Take 2: Die Hard
"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."
This is my go-to joke-answer when people ask me what my favourite Christmas film is (the truth is I don’t have a favourite anything), but what always catches me out is just how Christmassy Die Hard really is. From end to end, in his own way, McTiernan captures the spirit of Christmas nicely without making a saccharine or overbearing film.
Bruce Willis is just a regular guy trying to get home to see his kids, and patch up his failing marriage. What says ‘Christmas’ more than family? Alan Rickman is the Grinch that tries to get in the way of his plans. I don’t know who Santa is in this analogy; maybe the limo driver. The cop on the outside is Joseph and the film itself is baby Jesus.
In all seriousness though, something about Die Hard clicks with me every time. The regular-guy-having-a-bad-day idea borrows from the better Hitchcock films, and the way it melds with the action scenes is so fun to watch. Willis clearly enjoys playing a bad-ass. His cocky charm is infectious, as is his determination.
It’s not easy to take a simple idea and execute it well, but Die Hard shows that with carefully orchestrated action scenes and slick screen writing one can achieve greatness without having to stray from a central story. Makes a very difficult job look easy.