What better way to delight your Valentine tomorrow than with a trip to see Bruce Willis get covered in blood (probably) in A Good Day to Die Hard? But before you and your lucky date get too excited, it's probably worth appreciating that however good the fifth Die Hard instalment is, it's unlikely to beat the now 25-year-old original, still considered one of the finest action films ever made. And here's why.
Alan Rickman as the baddy
Hans Gruber is, for many action film buffs, the greatest bad guy that ever lived (and then died). But it wasn't so much his ruthlessness or ability to kill without a flinch that made him so iconic. It was the fantastically sarcastic, sneering, nostril-flaring Alan Rickman style in which he did it all. Perhaps his greatest moment came when Gruber demanded the release of the nine members of the Asian Dawn movement in Sri Lanka while on the phone to the police negotiator. "I read about them in Time magazine," comes Gruber's nonchalant response. Classic.
Bruce Willis in a vest
"Bruce Willis in a vest" was once a significant subgenre of the action film world, something that commanded its own shelf in video rental libraries. But back in 1988 it was something new - something different - and when a fresh-faced rising star in his early 30s pulled on John McClane's iconic grubby singlet, Hollywood history was made. The subsequent, frequent attempts to replicate that image just haven't matched up.
Interestingly, the trailer for the latest Die Hard has Willis in a mucky white T-shirt. If the sleeves don't come off, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
It was set entirely in a tower
Who doesn't remember Nakatomi Plaza? With its big underground car park, large ballrooms, elevator shafts and complex ventilation networks, it's one of Hollywood's most legendary locations. But it was precisely because the first Die Hard was set almost solely in the tower that gave the movie a sense of claustrophobia, the feeling that we were trapped in there with McClane, scuttling around trying to pop the baddies off without getting seen and leaving annoying trails of blood on the white flooring.
While Die Hard 2 tried to replicate this in an airport, it didn't quite match up. Then the third and fourth movies scattered their stories across entire cities. A Good Day to Die Hard is set in Moscow and looks unlikely to stay in the cramped confines of Lenin's Mausoleum or something similar.
I have a gun, ho ho ho
Obviously there was a lot of death in Die Hard. It was kind of explicit in the title. But the senseless murdering of security guards and elderly Japanese chief executives was presented with a side dish of humour. For example, when Willis finally gets the better of a giant Teutonic grunt, he ties him to a chair, sticks a Santa hat on him and sends him down to his foes in a lift complete with handy note written on his chest explaining Willis' increased arsenal. Rickman reading out the note in his slow monotone only adds to the humour.
Much like the vest, there was something quite special the first time Willis uttered his famous catchphrase, largely because it actually made sense in the dialogue (Hans Gruber had just referred to him as a cowboy).
Sensing they were onto a winner, scriptwriters wheeled it out for each film afterwards, cowboy or no cowboy, with diminishing returns. The poster for A Good Day to Die Hard, however,actually uses a clever bit of wordplay with "Yippee-ki-yay Mother Russia", clearly referring to the patriotic spirit and multi-ethnicity of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Or something.
A Good Day to Die Hard opens in UAE cinemas on Thursday
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