Die Hard is an iconic movie in its own right, and a powerhouse of a classic. It spawned John McClane’s catchphrase “Yippee-Ki-Yay, motherfucker!” and keeps me captivated every year as I watch him pick off terrorist after terrorist without mercy. But we all know it is more than that, right? It’s about family, about a man protecting his family from harm and evil, about togetherness and love! It is also about one man, pulling off a Christmas miracle, not only winning the heart of his lady back but, with the odds heavily stacked against him, saving the day and telling the world that we don’t negotiate with terrorists! Finally, it is about Carl Winslow getting his career as a police officer back and Hans Gruber finding out the true meaning of Christmas. Okay okay… I might be reaching a bit for SOME of these themes… but what do you expect? Die Hard is a Christmas film because it takes place around Christmas and there are tons of -small- Christmas-y themes place throughout the film, even the bad guys say “merry Christmas” when receiving their well-earned, but stolen, gifts.
New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and two daughters on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business she works for. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Very soon McClane realizes that there’s no one to save the hostages — but him.
Isn’t Hans Gruber one of the best cinema villains of all time? Like there is some vote somewhere that has him at the top, right? The man is a serious badass with a chip on his shoulder. Sure, McClane bests him at every turn but Hans never loses his “can-do” attitude– even attempting to shoot McClane in the face seconds before his death. And his crew aren’t slackers, the danger of having an entorage for a terrorist-group in a movie is that it mainly focuses on the leader only while the other people are just filler and generic bad guys. But in this film, they all have their own personalities and motivations from the tech-nerd guy that brings a lot of sass to one of the brothers who is seeking revenge for the death of the other brother at the hands of John McClane… these are things that really didn’t need to be added into the film– but it gives another layer of depth and interest as we watch.
And Bruce Willis is never better, playing the angry and rough cop with attitude to burn, I’m pretty sure that this role has defined his acting career as a whole as many of his roles feel similar (and not in a bad way). He brings a certain sense of charm to the screen where he balances “asshole” and “funny-guy” and it is awesome to see him rile up the bad guys every Christmas. But his character isn’t just a mindless angry cop, he has motivations of his own. He wants to unite with his estranged wife and kids, and also desires to protect her even if other people have to die to let that happen. So, as far as action-heroes go, I would rank him pretty high just for not being two-dimensional.
However, like Gremlins, maybe keep the kids away from this one. There is some mild nudity, swearing and a lot of death… I mean… or let the kids watch…. It didn’t hurt me after all…. but was I the poster child for all kids? Probably not. But yeah, this is more adult-friendly fun rather than kid-friendly so maybe watch it after the little ones go to bed. This is a MUST WATCH for Christmas movies every year, if you’re like my wife who believes movies only qualify as “Christmas-y” if this is a lot of cheer and a hunky-dory type story, then you will probably say “NO! Die Hard is not a Christmas movie!”, but for those who know the true meaning of Christmas and seek the redemption of Hans Gruber, you will find this to be not only a Christmas film– but a holiday necessity.
The scene in which Gruber and McClane meet was inserted into the script after Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber) was found to be proficient at mimicking American accents. The filmmakers had been looking for a way to have the two characters meet prior to the climax and capitalized on Rickman’s talent.
The Nakatomi tower is actually the headquarters of 20th Century Fox. The company charged itself rent for the use of the then unfinished building.
The scene where McClane falls down a shaft was a mistake by the stuntman, who was supposed to grab the first vent, as it originally was planned. He slipped and continued to fall, but the shot was used anyway; it was edited together with one where McClane grabs the next vent down as he falls.
Hart Bochner’s line “Hans… Bubby!” was ad-libbed. Alan Rickman’s quizzical reaction was genuine.
Clint Eastwood originally owned the rights to the novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” on which the film is based, and planned to star in the film around the early 1980s.