Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988, USA)

Die Hard is one of the defining films of American 80s action, but it wasn't a guaranteed success. Look at the casting. The iconic role of John McClane was originally offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, but both turned it down. Bruce Willis, an actor primarily known for his comic role on the TV series Moonlighting, was not an obvious first choice. Yet his everyman style became an obvious point of identification for the film. The film succeeds largely because we identify with John McClane, and the entire first segment of the film sets up his current marital issues with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) - something many people can relate to. 

The film tells the story of a terrorist takeover of a skyscraper. The plot is relatively simple, and since the film was released has often been imitated by other action films taking place with characters trapped in restrictive settings. Notably, Die Hard not only launched the career of Bruce Willis (his value at the box office became immense after the film's release), but also Alan Rickman. Rickman would go on to become one of the most popular actors of the 1990s, often cast in similar villain-like roles - such as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. 

Die Hard is the quintessential popcorn movie - it is essentially non-stop action from start to finish. The film does not take itself too seriously, and the presence of comedy in the film - including numerous one-liners - became an obvious influence on the action films of the 1990s. The film also has become a Christmas staple for many, including us here at Cinephilic Musings. While it was not thought of as a Christmas film at the time, the film's Christmas setting and numerous references to the holiday have made it a Christmas staple.


8/10

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