Die Hard Question

Discussion in 'Movies' started by WillG, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I was watching Die Hard yesterday and I was reminded of the one scene that has always bothered me about the film because for whatever reason, I just could never understand it. Why is it that when Hans sees Richard Thonrberg interviewing the McLaine kids on TV, he figures out the connection between John and Holly and immediately lifts the picture up in the office to confirm it?
     
  2. TerryRL

    TerryRL Producer

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    I'd always thought that it was Holly's reaction to the interview that clued Hans in. He saw the child, then saw Holly's reaction and essentially put two and two together. That's how I always saw it anyway.
     
  3. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Well, even if he saw Holly's reaction. That still doesn't say why he would have thought that John was her husband. I had thought that he figured the reason they were interviewing the kids was because they were John McLaine's, but it's not really clear.
     
  4. Rajj Nair

    Rajj Nair Stunt Coordinator

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    Well here my take on it: When Thornberg is interviewing the kids, he says something like "well since your parents are such important people" or something, I always thought it was the "parents" bit that give Hans the clue alongwith Holly's expression. That led him to look at the upturned photo frame and deduce the relationship between John n Holly.
     
  5. TerryRL

    TerryRL Producer

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    No, it's not made really clear. In the end, I doubt that it was even made clear in the script because the writer(s) had to figure out a way to put Holly in more danger than she already was. I think we're left with the director assuming that Hans figured all this out by Holly's reaction to the interview. I know it's thin, but most big Hollywood action movies have more than their fair share of plot holes.
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    There's an earlier scene that leads to this, when Holly first comes to see Hans (asking for a sofa for her pregnant secretary, etc.). After Holly and Hans conclude their exchange, Holly hesitates because she's staring at the turned-down photograph (there's a cut to a close-up of it to confirm that's what she's looking at). Hans notices her hesitation and asks her, "Anything else?" After she says no, he turns his head, trying to figure out what she was looking at. But he doesn't spend much time on it, because he has more immediate concerns (like the detonators).

    Then Holly makes a mistake. Hans asks her name, and she stresses that she's "Miss" Gennaro. Later, Hans refers to her that way ("Time to gather your flock, Miss Gennaro") just before he hears the Thornberg interview and sees her reaction. It's the reaction of a mother, not a "Miss". So Hans wheels around with renewed interest in whatever Holly was staring at before and finally focuses on the turned-down frame. It's only when he lifts the picture that he realizes who she is.

    I've always found it very clear and certainly not a plot hole.

    M.
     
  7. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Thanks for the explanation. I do remember that scene were she says "Gennaro..... Ms Gennaro" It makes more sense now, but it is pretty subtle nonetheless.
     
  8. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    Michael: Exactly.

    The original "Die Hard" is a lot tighter than most action movies in the storytelling dept. Logic gaps? Sure there are some. But the characters (especially Hans) are extremely well drawn for an action flick. If every action film were this good, the world would be a much happier place.

    Now for crap, see "Die Hard 2" [​IMG]

    -Dennis
     
  9. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I've always had a clear idea of what was happening as well. Michael explains it well. I would add that Thornberg asks, specifically, "Is there something you'd like to say to your mommy AND DADDY?" To which she replies, "Come home." Put that together with the fact that MISS Generro has not been with her husband during the evening, and Hans realizes there is only one other man in the building - McClane.

    I've always had a problem figuring out how McClane figures out that Hans is Hans when they're hanging out together. The director hints that McClane figures out he's lying when he looks at the building directory and sees the name that Hans uses (Bill something or other). How does this work? He asks Hans his name, he replies, the name is on the directory - so, he's real, right? What is it that John figures out?
     
  10. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    What I think is that, McLaine asks the name, Hans replies "Clay, Bill Clay" he looks over and sees the name Clay, WM on the board, he figures that he may have just plucked the name from that board, but can't be sure because as far as he's concened, maybe it was the real guy who got out. He probably really didn't know for sure until Hans turned the gun on him. Then he spoke something in German and then dropped the phony accent and now he knows it's Hans. Of course, McLaine was smart enough not to give Hans an actual loaded weapon.

    Also, you might say that McLaine just knew that it was pretty unlikely that someone else got out and figures he is one of the bad guys. He may not have even been fooled by the phony accent and figured that it was Hans. Hans did not look like any of the other terrorists, for example, he was wearing a nice suit while all the others were wearing street clothes, so he figures that it's Hans, the leader. Also, don't forget that McLaine was eavsdropping on the interrogation and excution of Takagi, so he may have caught a glimpse of Hans at that point as well.
     
