Die Hard


Nothing conveys the Christmas spirit more than seeing Nakatomi Plaza decorated and lit up for the holidays.  That’s why this week we have to recommend Die Hard (1988).  Iconic action flick or feel good Christmas movie? You decide.  We are sure everyone has seen it already, but it is a classic worth watching again.  We checked it out for this article and it was still a thrilling and very enjoyable movie. 

The movie’s protagonist is John McClane (Bruce Willis), a NYPD Detective visiting his estranged wife out in Los Angeles.  As McClane is in the Nakatomi Plaza building for his wife’s Christmas party, a group of terrorists take over the entire building, taking hostages and carrying out their diabolic plans. 

Of course, McClain is the only one not captured and has to use is guile and skills to rescue the hostages.  He manages to elicit the help of LAPD Patrol Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) to try to save the day.

This is vintage Willis, all wisecracks and smirking asides, and he plays well off of VelJohnson’s straight-man portrayal of Al Powell.  As cops, the two are clearly very different types.  Detective McClane is clearly an aggressive, hard charging, break the rules to get the job done type of cop.  He was the guy in the precinct who was on the anti-crime team with three years on and got his gold shield being a narco-ranger.   Probably working in some OCID (Organized Crime) detail.  We have all worked with his type, hard-working, sometimes a pain in the ass, but a guy you would want with you when things went sideways. 

Al Powell is not that type.  Slow and methodical, pretty out of shape, he seems like a career patrol guy.  He is underestimated because he is not living for the job, but he is calm and competent.  We have all worked with this cop as well.  Probably towards the bottom of the squad with collars and summonses but knew how to handle his sector.  A great guy to have around when you had a magilla and needed to get home on time.  He was promoted to Sergeant and stuck with the patrol gig.  A good boss who filtered the B.S. from the important stuff.     

They’re a good pair, and they team up to tackle a very savvy group of criminals led by Hans Gruber, played iconically by an inscrutable Alan Rickman.  Hans Gruber (and Rickman) became the template for the bad guy of modern action films.  In many ways the character steals the show.  One of the all-time great villains in cinema.

The film is directed by John McTiernan.  He puts together a terrific product.  The action is almost non-stop and is interspersed with some funny moments and great lines.  The special effects are well done and really add to the film.  It’s a well thought out, even if somewhat unbelievable, story line with some twists and turns that will keep the audience engaged. 

You can check it out streaming on the Starz network or rent it through most streaming apps such as appletv or amazon video.  We would like to thank one of our readers for enlightening us about the justwatch website and app.  You can find current info on where to watch any film or show for free or behind a paywall. 

In the meantime: Merry Christmas and yippee-kai-yay…! (And if you don’t get that reference — you haven’t seen the movie!).

Christopher Flanagan


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