14 Reasons Why Die Hard is Pretty Much the Best Action Movie Ever

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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.

 

  1. John McClane being barefoot is set up in the first scene and continues to be an important factor throughout the film.
  2. The Rolex watch mentioned in the beginning of the film comes into play later when Hans Gruber catches on to it.
  3. Holly flips over the picture of her family, preventing Hans from connecting her to her family (and McClane) until late in the movie.
  4. McClane is never shown as incompetent just to keep the story moving.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Hans’ computer hacker is gleeful and apathetic about the violence going on around him.
  10. 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.
  11. Al Powell, a character not introduced until late in the film, gets an entire backstory and character arc.
  12. Alan Rickman is brilliant.
  13. Hans Gruber is brilliantly evil.
  14. 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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12 thoughts on “14 Reasons Why Die Hard is Pretty Much the Best Action Movie Ever

  1. Jessica Syntax

    I saw this and the following two over the holidays, and I could not agree more. This movie gets better with time, and in an age where action has turned into cgi stunts, seeing a movie that is so visuallly engrossing and physical was so refreshing…and SO exciting! Another reason to add to this list is Holly’s behavior in general. She is SO bad ass. Keeping cool and collected, stepping up when neccesary, and having as much snark and wit as John, but in her own, quiet, feminine way.

    And Sgt. Al Powell (i just noticed the actor has my same birthday!). If it wasn’t for him, and their dynamic – that night would’ve been much harder for John lol

  2. Marc Morrell

    Both the city police and the FBI are seen as incompetent, testosterone-pumped know-it-alls, with no street cred or instincts, who follow protocols, even when it seems impractical. This makes Al and John McClane look like geniuses. My favorite line by Al is, “Do you need a breath mint?”

  3. frank1569

    15. ‘Die Hard’ is actually the story of a tough but sensitive man making a last ditch effort to rescue his marriage and family, an effort interrupted by a gang of ruthless thieves. And before he can ‘save the day,’ he has to admit he was wrong, apologize and swear his love for his wife (through Sgt Al Powell.)

    That’s what separates ‘Die Hard’ from all the sequels, and nearly every other action movie ever made.

  4. mackmm

    I recommend reading “Nothing lasts forever” by Roderick Thorp which Die Hard was based on. Very similar, main character is older is visiting his daughter. Two main differences other than the ending.

    Die Hard was my favorite I remember it’s run & popularity lasted from Summer all the way until Winter when it was first released. I had never heard of it until me and my high school friends went to the movies and they were showing a special sneak preview.

    For years every time I watched it I picked something up new in the film. The last thing I remember noticing was the bet the two terrorists made on whether Nakatomi would give up the codes. It was those subtle moments in the film that didn’t need explaining Brilliant!

    My Number one reason was in a world of Rambo’s Terminators Norris’s’ss’ and such Willis broke the action star mold. Wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time- Original tagline from film.

  5. The Actioners

    1. Holly holds her own versus Gruber, very rare considering how females are exploited in most action movies.

    2. The film’s awesome jabs at the media, ex. “Helsinki, Sweden”.

    3. Run-DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis”

  6. Scott

    Are You Nuts???!!!! Die Hard was a great movie, one of the best, but Raiders for the Lost Ark is the all time greatest action adventure movie.

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  8. John D

    John McClane is an everyman. As a character, he’s easier for an audience to identify with than a James Bond or a Rambo. Even though he’s outgunned and outclassed by his opponents, he refuses to give up. He wins the day through sheer perseverance. In doing so, he gives hope to the rest of us that we can hold our own out there in the big, bad world. Also, his wisecracks are first-rate. In the world of blood and guts action heroes, he is the King of One Liners.

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  10. E

    This isn’t mentioned much, but Die Hard is also a great Christmas movie. It takes place on Christmas Eve, during the Nakatomi Christmas Party. There are subtle reminders during the film – Christmas in Hollis on the limo tape deck… the jingle bells that are used in the music throughout the movie… “Now I have a machine gun! HO HO HO!”… and the Christmas tree that falls over after the roof blows up, just to name a few. However, my favorite Christmas moment in the movie is at the end where the endless supply of bonds and ash rain down on everyone outside the building, effectively causing a white Christmas as “Let it Snow!” plays over the credits!

  11. THOMAS ANDERSON

    TERMINATOR 2 IS THE GREATEST R-RATED ACTION MOVIE OF ALL TIME, IT IS BETTER THAN DI E HARD!

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