  11. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "Now for crap, see 'Die Hard 2'"

    THANK YOU. I loved Die Hard, I hated Die Hard 2. Die Hard works for every reason Die Hard 2 did not. Die Hard was so good because it was grounded in shreds of plausibility (McClain's spider man act in the elevator shaft notwithstanding). It had flawed moments of characterization, like the Paul Gleason character who refuses to believe his own eyes beyond all logic (you want a plot hole, I give you Paul Gleason - "Maybe it was a stock broker who got depressed!"). But it's strenth was what Goldman referred to as plausibility, not believability. Within the context of that character, the action scenes work. The context was provided by the humanity of the central "action hero" character, who was a believable human being, not an invulnerable macho man like Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Bruce Willis was letter-perfect in the role, and the rest of the movie works because he is drawn and acted so well.

    Die Hard 2: Die Harder (the very name sounds like a joke) was a creaking example of sequelitis, a film FULL of Paul Gleason characters and absolutely ludicrous action-hero moments, and I was baffled by the acclaim Roger Ebert and others heaped upon it.

    You know, if film schools were honest, Die Hard would be recognized as a seminal American film. What do you study in your film history classes? Films that started a trend, or films that influenced scores of movies that followed. Die Hard has got to be one of the most imitated studio movies of the last 20 years, with scores upon scores of movies that copied it...everything from Under Siege to Speed to Passenger 57 to Cliffhanger and on and on it goes.
     
  12. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I agree, Ernest.

    I think you're right, Will. He's just smart enough NOT to give Hans a loaded weapon. But, the obvious cut away to the WM Clay on the board baffles me. As if there is a clue there.
     
  13. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I have to disagree on the dissenting opinion of Die Hard 2. It is correct that the premise of the film is flawed. Of course the biggest fault is that when Fred Thompson had 2 minutes to talk to the planes in their holding pattern, all he had to do was "We have been shut down by a terrorist element, please divert to the closest available airport, Problem Solved! As for the Paul Gleason characters, the only one I really saw was Dennis Franz's character, but unlike Paul Gleason, Franz eventually comes around. Fred Thompson seems a bit more willing to listen to McLaine, so he does not come off too bad. John Amos is stand-offish but that would stand to reason as he was in on the whole plot and does not want any interference.

    However, we do get it where it counts. There are some very good action sequences, great effects (including a disturbingly genuine looking jet crash). In spite of some characters being Paul Gleeson figures, I felt most of the performances were good. The cast has some very talented performers. And of course the likeability of John McLaine is right out there as well. So I'm willing to forgive the holes in the premise and watch the film for what it is. An exciting, technically proficient, and mostly well acted, action film. I think that is what Ebert and other critics were trying to say in their good reviews.



    Well these movies have always painted McLaine as having a sharp eye and sharp instincts. So, it think it is a little be more that McLaine being "just smart enough" not to give him a loaded weapon. Like I said, he probably finds it unlikely that another person was able to get out. Hans says his name is "Bill Clay" and the cutaway shows that McLaine sees the board with the Clay, WM. Coincidence? perhaps but McLaine sees it as a red flag, so it is a clue to him in that sense.
     
  14. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    No, it's just to explain how Hans is covering his tracks. It's just a cut to his POV, nothing more, nothing less.
     
  15. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

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    I completely ignore Die Hard 2 and act as if Die Hard with a Vengeance is the REAL sequel to the first movie. It seems to fit a little better to me.

    If you ignore Die Hard 2 and skip to Vengeance, We go from the happy ending of Die Hard straight to McClane--completely worked over. He's a drunk bum and he and Holly are so estranged AGAIN that he hasn't seen her in who knows how long. It's not a christmas movie, he's in New York, and the idea of Hans' brother being in on the thing makes a little more sense to me than the raw coincidence of McClane just HAPPENING to be flying out of somewhere with his wife on Christmas as terrorists JUST happen to hijack it, and he JUST HAPPENS to have a tubby, sympathetic flatfoot on the ground trying to help him in the end.(although to be fair, they at least tried to switch it up by making Franz character a combination of Vel Johnson's and Gleasons from the 1st movie) It doesn't seem to flow from the first movie as much as poorly ape it.

    Die Hard with a Vengeance may have it's fair share of big flaws (big plot holes, less than believable action) and those might stem from the fact it was originally the script to Lethal Weapon 4 before it was overhauled--but I think it fits as a sequel to Die Hard a whole hell of a lot better than Die Hard 2 does.

    I own the first and the third. Die Hard 2 never existed as far as I'm concerned.
     
  16. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "An exciting, technically proficient, and mostly well acted, action film. I think that is what Ebert and other critics were trying to say in their good reviews."

    And yet Ebert trashed Die Hard for the Paul Gleason character:

    On a technical level, there's a lot to be said for "Die Hard." It's when we get to some of the unnecessary adornments of the script that the movie shoots itself in the foot. Willis remains in constant radio contact with a police officer on the ground (Reginald Veljohnson) who tries to keep his morale up. But then the filmmakers introduce a gratuitous and unnecessary additional character: the deputy police chief (Paul Gleason), who doubts that the guy on the other end of the radio is really a New York cop at all.

