Genre Movie #11: “Die Hard” (1988)
It restored a measure of human vulnerability to the high-tech shoot-’em-up… Audiences dug the flesh-and-blood struggles of NYPD cop John McClane (Willis), trudging on glass-slashed feet to save his wife from terrorists, just as they dug the middle-aged bickering of the main characters in another 1988 action film, “Midnight Run.”
“Midnight Run” is another great, funny action movie that’s held up extremely well, not the least of which because Tom McCleister, one of our Durham friends and neighbors, co-stars in it. But back to “Die Hard.”
Even when the film is cross-cutting between multiple lines of action in several locations, and killing people off by the bushel, you’re never confused about what’s happening, where you are, who you’re looking at, or what’s at stake. It is as respectfully classical an action film as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Aliens“—a rare Hollywood popcorn picture with a deep sense of film history, and one that can be endlessly re-watched, always revealing new things.
Zoller Seitz doesn’t just think its the best action movie, but one of the best movies ever.
The expanded cast of characters is so well-drawn and seems such a part of a community, however makeshift, that parts of “Die Hard” remind me of “Casablanca,” a film with no dead spots and no uninteresting characters, only wit, heart, action and suspense.
I could go on with the clips, or you could read the whole thing here: “Die Hard in a Building: An Action Classic Turns 25”