I was interviewed recently on the influence of Die Hard in the action genre, and, while I was mulling it over in my head, all these little details started sticking out about the flick, making me realize how much care went into the making of it. Then I found Janice Hardy’s wonderful article about the Seamless Plotting of Die Hard and everything fell into place. Die Hard isn’t the average action film by any means- it’s the little details in the plot and characters that give it the extra oomph to push it onto just about every persons’ “Best Action Movie” list. Expanding on the above article, here are some of the reasons why Die Hard is pretty much the best action movie ever.
- John McClane being barefoot is set up in the first scene and continues to be an important factor throughout the film.
- The Rolex watch mentioned in the beginning of the film comes into play later when Hans Gruber catches on to it.
- Holly flips over the picture of her family, preventing Hans from connecting her to her family (and McClane) until late in the movie.
- McClane is never shown as incompetent just to keep the story moving.
- McClane doesn’t give in to Hans’ threats: Hans says to give him the detonators or Ellis dies, and McClane says nothing. He prioritizes the good of the whole over the good over one (kind of douchey) dude.
- The characters are well developed, even down to the lowest henchman, which doesn’t happen often in action movies. More often than not, the henchmen are generic bad guys with no personality.
- Argyle, the limo driver, could have been a passing extra, but is given a personality by showing him hanging out in the limo, listening to music, completely oblivious to what’s going on for most of the film.
- Karl, Hans secondhand man, had a brother who McClane kills early on, giving Karl a personal vendetta against McClane, one which he values above even following Hans’ orders.
- Hans’ computer hacker is gleeful and apathetic about the violence going on around him.
- One henchman, with gun in hand, is posed and ready for the police to attack when he sees some candy. He slowly reaches down and grabs a candy bar even though there’s an impending attack.
- Al Powell, a character not introduced until late in the film, gets an entire backstory and character arc.
- Alan Rickman is brilliant.
- Hans Gruber is brilliantly evil.
- John McClane is a witty, snarky, badass with a human touch.
Add to the list in the comments below.
This is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!
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