40 Stories of sheer adventure indeed. On July 15th 1988 an action film exploded into theaters and, almost literally, blew the doors off all that had come before it, one that redefined what the word 'excitement' meant in terms of cinematic escapism, one that to this very day embodies and exemplifies what it's title implies moreso than any other...that film was Die Hard. Up until that date, action films were quickly running out of steam in terms of coming up with something fresh, it almost seemed as though we were out of ideas, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Shwarzenegger and Chuck Norris had by that time cornered the market on cinematic mayhem but as great as they were they didn't really bring anything new to the table, the action was great but storylines were often thin, only getting exciting when the bullets and explosions began. That was until director John Mctiernan and producers Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver turned Roderick Thorp's action novel Nothing Lasts Forever into the screenplay for Die Hard, a new breed of action film that would display all of the aformentioned bullets and explosions but would up the ante considerably for suspense, danger, drama and high stakes risk taking on the part of the films hero. This film to me is one of what I call Mctiernan's 'lethal three' which also includes Predator and The Hunt for Red October...the man was on a role during this period, a period which abruptly ended with the release of Medicine Man. Never before had there been an action film that would be as large, as daring and as tear-your-balls-off hard hitting as this one would turn out to be and the results were, in a word, THRILLING! One of the many things that set Die Hard apart from all others was the casting of Bruce Willis as Detective John McClane, in addition to the fresh direction this character went, ie a regular joe who is thrust into a dangerous situation that he wants no part of as he slips away from the terrorist round-up and spends the rest of the night making things very difficult for these Yule Tide bandits, he simply didn't look like any other hero who came before him, he wasn't particularly mucsle-bound but had the swagger and physique of an ordinary guy you would see anywhere. Willis, whom at that time was known mainly for his role as David Addison in the popular show Moonlighting, brought a sly, smart-assed sense of humor to his character, he was flawed, vulnerable and knew that the odds were against him but hung in there to both keep himself alive and to save his wife and he used his poilce training to do what he had to do to stay alive from hiding in air vents, elevator shafts, running through broken glass in his bare feet or leaping from the roof of a 40 story building all the while keeping his "What the hell am I doing!?" sense of humor about him. His nemesis, Hans Gruber as played by Royal Shakespearian Company actor Alan Rickman was a truly suave villain, one who thought that he had all of his bases covered when he and his team of heavily armed thieves including Karl, his right hand man and the more vicious of Han's men, crashed the party at the Nakatomi building on Christmas eve in an effort to make off with the contents of the buildings vault...this would be a night no one would ever forget. One of the things i've always loved about this film and still do to this day is the production design, no matter where in the building we were, everythng looked and felt very real, from the half-completed floors, elevator shafts lobby and of course the rooftop which would see much of the films most exciting action scenes, and of course I cannot leave out the Fox Plaza Office buidling which served as the exterior and is what gave the building a personality all it's own. The cinematography which was the brilliant work of Jan DeBont who would later go on to add some much needed kineticism to the action genre with his genre defining Speed was just the thing that this film needed to give it it's polished and steely look. As a big fan of the anamorphic process the use of Panavision is every bit an important part of this film as the characters themselves were, with it's soft focus and bold lens flares it gave the film a large scale cinematic look that just isn't offered with other shooting processes IMO. Another element that I appreciate about the film is it's quieter moments, in particular the moments between McClane and Al, played by Family Matters star Reginald Veljohnson, a fellow cop on the ground with whom McClane forms a reassuring bond with over CB communications, it's this bond that gives Die Hard it's emotional anchor and really gets across the notion that these men are real, they aren't comic book superheroes who can't be hurt or killed. Al is supported by a cast of on the ground supporting characters that lend a sense of fun to the proceedings including the irreplacable performance of the late Paul Gleason as police chief Dwayn Robinson who added some much needed comic relief when the action began to heat up, which was often needless to say. I cannot submit this thread without acknowledging the amazing model and miniature work by Richard Edlund and his talented group of craftsmen at Boss Film Studios who really brought the house down with their work here, they really bring home the illusion that this building is slowly being blown to bits from McClane dropping a C-4 rigged chair down an elevator shaft blowing out an entire floor to the ever dramatic detonation and destruction of the Nakatomi's rooftop during the films breathless climax, Die Hard wouldn't have hit as hard without him and his team. Yet another element that one must mention is the score by the late Michael Kamen, both original and bold he bought a heart to the film and I was sad when we lost him but the film stands as a testiment to his brilliance as a composer, just an invaluable element to this great film. I hope I haven't put anyone to sleep with my lengthy ramblings but as we approach the opening of it's third sequel Live Free or Die Hard I felt compelled to take a moment and observe this great film we call Die Hard, whether one watches it on Christmas eve or just any old time of the year we can be assured that when the lights go down in our home theaters the roof will come off as we witness one of the greatest action spectacles ever produced...Die Hard. There was never one like it before it and there has never been one quite like it since, so throw it in, crank it up, sing a verse or two from 'Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!' and YIPPIE KAI YAY MOTHER FUCKER!