Die Hard
(United States, 1988)

I recall the day I wandered into a theater to see Die Hard. It was during a time in my life when I was "cinematically un-savvy" and rarely attended movies. However, I was near a theater on a weekday afternoon during the summer of 1988, and was bored. I remembered hearing a few good things about Die Hard, so I decided to give it a chance. And I was blown away. For the next two weeks, I urged everyone I knew to see the movie. And I went back a second time myself (highly unusual, since I generally only visited multiplexes once every two or three months). Years later, Die Hard has lost none of its considerable appeal. It's the kind of film for which the term "white knuckler" was coined. After seven or eight viewings, parts of it can still give me goosebumps. And, as an added bonus, the first sequel, while not matching its predecessor, was still a helluva lot of fun.

Plot Summary (Spoilers Possible):
John McClane (Bruce Willis) had intended to spend a nice, quiet Christmas with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and children, ironing out his marital problems and trying to resolve the situation that has him working in New York City as a cop while her career keeps her in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for John, a group of terrorists, led by the suave Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), has other ideas. After taking over the high rise Nakatomi Tower and holding the attendees of the Christmas party (including Holly) hostage, they begin the time-consuming and complex procedure of breaking into the building's vault. However, one thing -- perhaps the only thing -- that Hans didn't plan on was John McClane, the self-professed "fly in the ointment," who is on the loose inside, and whose goals are in direct contradiction with those of the terrorists.

Die Hard represents the class of modern action pictures and the standard by which they must be judged. Few films falling into the "mindless entertainment" genre have as much going for them as this movie. Not only is it a thrill-a-minute ride, but it has one of the best film villains in recent memory, a hero everyone can relate to, dialogue that crackles with wit, and a lot of very impressive pyrotechnics. Whether Bruce Willis is climbing an elevator shaft, throwing himself off an exploding building, or racing barefoot across a flood littered with glass shards, his John McClane holds our attention while we hold our breaths. Die Hard isn't motion picture poetry, but it shows the kind of raucous entertainment that the industry is capable of delivering. For what it is, this is the top model -- flash, bang, and witty one-liners all included.

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