Plot: What’s it about?
John McClane (Bruce Willis) is ready to enjoy his vacation time with his family this Christmas holiday. McClane is a New York City police officer, but he has the holidays off, so he travels to Los Angeles to spend time with his wife, who lives in L.A. for her work. The two have a rocky relationship, but McClane wants to patch things up and be together again. McClane meets his wife at her office building, where her company is holding a Christmas party, and have the building all to themselves. While McClane is cleaning up and making little fists with his toes, things take a more sinister turn, as a team of terrorists invade the building. As the terrorists begin to start the wheels turning on their mission, McClane is able to sneak off without being seen. With his trusty service revolver, McClane tries to battle back against the terrorists, while also attempting to alert the police force. It’s McClane against mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his team of shock troops, who will survive?
While I am sure almost everyone out there has seen this movie, those of you haven’t need to crawl out from under that issue of Star Trek monthly and watch this movie. This film created a new standard for action movies to abide by, and introduced us to the slimeball euro-trash Hans Gruber, who I feel is among the finest of all screen villains. More importantly perhaps, we first shook hands with John McClane, who was not a musclehead or perfectly trained assassin, but just a cop trying to make it through the day and save his marriage. This concept of a normal guy thrust into extreme situations and making a difference is a large factor in what makes this series so good. Well, that and the constant action, which is the true star of the film. Gunfights, fistfights, explosions, Twinkies, and walking on broken glass, it’s all here. Is this the best action movie out there, I don’t think it is, since I would give the nudge to True Lies or Hard Boiled. Maybe not the best, but this is one of the best, and is right behind the ones I mentioned. Do you need this on DVD? Hell yes. While I have a feeling Fox will come back to this series someday, the wait is likely far off, so just pick them up, and sell yours when/if the special editions arrive.
This film was directed by John McTiernan, who knows his way around action movies. All the things we love about the genre are here, while McTiernan manages to put a personal stamp on the film. While I think this is his overall best effort, his other films are also entertaining to a similar degree. While his list of films is short, I still hold him as one of the premier action directors. McTiernan also directed Die Hard: With A Vengeance, Last Action Hero, and Predator, among others. As I am sure you all know, this is the movie that not only made Bruce Willis a box office superstar, but also an action icon. His work here is excellent, and even has some depth, showing a sensitive side here and there. Willis is so perfect for this role, it seems like he is McClane, which helps the impact of the film greatly. Just as vital to the film’s success is Alan Rickman, who steals many scenes as the villain, Hans Gruber. Rickman is known for playing the bad guy, as well as sweeping scenes away from his higher profile costars, and he does that again here. Rickman also steals the show in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Galaxy Quest, and many more. Others appearing include William “I always play an jerk” Atherton (Ghostbusters, Bio Dome), Bonnie Bedelia (Anywhere But Here, Needful Things), Paul Gleason (Johnny Be Good, Nothing To Lose), Reginald Vel Johnson (Tv’s Family Matters).
Video: How does it look?
Die Hard is presented in a non anamorphic widescreen transfer, which is framed at the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The only problem I have with this image is the inconsistent contrast, which sometimes creates overly dark regions on the screen. Other than that, this movie looks better than ever, with bright colors, no compression problems, and a sharp overall picture.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is the type of movie that shows what home theater sound systems can do! Using every speaker in the house, this mix will have you clutching the armrest, hoping you don’t catch a stray bullet. Between the explosions and gunfire, the surrounds will be needed a day off after this flick. But even with all the shit hitting the fan, the spoken word is still loud and clear.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A six minute behind the scenes featurette is included, which features interviews with cast and crew. The disc also has theatrical trailers for the Die Hard series and a slide show, which shows some stills from the film as well as a poster graphic.