Viking Night: Die Hard
By Bruce Hall
December 30, 2014
This just in - the greatest Christmas movie ever made is Die Hard. In fact, Die Hard is without question one of the top five movies ever made, period. It radically improved the action movie genre, turned Bruce Willis into America’s most relatable hero, and permanently made “Nakatomi Plaza” a metaphor for any and all awesomely huge explosions. A quarter century later, two of those three things have been completely ruined, either by a largely mediocre stream of sequels or by Bruce Willis’ increasingly Shatner-esque ego. But the greatness of the original Die Hard cannot be denied, and the easiest way to fight terrorism is still to walk into a crowded room, say “Yippie ki yay, motherfucker” and shoot whoever doesn’t laugh.
But what many people forget is that Die Hard wasn’t just a movie about Bruce Willis saving his marriage by kicking terrorist ass - it’s a Christmas movie about Bruce Willis saving his marriage by kicking terrorist ass. Die Hard taught us that crime doesn’t pay, love conquers all, and limousine rides are free when it’s narratively expedient. If there’s a better, more inspiring illustration of the meaning of Christmas, damned if I know what it is. So as the yuletide season wanes, I feel it appropriate to revisit one of our most cherished holiday classics. Just remember - every time Bruce Willis snaps a terrorist’s neck, an angel gets its wings.
Let us begin. Here are a few things we learn from the opening minutes of Die Hard.
First, it's apparently possible to sit next to someone on a plane for six hours and not say a word until you land, when they will turn to you and offer an unsolicited nugget of obvious foreshadowing. John McClane (WIllis) is a New York cop, which means he can carry a gun anywhere in America and use it to indiscriminately pump bullets into anyone he wants. Although this is certainly true today, it wasn’t back in 1988 - which makes him just that much more awesome. Also, you could still smoke in airports, and drinking while pregnant was apparently still a thing. McClane and his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) have two daughters (a totally lame son would be retconned in later), whom John does not enjoy answering expository questions about from nosy limo drivers who aren’t going to matter again until the third act.
These are all important things, but all you really need to remember is that McClane is an annoying prick who became jealous of his wife when she landed a posh gig at a major corporation, making four times his salary. Instead of riding the gravy train, he threw a fit, drove her off, and has now flown across a continent to continue the argument. Yes, this is your hero.
Fortunately, their discussion is interrupted by a gang of globetrotting terrorists, intent on spreading Christmas cheer (to themselves) by robbing Holly’s boss of $640 million. Sure, nobody told Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his mulleted band of Eurotrash henchmen that even back then, it might have been easier to steal that much money with a computer. But then you may not have lived long enough to see a member of the Royal Shakespeare company go toe to toe with a Seagram’s wine cooler salesman for control of both Nakatomi plaza AND Bonnie Bedelia’s impressive mountain of hair.