Flicks & Folios – Film Review: Die Hard

Focus on Bruce Willis

It seems like only yesterday that the actor with the most films in my personal collection–had hair! This film is still an amazing kick and mighty fun. Also, it has a good mushy ending.

Here is the premise: an off-duty cop gets ready to spend Christmas with his ex-wife. He’s bushed and he’s really glum. While his limo driver cools his heels downstairs, John McClane is waiting upstairs in the bathroom for his wife’s office party to end. He cleans up and then terrorists take over.

Slowly John starts to put everything together and finds that he’s the only one inside the building free to roam around and bring the bad guys down. He only has a service revolver and his wits. This is where the skilled writing shows itself. I don’t know how to imagine myself performing a bunch of cool defense moves. Maybe some writers are incredibly visual and can dream up gadgets and gimmicks that writers like me can’t.

Bad guy Hans Gruber is played by Alan Rickman, British actor par excellence. Recently, Alan has been famous for his Snape role in the Harry Potter film series. He is such an incredible actor that he insisted on doing the fall-off-the-building shot despite having a really bad back. I both admire and condemn that mentality. Injury in the name of your occupation strikes me as insane! But I admire dedication to realism.

The realism in this project extends to the unforeseen troubles the bad guys encounter is opening up the safe they are attempting to rob. Money is their motive for taking everyone hostage and they are deeply involved in whether they are going to get it. Also realistic is the savage manner in which the hostages are dealt with when they do not cooperate and the manner in which the hostages speak to Hans. When John’s wife, Holly, played by Bonnie Bedelia, needs to go to the bathroom, Hans ensures that’s all she is going to do.

Former Russian ballet star Alexander Godunov, who shares my birth date, is another bad guy. I can’t say his performance is any screaming heck but maybe that’s why he’s not a name actor these days.

I like the use of the building and its varied stages of construction as a vehicle for Bruce to work within. The building itself becomes a secondary character so to speak. It has its own life and its own stage of existence. The building becomes a vault, a trap and a salvation all in one.

The cop who helps John from the outside is Sgt. Al Powell, played by Reginald VelJohnson. He is also a go between for John’s feelings of being trapped and expression of his love for his wife. The sergeant is asked to do a drive by after a botched attempt for John to get help on a stolen walkie talkie from the bad guys. It so happens that John has a few ideas more than the sergeant figured to get his attention. I won’t tip you off to how that’s done. I want you to watch and enjoy.

This film is non-stop intensity and has great moments of action to it as well. Enjoy this old classic, and seeing Bruce with hair!

Laura Seymour first published herself, at age 8. She has since gone on to publish a cookbook for the medical condition Candida. She is working toward her B.A. (Psyc).