Monday, October 17, 2011

Why we should all watch Die Hard....

I'm in a private film club that meets once a month in the lovely Denzille Lane Cinema. The administrator sends around an Excel sheet via Facebook and you choose whether or not to sign up to attend this month's screening. As the cinema only has about 30 seats,  it's a bit like sitting in someone's very fancy living room.

Anyway, the December screening just went around today, and it's nearly full already. The movie? DIE HARD. Well, it's set at Christmas!

I've already seen Die Hard dozens of times - and I can guarantee that most of the others going will seen it a lot more than that. Yet I'll still watch it on DVD or whenever it's on TV (about once a month!). And we're all going to show up on 2 December to watch it on the big screen. So what's Die Hard's big appeal?

To paraphrase Bill C, it's the script, stupid. Seriously, it's a kick-ass script. And what else would you expect from something co-written by the legendary Steven E. De Souza.

It has everything: a likeable hero with one big flaw (he loves being a cop too much to follow his wife to LA). A villain who is every bit as compelling as the hero (check out that great scene where Hans pretends to be a hostage and he and McClane talk Roy Rogers and guns).

Supporting characters that are interesting and compelling in their own right. There's Holly Gennaro McClane, who takes the fact that her company Christmas party has been hijacked in her capable stride. The traffic cop Powell who gets reluctantly involved in the situation and emerges as McClane's new friend (and gets over his gun phobia into the bargain). Gruber's crazed henchman Karl, who seems to be impossible to kill. And that's just a few - this is a movie packed with cool characters.

Instantly quotable dialogue - there's yippee ky yay but so many other great lines. I especially like the bit where Hans sees the architecture model for the Nakatomi Tower and quotes Alexander the Great. Or anything that comes out of the stupid police chief Dwayne T. Robinson's mouth (as brilliantly played by the late, great Paul Gleason).

Plus there's the great simplicity of the plot: put one good guy in an impossible situation, against better-trained, better-equipped opponents and let the games begin. This is the blueprint for how action movies should be made, but it's also a good example of how a story should be structured for any genre. If you can write a script - whether it's a comedy, a drama or a sci-fi, where you make people care about the characters and keep them compelled as much as this, then you've succeeded.

I can't wait to watch it again - this time on the big screen. Remember, watching Die Hard is fun but can also be classed as an education...

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