This is a little embarrassing.
It all starts with a simple question from Bob, “You’ve seen Die Hard, Right?” And I give him a blank stare, hoping that I could plead ‘not born yet,’ but there is nothing I can say to get out of this. I shake my head, and he stares at me in disbelief. I was found guilty of missing a classic movie.
That wasn’t the end of it, of course, the rest of the day was MJ and Bob discussing all the things I didn’t know because I hadn’t seen the movie. Like, “what article of clothing do you always want to put on when someone attacks the Nakatomi Building?” Or, “how do you cure jet lag?” Suffice it to say, there are plenty more examples, each more situational and ridiculous than the one before it.
But, that wasn’t even the first time I received that kind of reaction from someone about Die Hard. A couple years ago I was at the bank with my dad. I don’t remember how it came up, but then the fateful question happened, “you’ve seen Die Hard, right?” When I shook my head no, the teller turned to my father and said that he had failed me. While this man’s statement still makes me angry (because really, screw that guy), I should have thought, maybe it is time to watch Die Hard.
I do feel that I need to mention that I didn’t watch a lot of action movies growing up, (there is actually a list on the whiteboard here at AFJ East with all the movies I need to watch) they just weren’t the things my family watched. At least while I was around (I am the youngest of three). Moreover, it’s also not like I never wanted to see it or had never heard of it, but I had just never gotten around to it.
But the time did not come until a few weeks ago. And now I know what its like to feel like a TV dinner. Now I know to make fists with my toes. Now I know to put on my goddamn shoes.
I honestly enjoyed the movie. Why wouldn’t I? It was thrilling, funny, and fun with a compelling villain (RIP Alan Rickman). It honestly has subtlety. Take for example when John originally enters the Nakatomi Building. He searches through the computer for his wife’s name, but cannot find it under McClane. He finds it under her maiden name. John knew that his marriage was on the rocks, but this is confirmation that it is worse than he thought. It is a solid film on its own. Nevertheless, that brings me to the biggest problem when it comes to Die Hard: its sequels.
The Franchise Problem
Die Hard is five years older than me. By the time I turned 18 there were four Die Hard movies, and one coming the out the next year. By this point, the franchise, which was built on one incredible film, had devolved into mindless action where it makes sense to take down a helicopter with a car.
The question then becomes, do I start watching a franchise that I know becomes a mockery of itself? The same thing applies to the Terminator series. What is the point when I know the series implodes on itself? (Note: I have watched Terminator for the first time recently, and I am happy I did). Maybe all this is just a justification to make up for the fact that I had never seen Die Hard until now, but I also think that it is a plausible reason.
I think the answer to that question is yes. Die Hard (and T1) are movies well worth watching. John McClane is a man with faults, but he does what he can to help the people around him. It is not the first movie’s fault that John becomes a basically unkillable version of the man in the first one. I understand why there are toys (NECA's Cult Classics Series 3) for this movie and why there are shirts for the Nakatomi Christmas party (<Order here from the Last Exit to Nowhere).
I look forward to watching the movie again when it gets closer to winter. I may even pick up the "Die Hard Christmas" book when it is back in stock on Amazon.
Hey! One last thing! Evan is a new writer for AFJ, and this is his sixth article. Evan writes from a diner at the edge of the universe with surprisingly good wi-fi. Tweet at him @Indiecomicblog and look out for more of his articles here on AFJ.
From all of us here at AFJ to Evan: