Die Hard

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: John McTiernan
Writers: Jeb Stuart, Steven E. de Souza,
  from the novel Nothing Lasts Forever
  by Roderick Thorp

  • Bruce WillisJohn McClane, NYPD
  • Bonnie Bedelia — Holly Gennero McClane
  • Hart Bochner — Harry Ellis
  • Alexander Godunov — Karl
  • Alan Rickman — Hans Gruber
  • Reginald VelJohnson — Al Powell, LAPD
  • Devoreaux White — Argyle

Twentieth Century Fox: 1988

132 minutes February 2007

Action-adventure, all the way

Die Hard is an action-adventure movie, realistic, exciting, and suspenseful. The dramatic unity is tightly focused: a terrorist takeover of a Los Angeles high-rise office building, and a New York City policeman who happens to be visiting his estranged wife at an after-hours company party in the building, and decides he must do what he can to stop them.

Bruce Willis propels the movie. As John McClane, he is a never-say-quit, die-hard sort of guy, a regular cop who is a creative, tough, and determined fighter. Being severely outnumbered and outgunned simply makes him thoughtful without slowing down his inventive countermeasures.

Reginald VelJohnson is a Los Angeles police sergeant, the first official outsider on the scene of the crisis, who develops a walkie-talkie rapport trying to coordinate with Willis inside the building.

Alan Rickman is excellent as the head of the gang, with a great mix of sophisticated underplay and ruthless overplay. The villains are scary and their villainy well-motivated.

The plotting moves quickly with some fine dramatic surprises and even a few unexpected bits of humor. At a few points, some extra dialogue would have justified or smoothed over some unlikely progressions, but nothing too critical.

Die Hard is well done and very enjoyable; an excellent action film.


© 2007 Robert Wilfred Franson

Addendum: idiocy & insults

Die Hard 2 (1990) is not quite a sequel, rather a movie similar in intent to the original, with policeman John McClane stumbling into a high-stakes crisis involving a takeover of Dulles Airport; and with a few other characters from the L.A. crisis. Unfortunately it falls far short. The action seems too often frenzied rather than swift, and the plotting has flaws way beyond believability; leading the viewer to wonder if any of the heroes or villains or anybody in authority are thinking in other than scattered flashes.

You won't be persuaded by the dialogue, because profanity and insults frequently substitute for conversation; leading the viewer to wonder if the director and screenwriters don't trust the actors to act all the way through the film, or just can't think of enough plot-worthy bits for the actors to say or do.

It's watchable; but you're better off seeing the original Die Hard again.

Further sequels follow.



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