“Die Hard” has established the archetype for its corner of action films so well, it’s easy to imagine it getting lumped together with much of the subpar fodder that it has directly inspired. No copy, however, can match its unique formula of putting an everyman in a world of gritty action, big explosions and acerbic comedy.
“Yippie-ki-yay, (unprintable),” spoken by Bruce Willis, is one of cinema’s most memorable lines.
Character assets and tics that are only hinted at in the corner of the frame come back to shift the plot later on. For a movie with the minimalist of plots economy of story, it’s remarkable how everything bends itself into a pretzel so it all comes together.
Carrying the story most is Willis, who, of course, didn’t play the first common guy caught in an action plot way over his head. Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” comes to mind as a vigilante taking on crime in his neighborhood, as does the original TV series “The Fugitive” and even the Indiana Jones movies.
What Willis brings in spades is two things. One is the levity of his humor. Unlike the humorless Bronson, the laconic Indiana Jones, and just about everyone save James Bond, Willis plays a wit. Unlike, Bond, however, Willis’s humor is rough. It’s derived from his character’s time on the street, not from his erudite knowledge.
This is enhanced by the other thing that Willis brought in his character: his reluctance in the story. His character found himself in an extraordinary situation. Not out of heroism, however, but out of seeming necessity. This makes his character a pioneering anti-hero.
Having to step up in a tough situation is the major theme in this movie. With a healthy dose of humor and unhealthy amounts of pain, Willis gives “Die Hard” a well worn face. One that typical Hollywood, which reflexively moves to the shiny and new, has not been able to recreate.
‘Die Hard’ (1988) • Where to see it: The Grumpy Pig, 65-4 Maoming Rd N.
• When to see it: December 10, 8pm
• Price: Free (reserve a space by calling 021-6217-3355)
• What to see: A classic action flick that set a template for literally dozens of Bruce Willis movies, along with countless others. Willis plays a grizzled New York City cop in LA who gets caught up in an apparent terrorist plot to kidnap people, including his estranged wife, in a skyscraper office building.
• Brian’s score: 10/10