Tag Archives: Die Hard

Christmas Movies That Aren’t

As the Christmas season winds down and we reach that most treasured of days, I hope that you are spending the next couple of days close to those you love. As you fill your gaping maw with sugared treats and completely overindulge yourself in every form of excess, do so as a family. The world of DVD and digital streaming has been overloaded to bring you all of the well known holiday classics which take us all back to a simpler time in our lives and remind us of the true reason for the season.

Each year I enjoy a few standard Christmas classics, mostly of the comedic variety. Probably the same films and television episodes with which you are familiar and appear on many of these lazy, hastily written holiday movie guides. While putting forth even less effort I bring you:

Top 5 Movies That Mention Christmas Briefly, but do not Place The Holiday Central to Their Plots(catchy no?)

L.A. Confidential:

Based on the James Ellroy novel of same name and boasting an all-star cast of Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacy and Nicole Kidman. This police drama about the deaths of hookers who look like movie stars set in 1940s Los Angeles is a top notch thriller. Everyone is dirty, but they don’t all necessarily prefer it that way. The film succeeds by showing that everyone has a motivation for their choices, right or wrong.  So where is the Christmas? This film opens with several drunken police officers leaving an office Christmas party to work over some suspects believed to have injured a fellow officer. This event termed “Bloody Christmas” by the newspapers is in many ways what brings our heroes together on their way to solving the crime.

Lethal Weapon: 

image property of Warner Bros.

image property of Warner Bros.

Before Mel Gibson was an Oscar winning director and crazy conspiracy theory spouting DUI recipient, he was an actor in action movies. This little gem from the late 80s is still the best example of that work. Gibson plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal cop who shoots first and later, often failing to ask questions. His partner is Roger Murtaugh played by another future crazy person in the form of Danny Glover. The two uncover a massive drug smuggling ring which leads them to Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey being another future nut job). Working on this film must have come with some amount of hazard pay. Lethal Weapon is also responsible for 3 sequels and turning every movie for 15 or so years into a buddy/action/comedy. So where is the Christmas? Late in the film when Mr. Joshua decides to make things personal, it is a Christmas Eve street fight between him and Riggs that decides nothing and ends about the way you would expect it to.

 

Gremlins:

Image Property of 20th Century Fox

Image Property of 20th Century Fox

Is this a horror movie? Is it a comedy? I cannot say for certain. I can say it was the 80s, I was a boy and I loved this movie. A teenager receives a Christmas gift in the form of a strange adorable and easily merchandised pet. He is instructed to not get him wet, not feed him after midnight and not to expose him to bright light. He does all of these things and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

 

 

 

Die Hard/Die Hard 2: Die Harder: 

It seemed simple enough. Fly out to LA and visit your estranged wife for the holidays. When terrorists take over the Nakatomi tower they didn’t count on wise-cracking New York city cop John McLane and his ability to… well… kill terrorists. The best action movie–maybe ever– begins and ends with Christmas.

image property of 20th century Fox

image property of 20th century Fox

While subsequent sequels removed the Christmas angle, Die Hard 2 reveled in it. With Holly and John McLane reconciled, living in LA and visiting DC for the holidays. Who could have expected that terrorists would take over the airport? Never travel with John McLane on the holidays unless you like spending Christmas eve fending off terrorists.

Have a Merry Christmas Cool Shippers!!

What did I miss?

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Oh, Just Die Hard Already

Remember when we first met John McClane? He was just your anything but mild, hardly mannered, stereotypical New York City movie cop flying into L.A. to make up with his estranged wife and spend Christmas with his kids. Suddenly, during the office holiday extravaganza, our average hero is launched into a hardly average situation. Terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Ooooooo, a European terrorist! So 80s! ) take over the skyscraper to steal some bearer bonds, and basically force  John McClane to kill them all in a very surly fashion.

I adored Die Hard from the moment I first saw it on HBO as a teenager. The film’s well crafted story and dazzling effects still hold up to this day. Then, like any good thing, they had  to go and wreck it up. How you ask? By making an obligatory sequel, of course.

Image property of Twentieth century Fox

Die Hard 2 :Die Harder (Yes, it’s really called that.) was released in 1990 and portrayed John McClane (now with the LAPD) in the middle of a terrorist take over of the Dulles airport in Washington, DC. The terrorists all have to be killed, and who but John McClane is surly enough to take care of that task?

Nobody! Oh, and did I mention it is Christmas in this one, too?

John McClane has to be the least lucky guy on the planet! Every time he travels, he has to kill terrorists.

Every time!

I suppose you could argue that since McClane survives each time that he is the luckiest guy on the planet, but you would be wrong. Fast forward five years, and we find John McClane an alcoholic suspended from the NYPD and on the verge of being divorced by his wife. Just then, a terrorist forces him to run all over New York City and solve puzzles to prevent bombs going off in public places. Die Hard: With a Vengeance brought a nice close to the saga of an everyman placed in extraordinary circumstances…and it wasn’t even Christmas.

But wait, we’re not through, yet. Terrorists are hacking computers in D.C. Better get John McClane to drive a hacker from NYC to the Pentagon! Wait, the whole city is being held hostage by their technology? We need the analog cop and his new and exciting, wise cracking sidekick! Live Free or Die Hard was released on July 4, 2007 and continued to place John McClane in ridiculous circumstance after ridiculous circumstance until it seemed as though he was going to die hard. But, of course, it was the terrorists who ended up dying hard.

With A Good Day to Die Hard hitting theaters in February, I cannot help but look at the roots of this story and wonder if there is anything left worth wringing out of it. I can understand why the first sequel was made. Die Hard changed the action movie genre for good. Every action movie from 1988-90 was seen as an imitator: Speed was Die Hard on a bus, Cliffhanger was Die Hard on a mountain. Why not cash in?

Image property of Twentieth Century Fox

But, what have we done to John McClane in the process? He went from being a wise- cracking everyday guy to a terrorist slayer. I am sure movie terrorists tell their children to behave or John McClane will get them. He is no longer relatable. John McClane as a detective has more special ops and weapons training than all of Seal Team Six, but he doesn’t hire those skills out. He goes on about his humdrum day to day life until the terrorists make it personal.

I will watch at least one more Die Hard movie, mostly out of pure obligation to the original, but I’ve got to admit, this time I’m just not feeling it.

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