If cheesy Bing Crosby flicks, animated snowmen, or Claymation reindeer and elves aren’t your glass of spiked eggnog, Christmas is a rough season for movies. For those who prefer a little ass kicking, try spicing up your holiday film fest with “Die Hard.” Although the 1988 blockbuster is commonly remembered as one of the best action flicks in cinema, it’s also a Christmas movie, albeit less adorned with lights and decorations than more traditional fare.
“Die Hard” kicks off on Christmas Eve with NYPD Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) landing in Los Angeles to reunite with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). McClane arrives at his wife’s office, the Nakatomi Plaza building, for the annual Christmas party. However the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his gang of thugs. They take the party guests hostage as a ruse to steal $640 million worth of bearer bonds. McClane, absent during the hostile takeover, contacts LAPD for backup, and meanwhile assumes responsibility for preventing Gruber and company from detonating charges on the roof and stealing the bonds.
Most viewers are familiar with the action aspects of “Die Hard,” so we’ll concentrate instead on the holiday charm. Christmas tunes garnish the film, varying from “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” to Run DMC’s hip hop carol “Christmas in Hollis.” The most significant seasonal tie, and what negates the inevitable “‘Die Hard’ isn’t a Christmas flick” argument is thus: the entire story takes place because of Christmas. If John McClane hadn’t flown to LA for the holiday with his wife, and attended the Christmas party, the epic showdown of McClane vs. Gruber wouldn’t have occurred. Instead, Gruber simply would have sashayed out of the building with the bonds and blown the charges, end of story.
While it might not bleed red and green, John McTiernan’s epic action flick is set on Christmas Eve, contains holiday jingles, and is a much appreciated present to those viewers who can’t stand one more sentimental seasonal film. “Die Hard” balances action and humor perfectly, and the 1988 movie kicked off a successful series of sequels and related media. Go ahead, grab the giant Santa tin of tri-flavored popcorn, pop “Die Hard” in, and compliment the tree lights with the exploding lights.