Die Hard has jumped the list. It’s one of my favourite films, certainly my favourite action film, and I was saving the joy of talking about it. There seems to be no more appropriate time.
If there’s a film that so perfectly showcases the American spirit, it’s Die Hard. The contrast between John McClane and the European terrorists is, for me, what holds this film up. It starts with the first conversation between McClane and Hans Gruber.
Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?
McClane’s iconically cowboy response?
Look at this guy, wearing his thousand-dollar suit and his fifty-cent smirk. No bloody way a lone guy could ruin his sophisticated plan.
But in true manifest destiny style, it’s this culture of war heroes that saves the day. Where Die Hard differs from its 1980s counterparts (I’m looking at you, Commando) is that, at times, it’s a very self-aware parody of its genre. It’s funny without the need for shit wordplay. McClane’s character arc is just fantastic, even outside the context of usually-shallow action flicks.
(Quick moan about the franchise: The phrase “yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” is ruined. It’s iconic not only because it’s badass, but the context is what drives the whole movie. What was originally an ironic “fuck you” has become a staple cheesy catchphrase. Don’t even get me started on this rumour of a Die Hard origin movie.)
Incredibly, these things don’t ruin Die Hard. Nothing could. It’s a great movie for those who wish to be entertained, and it’s a worthy piece of cinema for those who wish to take to the internet to read way too much into it. I’m both.