The Ultimate Christmas Movie – Die Hard – Review

Written by on December 11, 2019

Is Die Hard the Ultimate Christmas Movie?

by Glenn Barr

In 1988, Die Hard plucked Bruce Willis from TV fame (shows like Moonlighting or a guest appearance in Miami Vice) and gifted him with the ultimate career-defining role as wisecracking New York Detective, John McClane. However, Willis was not first choice as the role was turned down by many actors, including Burt Reynolds and Richard Gere. It’s hard to imagine another actor playing the now iconic McClane, but that’s the nature of show business!

Die Hard became a huge worldwide smash-hit and generated four relatively successful sequels. This is largely due to the alarmingly simple plot of the original story; good rich people have a Christmas party in a Los Angeles skyscraper (Nakatomi plaza) and bad greedy terrorists want their money! Naturally, McClane must try to stop them and save the day. Directed with undeniable style by John McTiernan (Predator), we follow McClane as he is invited to the party by his estranged wife, Holly. What follows is some of the most intensely claustrophobic festive action one is ever likely to experience.


Head villain, Hans Gruber, is downplayed exceptionally well by the late great Alan Rickman, to the point where it would be easy to view Gruber as a darkly amusing version of Santa Claus! Stay with me, folks! Gruber has the prerequisite jolly beard and a penchant for providing his gloriously evil little (henchmen) helpers with the best Christmas gift they’re ever likely to receive: $640 million in bearer bonds, to be precise! Indeed, Gruber reassures one of his men with the following line: ‘It’s Christmas, Theo, it’s the time of miracles. So be of good cheer!’ It is true that Gruber was only ever in it for the money, but at least he shared it around! I rest my case.



To continue the festive angle, it’s almost as if McClane is being gradually gift-wrapped for disaster throughout the movie. Let’s look at the evidence. McClane uses a lift-shaft as his base of operations (another confined space within the comparable confinements of the locked-down Nakatomi Plaza building). Later, as his location is revealed, McClane is reduced to crawling inside an air vent to escape capture or death! At the end of the movie, McClane is exhausted and limping towards Holly, hastily gift-wrapped to conceal his… gun! You read it here first folks, forget knowing what a TV dinner feels like, McClane quite literally delivers himself to Santa’s evil little helpers, in a desperate attempt to save his wife. After all, what kind of Christmas would McClane have without Holly? Let’s hope he has some Ivy as backup, just in case!


Is Die Hard the ultimate Christmas movie, or is it merely a movie set at Christmas? Whatever we decide, this tale has definitely stood the test of (Christmas) time, and to quote the message left for Gruber by McClane:



This seems like a perfect opportunity to wish all the dedicated followers an action-packed Christmas. Just don’t go jumping off any exploding buildings!

10 / 10 – The greatest (Christmas) movie ever made, with hidden messages now revealed!


Another great review from Glenn

Glenn also appears on The Indie Show, Tuesdays 20:00 hosted by Brimo.

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