So, I’m 11 days into my run down from Halloween to Christmas. Since we are still in November, I’ve been taking it rather easy on the Christmas themes. I would argue that this film is the best “non-Christmas” Christmas film, because although it’s set at Christmas, if you take Christmas out of the story, the story still works, which I think is how you need to define these things, if you need to define these things. To deal with any controversy, I’ve decide to double up, so today you get two reviews! It’s like Christmas has come early. Really, really, really early.
And today it’s…
10th November, Day 11
Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)
Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Renny Harlin, 1990)
New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) goes to Los Angeles to see his estranged wife Holy (Bonnie Badiela), who has been successful in her new job at the Nakatomi corporation. They are at the company’s Christmas party at Nakatomi Tower when it is stormed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his groups of terrorist. McClane manages to separate himself from the party, and manages to contact LA Sgt Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) in the traditional way, by throwing a dead body out of a window. Powell brings in the cavalry in the form of the LAPD and the FBI, but can they stop Gruber from outside the building? Is it up to McClane to take them out single-handedly? And just what are Gruber’s true motives for taking a Christmas party hostage?
As part of my tribute to the late Alan Rickman, I said this about his role as Hans Gruber:
“The thing I like most about Gruber is that his plan works. He is one step ahead of Mr Takagi, the police, the FBI – his proclamations as a terrorist are a front, even the helicopter he asks for is simply a diversion. Only the wildcard, badass New York cop John McClane, stops him by destroying most of the building himself. Even his last act, when he is literally clinging on for dear life, is to try and shoot McClane in the face. What a man.”
I stand by every word of that. John McClane never had better adversary – in fact I don’t think any action hero has ever had a better adversary. Of course, John McClane in this first film is the perfect action hero. Tough, wise-cracking, and just the right guy in the right building at the right time.
So I don’t care what I say, this is a brilliant Christmas film, one of the very best. It’s also one of the very best action films, police films, hostage films…
Overall, I give this
Of course it gets the full five out of five.
I’ll be back with another Christmas film… right now!
So, two years later, this time John McClane is awaiting his wife’s arrival in Washington, this time she is coming to him. As he makes it to the airport, he spots two people acting suspiciously, and after a brief shoot out when they open fire in a baggage handling area, he ends up killing one of them. The local police are sure he was just a thief, but McClane thinks it was something more serious. He is proven right when a group of ex-Special Forces remotely take over the control tower, demanding the release of a Latin American dictator Roman Esperanza, who is due to fly in to the airport under arrest.
For a second Christmas, the McClanes are fighting off terroroists in a hostage situation, but how can McClane save his wife, the dozens of planes, AND stop the plot to free Esperanza?
There are a few memorable moments in Die Harder, however it isn’t a patch on the original, and it began the escalation that led to McClane becoming the indestructible super-cop of the later sequels. The huge explosions take the film in a different direction from the claustrophobic excellence of Die Hard, and although it has plenty of enjoyable moments, it is a step below the first. There are a few too many characters in the film, so the one on one banter between lone cop McClane and his contact outside is lost.
Of course, a lot of this is due to the impossible task of trying to replace Hans Gruber. William Sadler does a good job, but he’s not Alan Rickman. The third film got around this by having Gruber’s younger brother, but let’s be honest – Gruber has never been bettered.
Overall, I give this
My first 3 out of 5 review! A decent action film, but not a great one.
So, the second one was bit of a short review, but it really is a lesser film. I’ll be back tomorrow with another Christmas film – ABOUT A BOY! It’s a film… about a boy!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far:
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2