Rusty Solomon

Rusty Solomon Reviews Die Hard

Nearly a quarter century later, two words still define the modern action film: Die Hard. The film serves as a link between the over the top, comic book punch-bang-boom action films of the eighties and the intelligent adrenalin smashing films of today. According to Rusty Solomon, even the modern day Matrix, Fast and the Furious, Quentin Tarantino gore fests, and Donnie Yen kung Fu blowouts still cannot compare. JoinRusty Solomon for a look under the hood of one of the greatest man movies of all time.

The film is quiet for about ten minutes: John McLane, a blue collar New York cop (Bruce Willis, in a performance that singlehandedly made him a star), gets off a plane to Los Angeles to ambush his estranged wife Holly, played by Bonnie Bedelia, in a play to save their marriage. He goes to meet her at a Christmas work party at Nakatomi Tower.

Then the terrorists show up. A group of machine gun toting, well-dressed, European soldiers arrive, taking the whole group hostage and threatening just about every form of execution possible. Only John McLane, uncaught, resourceful, brutal and tenacious, stands in their way. Rusty Solomon says the rest of the film, even by today’s standards, remains a breathless, breakneck display of bullets, pyrotechnics, fistfights, bloodletting, and American action mayhem.

How exactly did Die Hard game-change cinematic action? It all boils down to great character writing. At the time, action movies were defined by unstoppable G.I. Joe types, often vehicles with Sylvester Stallone (queue Rambo theme) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who basically played Rambo in Commando). According to Rusty Solomon, audiences loved seeing ridiculous fights, impossible stunts, machine guns that never ran out of bullets and cars that exploded as soon as they hit the bottom of a ravine.

John McLane changed all that. Bruce Willis’s character is accessible, relatable, resourceful, and most importantly, breakable. In one of the best devices in action screenwriting history, McLane loses his shoes early on in the film, and has to go through most of the story barefoot. A gut-churning sequence involving a fight on broken glass gets the audience’s sympathy in ways Rambo, The Terminator, or Robocop never could. In addition, McLane is a man with accessible goals: he wants to save his marriage. Most eighties action films saw the goal, the human interest, as a sideline to a cold-blooded revenge plot or blast fest, says Rusty Solomon.

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