It’s almost December: the yuletide season is upon us and many people are settling down to watch their favourite Christmas films. At this point in the year, it becomes acceptable to watch the best action film, and possibly the most controversial Christmas film of all time: Die Hard.
The film is set on Christmas Eve, as a forlorn looking John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in LA for Christmas with his family. His wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), worls for the Nakatomi Corporation in the, aptly named, Nakatomi Plaza. During the office Christmas party, a group of bank robbers led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) break in and hold the building hostage. It is then up to McClane, who is in a separate office to the party, to save the day.
Whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas film has divided audiences for nearly 30 years. Some are convinced the high body count and the expletive laden catchphrase prove its ineligibility for the Christmas title. Others, however, claim it to be very much a Christmas movie: it is set on Christmas Eve after all.
Possibly his most famous role, Bruce Willis excels as NYPD cop John McClane. He’s ballsy, sweary and very, very good at shooting bad guys. Even with no shoes on. The All-American hero would not be so amazingly good, if not for a villain who is amazingly bad. This is where Hans Gruber comes in.
In his first feature film, Alan Rickman plays the soft-spoken, sharp tongued maniac Hans Gruber. Arguably one of the best villains in movie history, Gruber is as evil as John McClane is bald. His combination of a kind of convincing German accent and a wholly convincing lack of a soul really kicks this movie into gear, bringing drama and tension to what otherwise would be just another heist movie.
Die Hard is responsible for some of the most iconic moments in movie history. It is generally regarded as one of the best action films of all time. It has Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in it. It’s hard to fault. Yet, some faults, at a push, can be found.
Even though it’s dramatic and even though the whole idea is only slightly far-fetched, it’s really hard to see the bad in this movie. From the wild shoot-outs, to the cringeworthy special effects and to the (sometimes) mediocre acting, Die Hard is just a great movie.
It is hard to find someone who doesn’t like Die Hard. It has something for everyone: action, comedy, romance, Christmas spirit. It’s a film that didn’t try to please everyone, but somehow managed it. Too many Christmas films put too much emphasis on the sickly sweet, to the point where it can get cloying and suffocating. Die Hard is a breath of fresh air in the, otherwise stuffy, world of Christmas movies.
Although people may argue over its eligibility to be a Christmas film, one thing is for certain: Die Hard is a brilliant film. No-one can deny that.