Die Hard (1988) 4.5/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 90.8
Genre: Action
Duration: 131 mins
Director: John McTiernen
Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

The Daddy of all action films, Die Hard has it all. An everyman hero, boo-hissable villains, a fantastic plot, and a scintillating script. Add in some sublime action choreography captured by the top action director (John McTiernen) and cinematographer (Jan DeBont) in the business, give Bruce Willis the lead, and the result is the cleverest, wittiest, and most satisfying action film ever made.

Willis plays John McClane, a New York cop who goes to toe to toe with a group of German terrorists when they take over his estranged wife’s corporate headquarters during their Christmas party. Despite his meticulous planning, the terrorist leader (played with relish by Alan Rickman in his first screen appearance) finds McClane and his abrasive personality to be a consistent pain in the ass as all his plans are systematically foiled by the cop.

Though the action sequences have become the stuff of movie legend, the film’s standout strengths were the charisma of its two leads, either on their own or while sparring with each other and of course, the script which facilitated that charisma. Willis in particular, excels like no action hero before him or since in both charm and grittiness and with the greatest hero dialogue ever written to chew on, he immortalised his character. Rickman, for his part, devours his equally brilliant lines with gargantuan amounts of gusto and, in truth, we’ve never seen a more vigorous or better portrayal of a movie villain. Supported by an array of perfectly rounded characters played by a host of top actors, Willis and Rickman give the film its substance, rendering the action sequences all the more enjoyable.

Of course, given the pedigree of Die Hard’s director and cinematographer, it should come as no surprise that the intelligence and wit demonstrated in front of the camera is matched by that behind it as McTiernen and DeBont produce a tour de force. No other sequence demonstrates this more than when McClane brings patrolman Powell into the fold with a bang – as Arglye the limo driver chills in the parking garage below oblivious to the mayhem going on behind him. “Welcome to the party pal!”

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