5. The Spirit of Friendship
As mentioned before, McClane is a loner. Apart from his hostility towards authority figures and those around him, McClane clearly is a man who prefers to work alone, a classic trope amongst actions heroes of the 1980’s and 1990’s. This time around, however, McClane cannot succeed alone.
Enter Sergeant Al Powell, a uniformed officer preparing for the birth of his first child. Called to Nakatomi Plaza, Powell almost becomes a victim when a terrorist body drops several floors right onto his Powell’s cruiser inviting a hail of gunfire. A nice early Christmas present for his new friend.
Despite having every reason to hate him, Powell invests in McClane’s success, standing up for him front of his superiors and the LAPD. Powell’s presence also stands as moral support. Even at McClane’s worst moments, when his identity has been uncovered, his foot has been cut open and the LAPD consider him worse than the terrorists, Powell is the only one supporting ‘Roy’.
In the end, their friendship also allows Powell to overcome his demons, drawing his weapon for the first time since his accidental shooting to protect McClane. Neither man could have achieved what they did without the other.
4. A constant reminder it is Christmas
Like all Christmas movie, Die Hard is like that one house in the street wrapped in flashing lights, garden ornaments and that fake Santa stuck in the chimney: we all know what time of year it is, but that is not going to stop them from reminding us every chance we get.
The film is layered in bad one-liners, puns and imagery, all to remind you of the joyous time of year…before watching a man’s head explode. The most famous is McClane’s decision to send down a dead terrorist in an elevator, wearing a Santa hat and the message, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, Ho, Ho”. A perfect mixture of Christmas spirit and Die Hard’s light hearted approach to death. “Merry Christmas” mutters Theo after breaking into the vault, the same man who began his hack with, “Twas the night before Christmas…”
Even when McClane saves the day, Christmas themed tape is used to apply his sidearm to his back.
3. The power of faith
When you find yourself trapped in a city high rise, armed only with a single firearm against a gang of heavily armed ban robbers, faith can be a powerful tool. Pushed against the wall, McClane constantly finds himself in life and death scenarios. Jumping between air ducts over a long airshaft, using a fire hose to swing off the roof or just avoiding a hail of gunfire is all part of job for McClane. However, it not so much faith as it is blind luck, stubbornness and resourcefulness.
However, for those around him, faith in John McClane quickly starts to pay off. Faced with the hostage crisis, slick businessman Ellis decides to play hero and intervene, effectively selling McClane out. Despite Holly McClane’s defence of her husband, telling him that it is his job to help them, “Bullshit, his job is 3000 miles away!” Ellis scoffs.
Holly has faith in her husband, Ellis in himself, “Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I think I can handle this Eurotrash”. Ellis’ intervention and lack of faith ultimately costs him his life, unable to talk himself out of Gruber’s vengeance.
The same can be said for the police. Despite the warnings from McClane that storming the building will result in failure, they push on, ultimately finding themselves being bombarded. Only McClane’s intervention puts a halt to the massacre with his improvised bomb blowing up half the building. Holly’s faith, however, is rewarded when she trusts her husband, avoiding Hans’ wrath.
2. The soundtrack
Just in case the one-liners and Christmas ornaments were not enough, get ready for death by Christmas carols (if the bullets do not hit you first).
Alongside its use of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Die Hard uses several famous Christmas jingles including Winter Wonderland and Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! The latter even has a macabre introduction with Sergeant Powell singing the song to himself as he prepares to drive away from Nakatomi Plaza…just as a dead terrorist drops through his windshield.
Die Hard even has a few contemporary Christmas jingles thanks to limo driver Argyle cruising through Nakatomi’s parking lot playing Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC. Remember that house with the Christmas lights and the fake Santa in the roof? Well, it just became that house playing jingles on loop.
1. It even starts to snow
Like every Christmas movie, fresh snow needs to fall. Die Hard has you covered. With the hostage crisis averted and a resurrected Karl gunned down by Powell, McClane finally embraces Holly just as the city is hit with a fresh layer of snow. Christmas is about to start.
But isn’t the film set in Los Angeles?
Okay, so it is not snow but burning debris and ash since Los Angeles does not have snow but our characters need a merry Christmas so, just for good measure, our heroes find themselves layered in ash, a truly Die Hard twist on the Christmas spirit.