    As nearly as I can tell, the deputy chief is in the movie for only one purpose: to be consistently wrong at every step of the way and to provide a phony counterpoint to Willis' progress. The character is so willfully useless, so dumb, so much a product of the Idiot Plot Syndrome, that all by himself he successfully undermines the last half of the movie. Thrillers like this need to be well-oiled machines, with not a single wasted moment. Inappropriate and wrongheaded interruptions reveal the fragile nature of the plot and prevent it from working.

    Without the deputy chief and all that he represents, "Die Hard" would have been a more than passable thriller. With him, it's a mess, and that's a shame, because the film does contain superior special effects, impressive stunt work and good performances, especially by Rickman as the terrorist. Here's a suggestion for thrillermakers: You can't go wrong if all of the characters in your movie are at least as intelligent as most of the characters in your audience.


    Someone try and reconcile this with the eventual movie that became Die Hard 2: Die Harder.

    Willis, who has a cop's practiced eye, spots one of the conspirators, follows him into a luggage-handling area and discovers that a plot is afoot. But he can't convince the chief of airport security (Dennis Franz), who resents an outside cop on his turf. After a killing and various other hints (including a plane crash), the security chief finally admits he may have a problem on his hands. But even then Willis' work is not over, and by the end of the movie he is single-handedly taking on whole planeloads of mercenaries in a fight to the finish.

    Because "Die Hard 2" is so skillfully constructed and well-directed, it develops a momentum that carries it past several credibility gaps that might have capsized a lesser film.


    Um....errr....

    For example, how about the scene where the tower informs the circling airplanes that they'll be out of radio contact for a couple of hours, and the jets should just keep circling? Why can't those planes simply establish radio contact with other ground transmitters, and be diverted to alternate airports? Because then Willis' wife (Bonnie Bedelia) wouldn't be up there in the sky and in mortal danger, that's why.

    Um...errr....

    A more serious problem involves the whole rescue operation itself. When Manuel Noriega was taken captive and returned to the United States to stand trial, there was little serious effort to save him: At the end, he was a refugee in his own country, reduced to seeking asylum in the residence of a Vatican diplomat. Would anyone have the means, the money and the will to mount such a vast and complicated terrorist operation simply to save one drug-connected dictator? Even if he does bear an uncanny resemblance to Fidel Castro? I doubt it.

    But on the other hand, I don't care. "Die Hard 2" is as unlikely as the Bond pictures, and as much fun. And during a summer when violence and mayhem are allowed to substitute for imagination and good writing, this is an especially well-crafted picture. It tells a story we can identify with, it has a lot of interesting supporting characters, it handles the action sequences with calm precision, and it has a couple of scenes that are worth writing home about.


    Um...errr...
     
  17. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "I own the first and the third. Die Hard 2 never existed as far as I'm concerned."

    Ditto. Sympatico. Once again, I'm in complete agreement with Mr. Robert Anthony.
     
  18. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    That is hilarious, Ernest! I never knew Ebert gave Die Hard a bad review. Maybe he was making up for his mistake with the second review!

    For the record, I barely count Paul Gleason as a character in Die Hard! He just makes for great punchlines. "Jesus Christ, he could be a fucking bartender for all we know!"
     
  19. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

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    Yeah, I tend to think the Gleason and Atherton characters are more punchlines than actual characters. Ebert seemed to be taking the Gleason character a tad too serious at that point, but pretty early on, I figured this character was here for blatant comic relief.

    "Man. We're gonna need more FBI guys"

    "I didn't just get BUTTFUCKED on live TV, DWAYNE!"

    Realistic? No. But it doesn't nullify the tone of the movie, for me. Hell, he's not even the most false character--Argyle annoys the crap out of me, especially near the end. And Reginald Vel Johnsons' busting a shot into the big-should-be-dead-guy at the end is probably the single biggest false note of the ENTIRE Die Hard series. But at least the Gleason character gets derided for his one-sided portrayal WITHIN the movie. I would think the fact that the other characters aren't taking him seriously would be a clue for the audience (and Ebert) to not take the character seriously, either.
     
  20. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    Ebert's a fine critic, but his thinking is often muddled and his writing so mediocre that he often utterly fails to account for why some films work for him and some don't. Many of his reviews are unenlightening, full of the usual critic cliches with no real insights. A good example of his deficiencies are how much of his AOTC review contradicts his TPM review; dialogue wasn't important in TPM, but it is in AOTC? When readers called him on it, he did a pitiful side-step where he said if he was concerned about being consistent, it would harm his honesty and integrity as a reviewer. If he came up with a better rationale for his views, he wouldn't have been questioned (that much of the review harped on Lucas' use of digital video suggest that he possibly had an axe to grind). The aforementioned flip-flop on the Die Hard films is another example of this.
     

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