Decades have passed since the release of 'Die Hard,' and the debate continues. "Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?" But don't worry, I'm not gonna sit here telling everyone how it definitely is or isn't, one way or another. My opinion? It's simply up to the viewer. While I tend to see it as a traditional Christmas movie, I still understand the debate against it. After all, this was initially released as a summer blockbuster (July 15), and to be perfectly frank, no one can argue that the plot has more to do with terrorism than Christmas.
Having said that, and knowing that this is probably the greatest action movie of all time and has been around for ages, there's absolute potential for spoiler talk during this review. I'll be treating it very much as if all my readers have seen it because, honestly, if you haven't watched this yet, please, for the love of God, get on it! Christmas debate aside, it is an incredible ride and features Bruce Willis in his prime, which, in the late 80s, pits him up against action names like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. However, with 'Die Hard,' people initially thought Willis was terrible for the role and seen as something of a "pretty boy" known probably best for his role in 'Moonlighting.'
When it comes to movie casting and jumping to the conclusion that whoever is cast in something will ultimately "suck," I tend to point to Heath Ledger's role as the Joker as living proof that one should never jump to such conclusions. But before Heath, there was Bruce, who did so well that his name became synonymous with the action genre. He also became a real man's man through these films. He wasn't really jacked and was meant to be a bit more of an "everyman," bringing a sort of relatability to the role instead of just another action hero who shows off his muscular prowess.
Another big name involved in this movie was the central villain, played by none other than Snape, himself, Alan Rickman, who was essentially launched into stardom from this movie, and rightfully so. He's still one of the more fun villains to watch, especially when he has any communication with Willis. On top of that, even though, for some reason, in the late 80s/early 90s, everyone had to fall from great heights ('Return of the Jedi,' 'Star Trek III,' 'Temple of Doom,' the list goes on), his fall was perhaps the most memorable and is often placed at the top of not just villain falls, but villain deaths (hey, I warned about spoilers, but honestly, this is a meme at this point).
Plot-wise, it's simple enough. A New York City cop named John McClane (Willis) heads to LA hoping to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), at a Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza, where she works. A German radical named Hans Gruber (Rickman) then storms the building with a team, taking several people hostage, posing as a terrorist and hoping to rob the place of $640 million in untraceable bearer bonds. What he doesn't count on, however, is John playing hero in the background of his operation, getting a couple of assists from his limo driver Argyle (De'voreaux White) and LA cop Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson).
What follows is essentially a rollercoaster ride of nonstop action, complete with fisticuffs brawling, gunfire, explosions, breaking glass, death-defying leaps and, of course, a slew of bad-ass one-liners we've all been quoting for decades now, such as sarcastically mumbling "Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs..." or "Welcome to the party, pal!" or one of the most memorable action movie lines of all time, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!" The Christmas element of the film is also seen all the way through it, which allows it to be a Christmas movie for those who see it as such.
So, the idea of whether or not it belongs with the holiday season truly doesn't matter. Although I claim 'True Lies' to be my favourite all-time action movie based on personal taste, I would probably consider this the all-time best action movie ever made, reevaluating what action flicks could be by making Willis the more fallible star player and setting the bar a little higher. If you're looking for a less conventional movie to watch for the season, check it out. It may be a thrill ride from the late 80s, but it still holds up, and you can decide whether it fits on your list of Christmas movies.