#8- Die Hard (1988)

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Who's List Was This On
- Adam Kaplan: #4
- Dan Bennett: #6
- The 'Bright' One: #9

Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza
Starring: Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman
Based Upon: The book Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp

The Plot

New York police officer John McClane (Willis) goes to visit his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) over Christmas who is working in Los Angeles for a major corporation. He meets up with his wife at the corporate Christmas party when all of the sudden a terrorist group led by Hans Gruber (Rickman) take over the Christmas party and the entire skyscraper and it is up to Officer McClane to stop the attack.

Why This Movie Is Great

There are two basic reasons why Die Hard is great: 1) The vulnerability yet awesomeness of John McClane and 2) Hans Gruber.

We'll start with John McClane first. Generally, the key to making a great action movie is to have a great action star in the center of it. In most action movies, the hero is essentially infallible; he can do no wrong. That's not true with John McClane. Sure, he does do some damage to Hans Gruber's team, but he hits many bumps and bruises along the way. This movie is not like say Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage- a normal, everyday guy who just magically appears to be the best secret agent in the world when he start fighting people. John McClane is presented as a very good officer but the movie reflects his boundaries.

He is a police officer so he does have expertise in firing a gun and combat, but he still struggles to try and pick off members of Hans Gruber's elite team. Towards the beginning of the movie he barely escapes when three members of the terrorist group come after him. He has a hard time jumping in and out of things and almost falls to his death. The key to Officer McClane's vulnerability is that fact that he is forced to go barefoot throughout the entire film. At one point we see him walk over broken glass in order to survive.

In dime a dozen action flicks we see the hero/protagonist seem indestructible but this is not so with John McClane.

The second reason Die Hard is so great is because of Hans Gruber- the first major role for the great Alan Rickman. Hans Gruber is not your typical terrorist (as if there exists a "typical terrorist"). He is a smart, thoughtful, and rational man who surprisingly has great humor to him. There have been bigger and better movie villains that have come after Hans Gurber (mainly since No Country For Old Men was released) but Hans Gruber is the innovator and his still holds up today.

Of course there are gun fights and shootouts and things get blown up- like what is necessary in all action movies- but Die Hard rises above the rest because of John McClane and Hans Gruber and therefore cracks the top ten of Game of Inches' top 25.

FUN FACT: Forget It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or any other movie you can think of, Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie ever.

BONUS: This is a great parody of the Die Hard movies from The Ben Stiller Show