Sunday, April 13, 2014
The Blind Spots I Didn't Know I Had: DIE HARD I & II
When I sat down one lazy weekend to watch Die Hard, which seems to play at least twice a week on AMC, I thought it was going to be a re-watch. Completely convinced that I had seen the film at least once, probably more, I began to experience a phenomenon that is fleeting to those of us who watch movies for a living: it was unrecognizable.
"Maybe I just missed the beginning when I was a kid..." I told myself. But when the film hit the 30 minute mark and I was still totally in the dark, I came to the stark realization that I hadn't, in fact, seen Die Hard. I only thought I had. I was fully convinced that I knew this film intimately, and yet I had inexplicably gone my entire life without ever watching a single moment of it.
Following what turned out to be my first viewing of the action classic, I immediately put on Die Hard II, and I realized I DEFINITELY hadn't seen that one, either.
I gotta say, it was kind of a nice surprise.
In a way, I had seen them. Die Hard I & II are the holy grail of action movies. They are both spectacularly violent and devilishly self-aware. John MacLane (Bruce Willis) is the sarcastic, unkillable hero that cannot be paralleled by anyone before or after him. Even the contemporary John MacLane can't hold a candle to the MacLane we see in the first two films.
They also act as a monument to the state of America in late 80s and early 90s. The films labour under the pretence that MacLane is fighting against a variety of terrorist threats where he just happens to be in the right place at the right time. In reality, it feels more like one talented cop fighting against the gross negligence of American Law Enforcement agencies with a variety of African American sidekicks.
Moreover, these films couldn't exist today, if only because the things that happen in these films often seem like uncanny predictions of what was to befall America 10 years later on September 11th. Exploding skyscrapers, hijacked planes being flown into the ground, Law Enforcement powerless against foreign enemies technical prowess and careful planning... these things felt like fantasy in '88 and '90. Now, it's all too real. It's nice to watch a film unsullied by these events; it almost feels innocent.
So, unexpectedly, Die Hard I & II were the newest additions to my apparently spotty film education, and the ever-constant meter stick from which all action movies are measured. Michael Bay WISHES he was this good.
For more of my Blind Spots, click here, and don't forget to check out Ryan McNeil's Blind Spot series that started it all at The Matinee!