson who starred in the series Family Matters. These two actors were pivotal to this film in their respective roles.
Two other names to keep in mind while thinking of key performers are Bonnie Bedelia and Alan Rickman. I was blown away when I saw the impact they had on this film. It is as if they came in and said 'Okay boys, watch out I'm taking over." They certainly did that; however, nobody could have done better than the impact performer himself Bruce Willis.
On a scale of 1-10; "Die Hard" is given a 100 by yours truly. My only regret would be that the movie ended. I wish there was more to see in this film. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE "DIE HARD" AGAIN.
Bruce Willis gives a amazing performance in perhaps one of the best movies of the 1980s. This is an action/adventure movie for the ages. There are a lot of great scenes, including the scene where Bruce Willis leaps off the rooftop and crashes trough the window. I never thought it would be so good when I first saw it, but I was wrong. Don't miss one of Willis' best films of all time.
Based on ex cop Roderick Thorpe's 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, Die
Hard, directed by John McTiernan, changed the face of the action movie.
Starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald
Veljohnson, Alexander Godunov, William Atherton & Paul Gleason,
McTiernan's movie went on to make over $100 million in profit at the
box office alone. Spawning three equally successful sequels (at the
time of writing), it began a franchise that showed that if done well,
the action movie could be a dominant force in the world of cinema.
The set up is relatively simple, Willis plays New York cop John McLane who during the Christmas holidays is in L.A. to visit his estranged wife Holly (Bedelia). She works for the Japanese Corporation of Nakatomi, and currently she's attending the company Christmas party up on the 30th floor of the humongous Nakatomi Plaza tower block. Bad day at the office because a group of apparent German terrorists, led by the charismatic Hans Gruber (Rickman), take the whole building hostage: with one exception; McLane, who evades capture and launches a one man war against the terrorists.
What follows is just over two hours of high octane action, smart dialogue and technical smarts. McTiernan had already endeared himself to the action movie fan with the ball busting beef stew that was Predator in 87, a fact not lost on Die Hard's co producer Joel Silver, who clearly knew that McTiernan could smoothly shift the action from the Val Verde jungle to the urban jungle of L.A. And he did. Next was to get the right man for McLane. Richard Gere was first choice but passed, so the makers took a gamble on Willis, whose career was at a standstill after his leap from TV show Moonlighting on to the big screen with the likes of Blind Date & Sunset barely making a ripple in Hollywood. The rest for Willis, as they say, is history. McLane is an everyman hero, streetwise, even slobbish, but identifiable to many with his work ethics, desperate heroics and emotional vulnerability. Willis attacks the role with a hunger rarely seen from the big male earners in filmdom. During the two hours and ten minute running time of Die Hard, Willis as McLane changed the face of the action hero for ever; even making a dirty white vest iconic in the process; the latter of which couples nicely with the hero being bare footed throughout for a nifty bit of writing.
Across the board the casting is flawless, Bedelia is spunky and driven, a woman worth fighting for. Veljohnson as beat copper Al Powell-McLane's walkie-talkie buddy and only link to the outside world-is memorable because it feels real, he has his own issue gnawing away at him, but his exchanges with Willis keeps the humanity grounded as the carnage unfolds. Gleason & Atherton are wonderfully anal as Deputy Police Chief and TV Reporter respectively, while Hart Bochner as Ellis dishes out one of the best weasel turns to have ever graced a movie featuring corporate suit types. But as Die Hard resembles the great Westerns of yesteryear, much like the great Oaters, Die Hard could only be as good as its chief villain. As Willis' McLane ushered in a new action hero to copy, Rickman's uber intelligent villain set a new benchmark.
Snappily dressed, well versed and as charming as they come, Gruber in Rickman's hands is a villain you could quite easily root for! That's further testament to Willis' turn that Rickman doesn't walk away with the movie, both men are from different sides of the fence, good and evil, yet both are characters you can hang your hat on. Quite a trick from McTiernan that. Rickman is ably supported by the scary Godunov as right hand man Karl and Clarence Gilyard Jr. as the cold hearted Theo. Elsewhere the impact of Robert Davi & Grand L. Bush as the two cocksure FBI agents Johnson & Johnson (no relation) should not be underestimated. All the actors, of course, are indebted to the sizzling script by Steven E. de Souza & Jeb Stuart. So to is praise due to photographer Jan de Bont, who in collaboration with McTiernan, produces a camera work lesson for action movies, as the camera swoops in and around the tower, down elevator shafts and up tilt to roofs; with the fight scenes afforded a spatial sheen not expected in the confines of a tower block setting (the film was actually shot at 20th Century Fox's own 2121 Fox Plaza). Even the scoring from Michael Kamen and the sound tracking are of a high standard; check out the various "mood" uses of Beethoven's Ode to Joy from Symphony No.9 and Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major: Brilliant.
The 80s was well served by action movies with the likes of Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop proving massively popular. But just as Raiders Of The Lost Ark changed the game for action/adventure, so too did Die Hard. It's now the benchmark movie for action, a film that unlike Hills Cop & Lethal Weapon remarkably shows no signs of ageing either. It's no monkey in the wrench or a fly in the ointment, it's the daddy, and the one that all other action movies have to answer to. 10/10
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