Die Hard

Directed By: John McTiernan

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedalia, Reginald VelJohnson, and Paul Gleason

"Yippee kai yay, motherfucker!".  It's hard to believe that it's been a quarter century since a young Bruce Willis uttered these words to Alan Rickman and forever changed the face of action movies.  These aren't just the words of some older generation of cowboy, gun-loving Americans.  These are the words that symbolize an entire generation of action movies.  John McTiernan's Die Hard, an adaptation of Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, lit the way for all the action-packed films we love today.  The Mission: Impossible films, The Jason Bourne series, and even the reinvigorated James Bond series all owe something to Die Hard.  It's a film that's been imitated but never quite replicated.  In honor of the 25th anniversary of this iconic action thriller and the franchise's latest installment A Good Day to Die Hard, let's revisit this classic movie and our favorite New York cop John McClane.

Ready to reconcile with his wife Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedalia), New York detective John McClane (Willis) has arrived in Los Angeles and is on his way to her office holiday party at Nakatomi Corporation.  His limo driver Argyle (De'voreaux White) drops him off at Nakatomi Plaza, and the fun begins.  While McClane is changing clothes in Holly's office, the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).  They take over the building and take all the Nakatomi employees as hostages.  While the terrorists take executive Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta) for interrogation about some negotiable bearer bonds worth $640 million, McClane escapes and begins doing what he does best — taking down criminals.  Though the police and the FBI eventually arrive on the scene, it's McClane who quickly becomes a fly in the ointment, a monkey in the wrench, and a pain in the ass for Gruber and his associates.

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, a few criminals were stirring, even a cop from New York.  All through the night, this lone hero was generously stuffing stockings with big cans of whoopass.  Die Hard is undoubtedly the greatest Christmas movie for guys.  Along with a little holiday cheer, we get bullets, explosions, and a guy who has always been partial to Roy Rogers.  With endless thrills, rich dialogue, and a solid score, Die Hard is an intelligent thriller and arguably the first modern action movie.

As John McClane, Bruce Willis gives us an action hero for the modern era, one that goes against the archetype established by the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  He's not the classic silent macho man.  He's a charismatic, trash-talking badass who knows just how to enrage Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber.  Beyond plenty of great one-liners from this average Joe-like star, Willis delivers plenty of great action.  While not the tallest, most physically imposing hero, Willis is like a ravenous dog when on the attack.  He delivers some intense fight sequences throughout the film.  All in all, the role of McClane solidified Willis as the premier action star of his generation.  It's Willis's signature character.

As Hans Gruber, Alan Rickman delivers a refined villain.  He's a delightfully evil mastermind who hums classical music and stays current on world affairs.  Dressed in a pricy suit and well-spoken, Rickman's Gruber is one classy guy.  Rickman delivers his lines as if he's savoring every word he utters.  He's slow and meticulous in everything he does and gives us one of the most enjoyable villains to ever grace the big screen.  Rickman gives us a gentleman and a scholar in his portrayal of Gruber.  He's a surprisingly pleasant criminal.  You can't help but love a guy who enjoys "Beethoven's 9th Symphony" before shooting his captives at point blank range.

The supporting cast members do a great job as well.  As LAPD Sergeant Al Powell, Reginald VelJohnson gives us quite a bit of lighthearted comic relief throughout the film and provides a moral compass to the police and the FBI.  As Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, Paul Gleason gives us a straight arrow who manages to be comically furious at the situation playing out inside the building.  His role as Robinson in Die Hard stands as just another one of his hilarious portrayals of authoritative figures in 80's movies.  We also have the late Alexander Godunov.  As Karl, he gives us an angry badass brute who relentlessly hunts McClane throughout Nakatomi Plaza.

Die Hard might just be the greatest action movie of all time.  With great direction from John McTiernan, iconic performances from Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, and lots of lovable supporting characters, this action flick hits all the right notes.  This long, tense game of chess between McClane and Gruber is a nonstop thrill ride that never disappoints.  While it would be fitting to have some eggnog with this flick, you don't need a thing.  Die Hard gets a sober rating.  This is an action classic that will never get old.  Happy 25th birthday John McClane.  Yippee kai yay!