a decade of zanity

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oh my God, the quarterback is toast!

Title: Die Hard (1988)

The action blockbuster that launched Bruce Willis onto stardom. He was already an established TV star in Moonlighting. And the competition was tight for big budget action stars at the time, namely, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Mel Gibson. Die Hard immediately placed Bruce Willis among them. And he seemed to outlast them all, with possibly the exception of Mel Gibson. And that would be a close call.

Han Gruber falling to death in Die HardHans Gruber played by Alan Rickman falling to his death in Die Hard

Another star to rise from Die Hard was Alan Rickman. His portrayal of Hans Gruber opposing Bruce Willis' John McClane was a scene stealer, if not mesmerizing. To this day, I can't say the word "detonator" without mimicking Rickman's fake German accent, at least in my head. Die Hard was his big screen debut, but he was already acting in British TV shows. Since 2001, Alan Rickman had been playing Professor Severus Snape in all the Harry Potter movies.

The supporting casts in Die Hard were fantastic as well and very likeable. What little role they had, they made the most of it and had become classics themselves:
  • Special agents Johnson and Johnson (Robert Davi and Grand L. Bush from Colors) were a great dry comic relief in a movie that already gave chuckles in between action.
  • Argyle (De'voreaux White) ... I just can't forget that name.
  • Harry Ellis (Hart Bochner). "Hans. Bubi. I'm your white knight!" This guy should have been a bigger star.
  • Theo (Clarence Gilyard Jr.). See title of the post. "Oh my God, the quarterback is TOAST!" has been listed in the Urban Dictionary.
  • Sergeant Al Powell. Reginal VelJohnson reprised this role in an episode of Chuck (Chuck versus Santa Claus).
  • Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson. Paul Gleason was pretty good at playing clueless authoritative figures.
  • Richard Thornburg. Excellently played by William Atherton as an egotistical reporter who looked to expose John McClaine's identity for want of bumping up his career. Of course, he didn't care that doing so endangered McClane and his family. He's good at playing egotistical characters (Walter Peck in Ghost Busters and Professor Hathaway in Real Genius).
Die Hard was simply the right mix of character chemistry, action, and humor. It's an action-packed thrill ride that cannot be outdated no matter how old the film gets. Twenty one years later, it's still a great movie to watch.