Die Hard
August 26, 2006

I was flipping channels when I stumbled across Die Hard. I realized that I hadn’t watched it since I found out who Alan Rickman was, and since I now quite admire him, I left it on. (Or, as one reviewer has it, the “velvet-voiced Alan Rickman”.)

Die Hard
Die Hard
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It’s quite entertaining, even if you’re not an action movie fan, and I can see how it was radical for its time, reshaping the genre and its expectations. It makes real all those great American myths about the need for guns and the power of the individual. Much as it makes fun of the idea of the movie cowboy, it’s firmly in the tradition of the classic Western, with the lone gunman stepping outside society’s bounds to clean up the town. It also established the supervillain for the 90s, the ruthless European businessman who has no scruples, only personal greed.

I didn’t realize that the smarmy yuppie who gets killed (in a classic example of “he’s really bad, he even kills the people working with him” plotting) was Hart Bochner, whom I better know as the director of PCU. (I adore Jeremy Piven, but not in the same way I adore Alan Rickman.)

And Die Hard has both the principals from The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller! (aka Paul Gleason, RIP, and William Atherton)

11 Responses  
Sam Hobart writes:  

Wasn’t the principal in Ferris Bueller Jeffrey Jones?

Johanna writes:  

Darn, you’re right! I was thinking of Real Genius. Thanks for the correction!

James Schee writes:  

This was a really surprising movie for me when I first watched it, in just how much I liked it. Especially since this was the first thing I’d seen Willis in besides Moonlighting, so when I saw previews I was like “what’s he going to do make the criminals laugh themselves to death with funny faces?”

David Oakes writes:  

Funny faces, Eastwood-ain quips, and just a _little_ bit of C4.

Like so many movies before it, it totally reimagined a genre and made it so much more, only to be endlessly copied to the point that it becomes a joke, even in it’s own sequels. But the first movie was darn near perfect, and not even “for an action film”. Everything happened for a reason, no one had to act like an idiot to advance the plot (except the idiot), and you still got to blow stuff up. (The only thing more perfect is to get a big bowl of popcorn and watch it at 1 am on Telemundo. John McCain is even more macho in Spanish.)

Good catch on the characters actors, Joh. And I should know better. Atherton’s character was secondary to the popcorn in “Genius”, and it was this movie rather that really cemented the tautology “William Atherton is a Weasel” in my mind. (Powering the greatest moment in 20th century cinema, Bonnie Bedilia decking him.) But I really should have remembered Gleason. He never gets his props, even among the lofty heights of character actors. Thank you.

Nat Gertler writes:  

Minor additional correction: in Ferris, Jeffery Jones played the vice principal.

Johanna writes:  

I love you Nat.

Nat Gertler writes:  

Actually, it still holds together – if memory serves, Gleason’s Breakfast Club character was also a vice principal. I can’t speak to the Real Genius character, as I’ve not seen that flick.

Yes, yes, I’m nerdy on detail. Thanks for the love, Johanna!

Johanna writes:  

That’s why I love you! You’ve always got the facts.

~chris writes:  

Die Hard also had something rare in action films– intelligence. Twice, Alan Rickman’s character did something I did not immediately figure out– (1) in a cowardly nasal voice beg Willis not to shot him, and (2) order his men to “shoot the glass”– and then later admire the character’s cleverness when the reasons became clear.

I’m amazed that no one here has yet mentioned one of the sexiest bad guys ever: Alexander Godunov. (BTW, I’m straight. No, really, I am! :-))

Johanna writes:  

I really liked the part with the accent — it seems to me that Brits have a lot more flexibility and skill when it comes to that acting tool than Americans do.

I didn’t care as much for Godunov, though. Too beefy for my tastes. :)

Roger A writes:  

You mean Alexander’s not Godunov for you? (Never let it be said that I pass up a chance to make a bad pun.)


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