TMS 30 Greatest Movies: #30 Die Hard

November 01, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Note: After looking at my compiled rankings, it was brought to my attention that I had miscalculated the score for one movie that would've put it in the Top 30. With the correction made, that bumped Children of Men to #31. We'll leave Children of Men in the TMS 30, but please note that Die Hard is the real #30.

Die Hard
Year: 1988
Genre: Action
Main Actors: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
Ranked: Brant Brown #1, Chip Wesley #26

John McClane (Willis) is a New York cop who's traveled to LA to be with his separated wife and kids for Christmas. Meeting his wife Holly(Bedelia) at her office Christmas party in the newly constructed Nakatomi Plaza, things between them get off to a rocky start. But before John can make things right, a group of German radicals led by Hans Gruber (Rickman) seize control of the building, taking all the office partygoers hostage. That is, all but McClane, who manages to escape to one of the upper floors. Quickly realizing the cops are of no help, McClane decides he'll have to take the terrorists on himself. Can he thwart Hans and his gang, save his wife and make it home for Christmas? Or is he simply the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time?

Reasons This Movie Kicks Ass
Die Hard has become the gold standard for action flicks, and breathed new life into an action genre that had grown quite stale by the late 80's. Bruce Willis' John McClane was the perfect 'anti-hero', playing by his own rules, sticking it to 'the man', and getting the living shit beat out of him along the way. The fact that John McClane was fallible and could in fact actually bleed, gave audiences a greater respect for him. The McClane character has become so entrenched in American pop culture, it's become nearly impossible to imagine anyone other than Willis playing that role, and yet he was their 5th choice for the part. Schwarzenegger was the original choice (the intial idea for the film was actually supposed to be a sequel to "Commando"), but he passed. Then they approached Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, and Richard Gere for the role before finally settling with Willis. Burt Reynolds? Richard Gere? I'm glad they went with that guy from "Moonlighting" and those Seagram's Wine Cooler commercials instead.

What else? Oh yeah, how about more explosions, shootouts, and fight scenes that you can shake your weiner at? Sprinkle in some witty one-liners and you have one of the greatest action films of all time.

Monster Role
Well obviously Bruce Willis kicks ass as John McClane, but I think Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber complimented McClane perfectly. Hans, a cool and collected villain, who has seemingly covered all the bases as far as how to handle the hostages, the cops, and the FBI, hadn't planned for a wild cowboy who plays by his own rules. Rickman, in his first feature film role, was marvelous as the sophisticated and operatic Hans.

Also I've got to give a special nod to two of the great "That Guy" character actors of the 80's, Paul Gleason and William Atherton. Both of them were excellent at playing easily hated, smarmy jerks that the audience enjoys watching when they finally get their comeuppance. Gleason, who had such roles in "Trading Places" as Clarence Beeks, and "Breakfast Club" as Principal Vernon, does a great job playing Deputy Police Chief Dwayne Robinson. Atherton, who previously had roles as EPA goon Walter Peck in "Ghostbusters", and the self-absorbed Professor Hathaway in "Real Genius", nails the role of sleazy reporter Richard Thornburg.

Knock Your Dick in the Dirt Moment
Jesus, the whole movie is one giant "dick in the dirt" moment. But if you gotta pick certain scenes, here are a few that stick out in my mind.
  • The scene where McClane drops the makeshift bomb of C4 and a computer monitor down the elevator shaft causing an entire floor of the Nakatomi building to blow up. For 1988, this was a pretty sweet scene as the special effects looked superb.
  • The broken glass scene. Eveyone should know what I'm talking about. Never, EVER, take your shoes off in an office building if there's a chance a German terrorist cell may take it over, leaving you as the only one that could possibly save the day.
  • The fight between McClane and Karl. If you took away the guns from most of the terrorists, they looked like harmless Eurotrash, but Karl was a badass and you knew the shit was gonna hit the fan when McClane and him finally met up. Hell Karl was so frickin' tough, that even in the final moments of the film when he comes back for one last shot despite having already been hung by his neck, with a bunch of chains, 20 feet off the ground, that you almost believe that he could really have done that.
Watch this movie if you like.....
Beer, cigarettes, watching Germans get the shit kicked out of them.

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.