Monday, July 15th marks the 25th anniversary of the American debut of the now classic action thriller, Die Hard. Who knew that a former bartender, Walter Bruce Willis, who was the highly unlikely star of the ABC romcom Moonlighting, would become not only one of the most iconic action movie stars in cinema history but one of Hollywood’s greatest motion picture stars period?
“Come out to the coast, we’ll have a few laughs.”
As the recent article in Maxim points out (sorry, no Hometown Hottie pix) Die Hard changed the action flick game by creating a template, dare I say a new sub-genre within the action stable, that allowed the follow-what-works mentality of the film industry a perfect model for practically all male led action dramas. From Wesley Snipes as Passenger 57 to Sam L.’s Snakes on a Plane to Channing Tatum saving the White House to Keanu Reeves trying hard not to die on a bus, over the past 25 years Hollywood has banked billions copying the simple one man against impossible odds theme of the John McTiernan helmed film.
The Maxim article on Die Hard:
Yes, John McClane liked the sequined shirts of Roy Rogers (so did I) but his “yippee ki-yay motherfucker” was full on Shane meets Hang ’em High‘s Marshal Jed Cooper, not the milk and cookies cowboy singer’s approach to life on the range. And how long did Alan Rickman get roles after his bad ass turn as supersmart, superstylish Euro supervillain Hans Gruber? Answer…he is still rolling hard.
“Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there.”
After the film struck gold at the box office Die Hard morphed into its own industry, birthing sequels like rutting rabbits. After the original there was:
Die Hard 2 (1990). With my favorite TV cop ever, Dennis Franz playing an airport cop and John Amos offering bad times in cahoots with William Sadler, still one of the hardest working second fiddles in Hollywood. He was William Fichtner slightly before William Fitchner.
Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995). Arguably Sam Jackson’s first big budget action starring turn. Later he and Willis would team up to make Unbreakable, maybe the most realistic (if not the best) Batman/Joker story ever told. And if you don’t think Unbreakable was Shyamalan’s take on those immortal foes, watch it again.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007). Featuring Timothy Olyphant in a bad guy role which propelled him into the superb Justified, created by the incredible Elmore Leonard. Also it had that former Apple TV ads kid, Justin Long, and a very good cameo by a self deprecating Kevin Smith. And incredible beauty Maggie Q, fresh from her sidekick work on Mission Impossible III, played an Olyphant henchman that would help score her own TV series, Nikita.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). Well, maybe they should have stopped in 2007 or at least provided a truthful title like A Good Day to Homage Die Hard. At least Moscow photographed beautifully, though. A Good Day’s sole purpose was to pay tribute to the original’s 25th anniversary, as evidenced by the ending during which the McClane children, now all grown up, serve as the proof for the longevity (and continuity) of the Die Hard brand.
But a bad sequel won’t stop the McClane train, look for Die Hardest in 2015!
Yippee Ki-yay, motherfuckers!