Die Hard (1988): Breakdown by Rantbo
New York City Cop kills former terrorists, pretending to be current terrorists, but are really now exceptional thieves. Explosions and one-liners commence.
“Welcome to the party, pal!”
A hard boiled, take-no-shit New York City cop flies out to the magical land of limp-wristed men and movie stars to hopefully make up with his estranged wife over Christmas break with the kids. And only one team of international matchstick men and a 40 story building and a foot full of glass shards and a counter-productive team of FBI agents and a jerk-off reporter and a douchebag yuppie coke-head and the principal from BREAKFAST CLUB and an exploding roof and Al Leong on a sugar-high stand in his way.
Lucky, this man is Bruce Willis—star of MOONLIGHTING.
What can be said about DIE HARD that hasn’t been stated a million-and-one times before? Hell, even snobbish tabloid gossip-rags like Entertainment Weekly recognize it as a masterpiece. Usually when a movie is this loved and regarded to this degree, my instincts tell me that something’s off. But, I’ll be damned if I can figure out what it is, ‘cuz DIE HARD is a fucking blast from beginning to end. It’s the perfect summer blockbuster action flick. I’ll even go so far as to say that this is, (in my opinion, of course), The Best American Action movie.
DIE HARD created the ‘One-Man-Versus-Many-In-A-Contained Space-With-Limited-Means’ sub-genre of Action, that has become one of the most simple, satisfying and oft used archetypes for BadAss Cinema. With it’s blend of dry snarky humor, suspense driven sense of urgency and it’s gritty no-holds-barred gun and fist fights; it’s not hard to see why this film made such an impression. There really is no faults that I can find within it…
The action is fun, intense, violent and most importantly, well shot. The story is fun, well contained, and easy to follow, without catering to the morons. The score compliments the action and never becomes annoying or distracting (Ode To Joy was a nice choice). The supporting cast is superb, making each performance classic and memorable. Alan Rickman is the shit. I can’t think of another villain from this, or any era, that is as likable, while still managing to be such a menacing shithead, as his Hans Gruber. And then of course there is the fly in Hans’ ointment, the monkey in his wrench, the pain in his ass, here to shove a bloody bare foot up his ass while coldly whispering “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother Fucker”…
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Bruce Willis is Mr. John McClane
“Sister Theresa called me Mr. McClane in the third grade, my friends call me John, and you’re neither, shithead.”
McClane is the chain-smoking joker, the alcoholic blue-collar everyman, and the renegade regulator in a wife-beater. Ready for anything and willing, “because there is nobody else to do it.” He’s the definition of the reluctant hero and I don’t think it’s too presumptuous of me to assume that John holds a special place in the heart of every male born since 1980.
In DIE HARD, McClane shows us that one man can defeat many and NOT be a Super Hero. Far from it in fact. In the process of saving his old-lady (whom he doesn’t even get along with) John is beaten, choked, shot, walks through shattered glass on bare feet, jumps off a 40 story building AND kills 10 “terrorists” using a little street smarts, some working-class muscle and a few dozen bullets. McClane does ALL this—to save a room full of yuppies and a wife that left him. Mother fucker’s like Jesus in THE PASSION, but instead of rolling over, he steps up and fights back like a man. Hold on, I’m saluting a picture of Willis as I write this. McClane’s bad-assness almost brings a tear to my eye. I say ’almost, ‘cuz I don’t cry, crying is for women, and men like Ellis. And I don’t want to be like Ellis. I want to be a Cowboy, a Hero—a McClane.
[THE BODY COUNT: 22]
The count is an even 22, with equal halves going to both sides. The Exceptional Thieves manage to rack up 11 kills, mostly civilian, but with a few S.W.A.T. members and jack-off feds thrown in for good measure. And McClane chalks up a well rounded and asthetically pleasing 10. With the tie point going to Officer Al as a clean-up hit on lead henchmen Karl. Well done, twinkie-boy. While this count isn’t very high, it is still incredibly pleasing as each kill is made memorable by either a crude joke at the victims expense, or by the obscenely violent way in which they are dispatched. Best of all? It’s usually both.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Ellis—bubby, could it be anyone else?
Douche-bag, cocaine fueled asshole had it coming, but hard—Die Hard.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
McClane is where he is, because he is trying to patch up his marriage. While I could argue that this is a stupid and futile act, it is still extremely hetero. He does run around the whole flick sweaty and in a wife-beater, but he’s also covered in blood, grease and shit. So John is less than sexy. At one point, McCLane’s magical African American friend, Al, says he loves him and the two keep calling each other “Partner“ and “Cowboy”… But it would be quite a stretch for me to assume wanton male-on-male action with such little evidence to support the claim. So, there isn’t really much to build my case on here—maybe in the sequel.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
When Hans and his buddies crash the office party, they bust in on a couple of 80s corporate coke-fiends fucking it out on a desk and you get to see a flash of drunk party titty, but the guy she’s with looks just as stupid in this situation.
Another bit of female exploitation is delivered as McClane walks by a nudie calendar a couple times. But again, I’m stretching here. The only other woman is Holly. Gennaro—Miss, Gennaro is McClane’s wife and she is shown as an intelligent and highly successful businesswoman with a brain. God Dammit anyways. This movie is almost purely hetro and pro equal rights, yet it still manages to be an amazingly entertaining action film. I don’t get it, but I still love it.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
This movie has so, SO, many good times and lines that it’s really hard to pick just one. So, I’ll just go with the one I liked the best this viewing.
Trapped by a Krout with a machine-gun, McClane gets pinned underneath a table, when the ‘terrorist’ gets cocky and becomes a smart mouth.
Krout: “Next time you have a chance to kill someone, don’t hesitate.”
Now while the above is a fantastic line, it still can’t dethrone THE line.
Hans: “Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?”
Arguably the greatest one-liner ever delivered. Rivaling, “Go ahead, make my day.”, “…Has just been revoked.” and even, “I’ll be back.” It’s funny though, whenever I hear people quote it, they always get the inflection wrong. McClane doesn’t yell this shit as a battle-cry, he says it quiet and sardonically. He’s just saying ‘Yup.’, but with smart-ass shine. I get tired of hearing people fuck that up. Stop it.
I also find it weird that YKY, (though a GREAT line) is the one that took off and was used in the sequels, as the one-liner McClane says to Hans as he shoots him, is a far more appropriate send off: “Happy Trails, Hans!”. But, at least when they have McClane repeat YKY,MF in the sequels, he says it to himself, as a nod to himself for being such a bad-ass cowboy—until part 4. But that’s a whole other rant, for a whole other time.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“The secret to surviving the Nakatomi Building is, after you get to the 30th floor, take off your shoes and your socks. Then you walk around on shards of glass barefoot and swing fists at your foes. It’s better than a shower and a hot cup of coffee.”
[THE CHECKLIST: 13 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Al Leong]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Christmas]
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [DIE HARD 2]
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice
*While technically not a warehouse, the Nakatomi Plaza has floor upon floor that are deserted and in enough shambles that I think it can constitute.