Stuff I Watch in December: Die Hard (1988)

Happy Holidays and welcome! We are counting down the days until December 25th and, in that time, I will be reviewing each and every Christmas/holiday film I watch during the month. They’re mostly a selection of films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

Holiday Inn (1942)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
White Christmas (1954)
Santa Claus (1959)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
I Believe in Santa Claus (1984)
Lethal Weapon (1986)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Die Hard (1988)

die hard

DIRECTOR: John McTiernan who would also direct the fantastic Predator and who would return to this franchise seven years later to direct the stylish third film, Die Hard With a Vengeance.

WHAT IS IT?: Only the big daddy of all Christmas films. This sucker has cemented itself as a Christmas much-watch. It’s not just an action film, it’s an experience, with expert direction, noir influence, and great performances by both Bruce Willis and the late, great Alan Rickman.

THE PLOT: New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) reluctantly returns to California during Christmas in order to spend time with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedillia) and his kids. After visiting his wife’s workplace during her company Christmas party at Nakatomi Tower in Los Angeles, a group of terrorists invade the building and take everyone hostage as a smokescreen for their true purpose: stealing financial assets and various priceless items from the Nakatomi vault.

The problem is that the terrorists manage to grab everyone BUT John who manages to escape during the initial siege. At first, John attempts to get the LAPD involved so he doesn’t have to — but the cops believe he’s a prank caller and ignore his calls for help due to an earlier false alarm call to the fire department. Alone and weary, John has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But as he begins picking off the crew of mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), he finds out how quickly things can get personal — especially since Gruber unknowingly has the key bargaining chip in John’s wife, Holly.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: Reviews for the film were mixed. Roger Ebert gave it two stars. A ton of critics thought it was too violent. It was the movie-going audiences that lauded the film and declared it a classic. Rightfully so. Years later, Die Hard is considered an absolute classic.

die hard

WHAT DID I THINK?: I don’t have to tell you why I watch this at Christmas.

You should already know that.

Die Hard is a classic action movie, even all these years later. It’s taut, suspenseful, well-executed, AWESOME.

It carries a near-mythical reputation. MORE AWESOME.

The action sequences and storytelling are top-notch. EVEN MORE awesome.

It features Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in star-making roles. ULTRA awesome.

And it takes place during Christmas. For as many machine gun rounds fired, we also get a Christmas party, complete with music, lights and trees. John uses Christmas in his mental games with Hans and his crew.

Mark Kamen’s musical score is a masterpiece as he helps power the film to absolute operatic perfection by weaving Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” throughout the film.

Die Hard isn’t one of Shane Black’s films but it IS one of the reasons Black didn’t stop supplying us with a steady stream of action flicks set during Christmas after the success of this and Lethal Weapon, which he wrote. All of this elevates everything and makes the movie feels truly grand.

This isn’t up for debate. Die Hard is one of the greatest Christmas films of all-time.

GRADE: A

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