What is there to say about Die Hard that hasn't already been said? It has woven itself into pop culture, and is one of those iconic pieces of American cinema. I mean who doesn't know "Yippie kai yay mother fucker"? My mom knows the term for crying out loud, but she has no clue that hardboiled cop John McClane was the character behind the renowned line.
Die Hard is a prime example of 80's excess, and that's what makes it so damn beautiful. It's the creme de la creme of the action genre, the standard if you will. Everything in this movie embodies what film making was like in the 80's, especially in regards to action films: Hardcore pyrotechnics, tits, in-camera action, tits, 30 minute firefights, gratuitous violence, tits, and one-liners---the god damn American dream. Did I miss anything?
Action movies today are laughable when compared to the golden age of action cinema. Think about an action flick within the last 10 years that comes even remotely close to the greatness of Die Hard. You can't do it, can you? Let's get something straight right now, the world was a different place in 1988. Recession? $4.00 a gallon gas prices? Fuck that noise, the economy was thriving, people had jobs, and more importantly, people were spending money.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brilliance of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (what is wrong with you?), they sang a little jingle for one of their flicks "It's the 80's, let's do a lot of coke and vote for Ronald Reagan". Well that jingle could be applied to every facet of American culture in the 1980's, we were the shit, and we wanted the world to know about it.
What makes Die Hard so amazing is that it had the perfect formula for an action film. You have an incredibly marketable actor in Bruce Willis (who was fresh off his TV stint on Moonlighting, so at the time he was a relative unknown), you have a phenomenal director in John McTtiernan, one of the best villains in actor Alan Rickman (where are you hiding cowboy!), and a powerful score by the one and only Michael Kamen (RIP dude).
The funny thing is that regardless of what may have been a successful formula, 20th Century Fox had little or no faith in the film. I'm going to provide some interesting facts regarding the films production, since I'm apparently a vat of useless knowledge. The studio expected it to bomb, and their expectations were warranted seeing as Bruce Willis was really not as big as he is today. McTiernan only had two films to his name at the time and they were banking on the success of other action films, namely Lethal Weapon.
Despite the studios lack of faith in the film, it went on to be arguably the greatest action film ever made. Not to mention that the movie made bank in the box office. Of an estimated budget of $28 million, the movie ended up raking in $83 million domestic. This isn't including the international scene at all. Not bad for a movie that was supposed to be a flop.
Lets talk about director John McTiernan for a moment shall we? While his resume isn't filled with academy award winning films, at least half of it is filled with timeless genre-defining action films (Predator, Die Hard 1&3, The Hunt for Red October, and Last Action Hero). McTiernan only has 11 films to his name, and the latter portion of his career is lackluster to say the least, however, his name will always be associated with some of the most memorable films of recent memory.
Die Hard really is such a joy to watch. I can watch it over and over, and never get sick of it. I just fell in love with the character of John McClane. Unlike other action heroes at the time, the guy wasn't invincible. He was just an insane cop who just wouldn't quit. The man picks off an elite squad of European terrorists one by one. In the process, this is what John Mcclane does:
- he breaks his ribs
- gets shot in the shoulder twice
- runs bare foot through shards of glass on an entire floor
- has a flash grenade thrown at him
- takes assault rifle fire for seven minutes in cover
- Fist fights a man twice his size and wins
- takes sniper fire from friendlys
- jumps off of a bulding with a fire hose and nearly falls 80 stories to his death
- yells "HANS!" and puts a bullet in a henchmans head, shoots Hans with the last two bullets in his gun effectively killing him
- Saves his wife from plummeting to her death
What a bad ass. Die Hard epitomizes the Summer blockbuster with its balls to the wall action. Screw Michael Bay, this was the OG blockbuster. I ask that you revisit Die Hard to have your memory refreshed---yippie kai yay mother fucker.