Was I really the only MUBI-ite to watch Die Hard at Christmas this year?
For a certain kind of action fan, "Die Hard" isn't a movie; it's a religion. It represents nothing less than the Platonic ideal of the genre. The screenplay's structure is airtight, with enough time allotted to introducing the characters and setting up the plot such that the audience actually gives a damn once the explosions go off. Here the banter is snappy, the performances are rock solid, and John McTiernan's direction is as precise as a Swiss watch. Whether he's providing the viewer with subtle exposition or orchestrating a violent shootout, what McTiernan brings to the action genre is an uncommon elegance.
Die Hard is man a cineaste's guilty pleasure--it was practically the only one-man-wrecking-crew movies to do anything different in terms of the hero. Willis's John McKlane isn't the rock jawed muscle monster of an Arnie but rather a reluctant everyman who is scared out of his mind as he continues to foul up the plans of the bad guys. It is, as well, a tightly directed and edited actioner that sill provides a kick in the pants. It is a masterpiece of a sort, in that it created a formula that hadn't been there before. The problem, of course, is that the practioneers of the genre haven't come up with any new twists.
This movie is fun to watch, and some damn good film making on top. The movie is pure setup pay off, first line of the movie is about taking off your shoes, McClane tries this and is then barefoot through the whole movie. "Who gives a shit about glass?", glass fucks John up. My favorite is the pin up girl John checks out as he passes through a hall, he passes the poster again and we instantly know where he is.
I hope everyone is getting ready to celebrate December 25th the John McClane way. Greatest Christmas movie ever?
As much about skyscaper architecture as DHWAV is about moving through a city. You get air ducts, elevator shafts, rooms, the roof, catwalks, etc. McClane is the same as Predator/Red October/Simon Gruber, an invisible disruptor, whose movements and actions send ripples outward, from the terrorists, to the hostages, to the police, to the media.