movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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DIE HARD (1988)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Gleason, De'Voreaux White, Alexander Godunov, Reginald Veljohnson
Director: John McTiernan
Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver
Screenplay: Jeb Stuart, Steven E. de Souza
Cinematography: Jan De Bont
Music: Michael Kamen
Approximate Running Time: 128 minutes
Warnings: Swearing, semi-nudity, violence
Rating:

Alan Rickman as Hans GruberCategory: Action/Crime

The Plot: As the Nakatumi Corporation celebrate Christmas and a successful new year, a bunch of German 'terrorists' are planning to invade the building. Shortly before the terrorists get there, John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York cop separated from successful Nakatumi executive, Holly Gennaro, arrives to spend Christmas with his children. While he is freshening up in an executive bathroom, the terrorists gatecrash the party and take take the CEO. While the terrorists are rounding up everyone, McClane makes an escape and begins a sequence of events to try and foil the terrorists without bringing harm to any of the innocent people of the Nakatumi Corporation.

Comment: At the time, this was an ambitious movie, casting the relatively unknown Alan Rickman, against the mediocre TV star of Moonlighting (a 1980's detective/comedy series), Bruce Willis. And from such origins, arose two star actors who went on to lead very different but successful film careers... Oh yeah, the film was a box office smash spawning 2 sequels.

The basic is plot is the hackneyed 'good guy against multiple villains,' but thanks to copious amounts of special effects, some humorous scenes, a clever villain and a bruised and battered hero, the films premise works. Willis and Rickman also apparently collaborated with the scriptwriters after filming began to add jokes and ideas.

Although most people were familiar with Bruce Willis from his Moonlighting days, this was the debut movie role that was to allow Willis to enter the stratosphere in Hollywood. It also seems to have set the scene for the character Bruce Willis has played in pretty much every movie since... Willis convincingly (as he should know how!) plays the tough guy with a soft heart and a body of steel who manages to outsmart the villains.

Alan Rickman was cast as Hans Gruber as Joel Silver saw him in the play, Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway. Although Rickman claims he got the part because he came cheap (after Bruce Willis's $7million fee), he made Hans Gruber appear as an intelligent gentleman thief, not a violent terrorist. This added a level of class to the film that might have been missing if anyone else had been cast and played the conventional villain. It set the stage for a new class of Hollywood villain: intelligent, humorous, considerate, ruthless...

It is probably fortunate that McClane and Gruber were convincing lead roles because the supporting cast are all pretty cheesy... As rumor would have it, Bedelia was saved from certain ruin by Rickman stating it was beneath Gruber to rip her blouse open (although one semi-naked woman was still snuck into the movie as the terrorists take over the party...). However, Al (Reginald Veljohnson), the cop who becomes McClane's liaison with the police and Argyle (De'Voreaux White), McClane's limo driver for the evening are not spared and are pretty corny in their respective roles.

Die Hard is a fun action movie with some good casting, good lines and plenty of special effects.

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