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Brad Bird: Why the OG 'Die Hard' Still Rules

02.21.2013

A little part of us dies inside when a DIE HARD movie is not successful. This is the case with A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. But what made it fail? Depends on who you are talking to. Terrible villains, over the top action, embarrassing CGI, bad script, and boring are a few of the examples I've overheard. However, let's not focus on that. Remember the feeling you got when you saw the original DIE HARD? What a lovely gift to the world of cinema.

Director Brad Bird wrote a small article in Rolling Stone on why the first installment is still awesome. I think he hits the nail right on the head. As if I needed a reason to love him more.

This is what he had to say:

Hands down, the original Die Hard is one of the greatest action movies ever made – it's relentlessly inventive, engaging and funny at the same time.

Bruce Willis' John McClane is in the tradition of Sean Connery as James Bond and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones – a hero who shows fear. He's a guy who is continually petrified by what's happening to him, but that doesn't keep him from pushing through it. And instead of making the hero smaller for the audience, it makes him larger – because we recognize the fear. Alan Rickman was a fantastic villain, too.

John McTiernan's direction is an amazing piece of intricate craftsmanship. What a lot of filmmakers have trouble communicating is a sense of geography. For instance, one floor of a building under construction looks a lot like any other floor. But McTiernan put in little things, like a Playboy centerfold hung up by a construction worker. At first it seems like a visual joke, but it's really there to identify that floor, so when Willis encounters it again, the audience knows exactly where he is. Many directors also shoot action very sloppily – they shoot up close and cut around a lot and put in all these big noises to distract you. But in Die Hard, you know where every character is every second of the movie. Things are going by at a fast clip, but you're never lost.

Most action movies have great sequences, but they aren't great movies. Die Hard starts great and just stays at that level from beginning to end.
Source: Rolling Stone

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