Just a random rant on my fondness for Die Hard. An “Ode to Die Hard” if you will.
Before Die Hard (1988) actions movies weren’t as brimming with non-stop action, especially American-made action movies. John Woo was already making similar films in Hong Kong, but his seminal action films, The Killer and Hard Boiled, didn’t come out until 1989 and 1992 respectively. Woo’s style didn’t make a large scale impact on Hollywood until they imported him, his flying doves, and golden guns in 1993. Action movies prior to Die Hard would usually feature a couple of big shoot-em up sequences, but would take long respites in-between those. Die Hard, after a few minutes of set-up, steps on the gas and almost doesn’t let up until the finish. It didn’t just open the door for all-out action movies, it kicked the door off it’s hinges, carried the door into the driveway, poured lighter fluid on it, then lit it on fire.
It’s not just the full throttle action that makes it work. (And yes, I am aware of the fact Charlie’s Angels 2 used ‘full throttle’ in the title to describe their “action” movie, but they were using it as a double entendre. They could have just called it Charlie’s Angels 2: Fully Erect. I am using it in a pacing sense.) Die Hard was one of the few action films that was willing to show a completely vulnerable protagonist. John McClane does win the fist fights and shoot outs, but he takes tons of damage along the way. That damage stays with him the entire time and doesn’t magically disappear. He walks across broken glass, then walks gingerly on those feet the rest of the way.
The Christmas setting adds another level. It allows for the unique for an action movie soundtrack (Christmas in Hollis, Ode to Joy, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!) Not to mention, brilliantly keeps the entire rest of the building unoccupied. Plus, gives me a perfect another reason to watch it 10-20 times each December.
I type all this up as rumors are circulating about a Die Hard 5, tentatively titled A Good Day to Die Hard. Pondering how grand Die Hard was and continues to be while comparing how mediocre in every way Die Hard 4: Die Most Hardest was can make one’s brainspace ache. If we learned anything from the neutered Live Free or Die Hard, it should be that the next one must be done rated R, and I am talking a hard R with nudity, brutal violence, yippe ki yay mother fuckers, and no Justin Long. Also, John McClane MUST be vulnerable (meaning no more surfing on the wings of a jet plane). Additionally, the villain needs a foreign accent. Throwing John McTiernan’s direction back into the mix couldn’t hurt either. And they should get Bonnie Bedelia’s perm back in there (not sure if they killed off Holly Genero-McClane in the 4th one but that can be undone with her death having been faked and she was had been abducted by Hans Gruber’s illegitimate, and rightfully angry son)