Meghana Krishnamurthy, Second Year, Film and Television
Can any Christmas list be complete without Die Hard (1988)?
The film Die Hard doesn’t scream Christmas from the title, or the genre. Although it may not be your typical ‘fluffy’ Christmas rom-com, it still makes my Christmas list along with classics like Home Alone (1990), The Polar Express (2004) and Love, Actually (2003).
Brooklyn 99’s (2013- ) Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) claims that ‘Die Hard is the best cop movie of all time.’ That may (or may not) be the case when looking at the film as a standalone. However, when weighing it up against the sequels that follow in the Die Hard franchise, his statement may not ring so true. So here it is: my definitive ranking of the Die Hard films!
5. A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
The fifth instalment in the franchise is undoubtedly the weakest. I think the problems stem from the fact that the story does not take place in a city within the United States. This is the biggest pitfall of all, because it takes away everything that the audience associates with the franchise. On top of the cliched Russian villain, we get a “007 of Plainfield, New Jersey,” in the form of John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) son Jack (Jai Courtney). Now, I don’t think Jai Courtney did a bad job, he just struggled with the thin script material he was given to work with. The ultimate Hail Mary was the final showdown in the unconvincing setting of Chernobyl, which really ruined the film for me. Not to put a damper on it all, but the only parts I enjoyed were the conversation pieces between McClane and his son, which seemed to contribute some gravity to the situations.
4. Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
My favourite quote from this film has got to be when Justin Long’s Matt Farrell runs up to McClane after he’s jumped out of a car at high speed, and in a mix of shock and total awe shouts 'you just killed a helicopter with a car!' In a way, this sums up pretty much the whole plot of the film. There are so many action sequences one after the other, that in a way, this film becomes reliant on them to keep the viewer interested. One exception is when villain Timothy Olyphant pretends to blow up the White House. That would have been a bit more like the Die Hard we know, instead of the jingoistic cyber related plot (which is at times hard to grasp)..
3. Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
I can start off by saying that this film actually did very well in following up the explosive Die Hard. Let’s also not forget that this is a Christmas feature, so on that basis, Die Hard 2 ticks all the vibes of X-Mas. Christmas Trees? Check. Decorations? Check. Snow? Check! However, there are certain elements which make the film’s formula a little more repetitive than it ought to be. As I watch, I am in the same boat as McClane, asking himself how 'the same shit (could) happen to the same guy twice,' although trying to stop a plane with nothing more than two burning sticks is certainly new. The film keeps you intrigued with twists and turns all the way through, and one smashing ejector seat.
2. Die Hard (1988)
New Christmas game. Take a shot every time you read ‘Die Hard’ on here. It won’t be the last because the original didn’t make the top of my list! Ah. The classic Die Hard. A canon holiday watch even thirty-two years later; it’s still having screenings at Odeon in Taunton! Memorable dialogues, an amazing villain, but dare I say – a little overrated. This may be the influence of an aggressive Bristruths that I read earlier in the day, but the singular storyline of the film can get a bit thin. As much as Sir Alan Rickman shines as Hans Gruber, and effectively ranks as Ultimate Action Movies’ number one villain of all time, I expected a little bit more from his objective as a terrorist/or not a terrorist, than just money. Of course, I’m only nit-picking here, because it’s such a great film. The film feels a little claustrophobic being confined to the interior of Nakatomi plaza, but the comic relief provided by Argyle the limo driver, and Reginald VelJohnson’s Sergeant Powell outside the building is well needed and a perfect balance.
1. Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)
Plot twist! That’s right. Unlike most lists on the internet, Die Hard 3 is the best in the franchise for me. It is the one where John McClane and his best friend Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus, traipse around New York playing Simon Says listening to a cool and collected Jeremy Irons, who plays the perfect tribute to Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in his own way. Sadly, this one ranks pretty low on the Christmas scale, as there’s absolutely nothing that makes you think of the holidays. But, I’m a sucker for sequels. I like the familiarity that it gives, being able to better relate to the plot because of the previous film. And what could be sweeter than a good ol’ revenge plot? Sure, there are a few elements which are a bit unbelievable, like the emptying of Fort Knox with absolutely no one around to witness it, but it only adds to the stakes, because after all, that’s what Die Hard is all about! Only this time, John McClane doesn’t have to go it alone, and the balance that Zeus’ character gives is the perfect antidote with comic relief, bringing the film back to its roots.Jake Peralta isn’t entirely wrong. Die Hard is the best cop movie of all time, but not necessarily the best out of the rest in the franchise. Every film has its ups and downs, but for me, Die Hard 3 takes the cake, jumping on a table with a machine gun, yelling “welcome to the party pal!”
Do you agree with our list?