“Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…” – John McClane
Merry Christmas! I’m currently sitting down writing this after an INCREDIBLE Christmas dinner and, as soon as I’m done, will be going back through to the living room to sit with my wonderful family. Because here we are: after 11 films, we come to the one Fin and I feel should be given the prestigious honour of being posted on Christmas day. So without further ado, we present everyone’s favourite monkey in the wrench, fly in the ointment and pain in the ass. Die Hard has earned this accolade for two reasons: not only is it a genuine and bona-fide Christmas film, it is also, without a doubt, the PERFECT action movie, which created a paradigm shift in the art of blowing stuff up and looking cool doing it. Here we have a career-defining performance from Bruce Willis as the NYPD cop trapped in a guerrilla war against the dangerously suave Alan Rickman as the terrorist with money on his mind more than political ideals.
‘Whoa whoa whoa’, I hear you cry, ‘this is a CHRISTMAS film blog, matey! We don’t want to hear you gushing about a laddish action film. Where are the Christmas movie staples?! Festive cheer, an emotional heart, an inspiring message…?’ I put it to you that this film has this stuff in spades.
Firstly, the film boldly states that no more should our heroes chomp cigars, have bulging biceps and shrug off injuries with an “Ah ain’t got time to bleed!” (Although, admittedly, Jesse Ventura is awesome in Predator). Here, we have heroes who are damaged and hurting: in John McClane’s case, literally, sustaining grievous injuries and weeping all alone in a corporate washroom while he unloads the things he was too proud or stubborn to say before to a faceless voice on the radio; in the case of Al Powell, emotionally, filled with self-doubt and shame from the fatal mistake that must daily prey on his conscience. Instead of muscle-bound and emotionally stunted he-men, we are rooting for people, ordinary people, who we can identify with. These are people who feel fear and regret just as fully as we can, and yet in extraordinary situations can find it within themselves to carry on. An emotional heart if ever there was one.
The film also addresses how society seems to have lost its way with regards to Christmas and its meaning. The corporate hell of the office party at the start, although flashy, reeks of greed, of modern-day Scrooges who care more about money and winning influence over those around them by attending work functions than actually going home and spending time with the family. The character of Ellis perfectly presents this to us. A genuinely brilliant performance by Hart Bochner portrays a shallow, smarmy suit with a shit-eating grin, gleefully shaming John by highlighting the expensive gifts given to Holly, while both the audience and the hero realise how uncomfortably different a world this is to ours. By the end, many bullets and blowings-up later, the importance of family has been pressed home to us again and again until we get the hero winning the day with the added bonus of rebuilding his broken family.
Still needing an inspirational message? Well, Holly reconnects with the love of her life, John reflects on his own shortcomings as a husband and changes his ways, and Al saves the day by overcoming his personal demons. If I had to put into words the inspirational message to take from this film it’s that it tells us, in the grand tradition of A Christmas Carol, that it’s never too late to change your ways or redeem yourself. Either that or, if in doubt, blow up the building.
…and that’s us. Thank you SO much for sticking with us over this festive season. We’ve loved chatting again about these films and trying frantically to get them into some sort of order we can agree on, and we both hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride with us. For now, we’ll be signing off but, who knows? The summer blockbuster season is now only 6 months away, and they may well deserve some attention…
For now, have a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year! Much love from the ’12 Films of Christmas’ guys!