Anthony's Film Review
Die Hard (1988)
A thrilling high-rise adventure with plenty of suspense and action...
Die Hard has been hailed by many as an action movie that raised the bar. I can agree with that for the most part. If you compare this movie to a random action movie released prior to 1988, you may often notice that Die Hard has more intense explosions, gunfights, and close combat. I will say, though, that Die Hard is not a movie with a very high body count. It has just as much suspense as action without being overloaded with the latter.
The story begins with New York police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport. He has flown in to visit his wife Holly at a Christmas party at her workplace, the Nakatomi Corporation. McClane rides a limo, driven by the good-natured Argyle, to the corporate building. He joins the party, meets his wife, and gets into an argument with her about their marriage. Then he takes a moment to cool down in a restroom.
Meanwhile, the party has some unexpected visitors. A group of terrorists pull into the Nakatomi parking garage in an armored truck. Its occupants enter the building, set up their scheme, and take the Nakatomi employees hostage. Downstairs in the lobby, two other members of this criminal group take out the receptionist so that one of them takes the victim's place. It is clear that the plan has been conceived to the last detail.
Except for one: John McClane. As a cunning cop who is not taken hostage, he becomes the unseen hero that the terrorists do not expect. McClane encounters a few bad guys and finds various ways to get help. By doing so, he manages to get the attention of Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), a cop who is dispatched to a disturbance at the Nakatomi building that he discovers to be a full blown hostage situation. Now the police and the FBI arrive at the scene. The result is a twist to the classic cat-and-mouse caper: a caper with two cats to one slick mouse.
This is a good time to mention the mastermind villain: German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). He is a cold and sophisticated individual who knows how to plan ahead and also improvise cleverly if things don't go right. This is a villain who equals John McClane in clever wit. As for the hero, McClane is best compared to a cowboy who can dive in with guns blazing when the time is right. In fact, his memorable catchphrase is an old cowboy phrase with a profane modification.
The whole movie involves an engaging three-way suspense and action. McClane outsmarts Gruber and his men and vice versa. The authorities outside the building also deal directly with the terrorists. Then there are interesting conversations between McClane and Powell, either related to tactics or to their personal lives. They are carefully exchanged over the terrorist radio band, which Gruber can also listen to.
Overall, Die Hard is an exciting movie with well-developed plot and characters. It has been given plenty of recognition, including entries in the American Film Institute's lists of top 100 thrilling movies and top 50 movie villains. It truly is 40 stories of sheer adventure. I definitely recommend it to all action movie lovers.
For more information about Die Hard, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the following:
The Die Hard Films