Every decade or so, an action movie comes out that rewrites history. A movie that changes things forever, that breaks new ground and serves as an inspiration for countless other movies and filmmakers afterwards. In 1999, The Matrix was such a movie. It renovated fighting scenes in movies by introducing something called ‘bullet time’, which is slow-motion camerawork where you can see actually follow the bullets’ trajectory in the air.
Before The Matrix however, there was Die Hard. More important for the action genre and a better movie altogether, it can easily be described as the most important action movie Hollywood has ever made … and a classic in every sense of the word!
It’s useless to try and debate the good things of Die Hard. There’s so many …
I suppose starting with the casting of Bruce Willis as the tough New York-cop is as good a place to start as any. Not only is this role the one that defined his entire career, but Bruce Willis would end up playing many different versions of John McClane, such as The Whole Nine Yards and RED.
The main reason why Die Hard worked so well back in the ’80s had much to do with its authentic looks.
In a time when America introduced one bodybuilding hero after the other – the two most famous ones obviously being Rambo and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando – Die Hard downplayed the whole hero-thing and simply gave us a normal police officer.
A man who has to get his hands dirty, who can get hurt by bullets and sharp things such as glass or knives. A man who can bleed, who makes mistakes and who is – despite killing many bad guys – very much human. THIS was completely revolutionary back then … and to this day there are still many movies and/or TV-shows who benefit from this format.
The one we certainly cannot forget is the late Alan Rickman. A British stage actor who earned his stripes with awarded Broadway performances, his very first movie was in fact Die Hard. He also happens to be one of the very first gentleman-bad guys in a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster.
This is yet another achievement Die Hard started, copied many times over by lesser movies that came afterwards.
As far as the action goes, what can we say that hasn’t already been said? It’s raw. It’s real. It’s bloody damn good!
There’s only 4 or 5 action movies ever made that reach this pristine level of quality.
Die Hard is the perfect marriage between intelligent filmmaking and impeccable action set pieces. This is one movie that audiences will enjoy long after you & I are both gone from this world …
Did you know?
The scene where McClane falls down a shaft was a mistake by the stuntman, who was supposed to grab the first vent, as it originally was planned. He slipped and continued to fall, but the shot was used anyway; it was edited together with one where McClane grabs the next vent down as he falls.
Give it to me short:
Die Hard is the perfect action movie. It’s one of the very best EVER made, period!!
It completely rewrote the rules of what a modern action movie ought to look like, and in doing so, opened the door for Hollywood to make many more similar action movies. The story of the lone hero who’s left behind to fight an army of bad guys may seem like something that was invented back in the ’50s, but nothing is less true. Die Hard was the first one to invent this new design and other movies like ‘Under siege’ and ‘Speed’ prospered from it, bringing new elements to the table (Under siege = lone hero on water, Speed = lone hero in a bus that’s about to explode).
Die Hard isn’t just a flawless piece of entertainment because of its action. The casting of Bruce Willis is golden. The introduction of Alan Rickman as the gentleman-bad guy was groundbreaking new stuff back in the day. And the classic shock-surprise of ‘the supposedly dead bad guy who comes back to life for one last scare’ was also made popular by Die Hard!
Just try and find someone who doesn’t like Die Hard – go on, try it!
You’ll have an easier time digging up a dinosaur from the ground …