I only have an hour or so before work, so don’t expect much right away. Also, this is the weirdest place to put a title? That old man is teabagging it!
If I understand correctly, Andrew from hidingundertrees is planning to watch Die Hard for the first time, which is certainly a momentous occasion for any film lover.
I wish him well. Yippie-kai-yay, etc.
And I wanted to add a brief story of the first time I saw Die Hard in the movie theater in July of 1988. I’d stayed at college over the summer because I had a better job there than I would have had at home. I didn’t have high hopes for the movie because Willis was unknown in this kind of film, having only gained popularity from Moonlighting. I didn’t know John McTiernan and certainly didn’t know Alan Rickman. So: low expectations.
I was surprised, however, that the theater was mostly full, and grabbed an aisle seat for myself. A guy came in when the lights were about to go down and asked to climb over me to one of the last vacant seats. It was easier for him to climb over me than the other dozen or so in the rest of the row, so no big deal.
The movie unspooled and thrilled me for every single one of its 132 minutes. It remains to this day one of my all-time favorites not just as an action film par excellence: but of a character study, marital drama and deconstruction of a number of 80s action-hero film tropes.
But that’s beyond my point, which is this:
When the lights came up, I sighed contentedly and looked around, amazed to see that the guy who’d climbed over me was gone.
It’s absolutely unlikely that he climbed over the other dozen people in the row during the course of the movie; to do so would have been silly and illogical.
No, I was next to him, on the aisle. He had to have climbed over me. It’s just that I genuinely had no memory whatsoever of him doing so, and I was shocked in a truly unprecedented way that he wasn’t there.
This was one of those moments where I felt like I’d learned an important lesson about the immersive power of cinema.
Obviously no one needs me to tell them how wonderful, how iconic this moment would become in action cinema history.
And I do understand that sequels tend to be diminishing returns on something so great, so legendary, so lightning-in-the-bottle. I get it. I know why sequels are made and why filmgoers pay to see them and all of that.
But few sequel tropes have bothered me as much over the years as how they shoehorned YIPPEE-KI-YAY into every subsequent Die Hard movie, because it makes exactly zero sense in any other movie but the original.
Here, he’s saying it as a reaction. A taunt. A comeback to Hans’ comment that he’s a bankrupt American, having seen too many John Wayne movies. It’s a witty, undermining joke that a smartass like McClane uses as a tactical weapon. It makes sense both for character and narrative.
Go back and watch where he says it in the sequels. It’s universally dumb, unmotivated, and - foolishly - often spoken to no one who can hear it. What the hell good is a signature kiss-off line that the villain doesn’t hear?
I’ll always love Die Hard. I’ll always feel fondness for Harder through A Good Day. But I sure wish a screenwriter would have come up with a way to make this line make sense again - or maybe SHOCKING, RIGHT come up with something new?
I’ve mentioned this before, but Die Hard is one of my all-time permanent top-10 placement movies - but I never much cared for the Twelve terrorists. One Cop version of this one-sheet (and yes, I’ve owned both because I was once a bachelor).
I always thought that McClane’s vulnerability and the fact that he wasn’t an unstoppable juggnernaut like his cinematic predecessors Rambo and Commando made him more relatable, more human. He’s afraid, he sweats and bleeds and cries out in fear. To me, The odds are against John McClane…That’s just the way he likes it completely misses the point of the story.
He’s alone, tired… hits the mark much better. He’s also wounded in this one and looks scared rather than cocky. It’s really a different marketing tactic altogether.
"Coming this July" suggests maybe that was a teaser poster, but I’m not sure. Anyone know which of these came first?
And anyone think I’ve probably put too much thought into this over the years?