When I was a kid, Christmas was a big deal to me; mostly because of gifts and A Charlie Brown Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, my taste in holiday films has changed dramatically. Every year, I gather up my favorite holiday movies, and have my very own Christmas movie marathon. And every marathon begins with my favorite, Die Hard. Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few people list Die Hard as their favorite Christmas movie, and I’ve heard just as many question how it could be. Listen, for me it could be as simple as being set at Christmas, but Die Hard is so much more than that. Picture it, Los Angeles, 1988…
Who: New York cop John McClane, in L.A. visiting his estranged wife, Holly, and their children. Things are pretty bad between John and Holly. He’s mad that she got a fancy-schmancy new job on the west coast and she’s mad because he’s a prick who thought she would fail. Points to Holly; John is d-bag.
Where: The 30th floor, as well as the ventilation shafts and various unfinished floors, of Nakatomi Plaza. The place is huge and leaves lots of room for bad guys and John to play cops and robbers.
What: While attending a company Christmas party, Hans Gruber and his armed minions hold everyone in attendance hostage. In order to get what they need, Hans kills a couple folks; but hey, that’s the price of doing business and being the bad guy. (insert shrug)
When: Christmas Eve. And why not? It’s not like anything else is happening on this not quite a holiday.
Why: In an effort to teach Nakatomi Corporation about their greedy ways, Hans and co. are attempting to break into Nakatomi’s vault to steal $650 million dollars in bearer bonds. (I don’t know how much money that translates to, but it sounds like a lotta cheddar.) Personally, I think the theft is more about Hans’ greed than Nakatomi’s. When the man in charge, Takagi, won’t pony up the access codes, Hans kills him. It’ll take a little more work to get to their goal, but these guys have patience. All’s going well until John decides to get the police involved. When that doesn’t go as planned, he tries to stop them with his one-man army, plus Al and Argyle.
Why I Love This Movie
- Die Hard combines some of my favorite things: shootouts, explosions, corny quips, and awesome bad guys who make you question your own morals. It is a great action movie with an iconic hero in John McClane. C’mon, he is the epitome of the impossible white man. On his own, he takes out eight of the dozen or so bad guys who attack the building; all in a tank top undershirt and no shoes. Might I add, he kills the last two guys with the last two bullets in his gun. If that ain’t impossible, I don’t know what it is. John scrambles barefoot across broken glass, wrecking his feet, yet somehow manages to scamper across the building to kill bad guys, save the hostages, jump off the roof as a bomb is detonated, narrowly miss being pulled out a window by a fire hose, escapes the aftereffects of the aforementioned explosion, and is saved by Al when Karl tries to gun him down. A lesser man would have been taken out by the cuts on his feet.
- Two words: Alan. Rickman. This is the role in which I fell in love with Alan Rickman. Yeah, yeah he’s the bad guy. Does that really matter when he’s strolling through the room in that black suit, with that luscious accent? I say, no, it doesn’t. The man is an acting god; point blank and the period. I don’t know what work he did before this and I don’t really care. He will always be Hans Gruber to me. Or Colonel Brandon, Severus Snape, Harry, Metatron…okay, I’m obsessed with him. Whatever.
- Two more words: Bruce. Willis. I guess I should be ashamed about how much I like Bruce, but I’m not. I’ve seen a good portion of his body of work and while not all of it is good, I tend to enjoy him, if nothing else. Yes, even Hudson Hawk. I’m not sure if it’s because I loved him as David Addison on Moonlighting, or because I love his half smile.
- Hans Gruber ain’t your average bad guy; he was ahead of his time in terms of diversity. Not only did he have a few of his German brethren, he had a black guy, an Italian, and an Asian on his team. He’s an equal opportunity bad guy; you can’t get mad at that.
Forget your gifts, eggnog, and spending time with family you can barely tolerate. Die Hard encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas: selflessness. If not for John McClane, all those people would be dead. Thank you, John, for showing us that Christmas means risking your own ass to save others. This Christmas, add Die Hard to your must see Christmas movie list, and let John McClane save your day.