Double Feature

September 2022 - Health problems have brought down the curtain on the career of Bruce Willis. But, man, he had a great one, didn't he? I loved him in the TV show Moonlighting. And, all those movies! Especially the Die Hard franchise. I recently happened across two of those films and gave them a look.

The original Die Hard movie came out in 1988, while Willis was still in the midst of his Moonlighting run. In the film, he plays John McClane, a detective with the NYPD. He arrives in LA on Christmas Eve, hoping to reconnect with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedilia). She's gone to work for a Japanese company that's still putting the finishing touches on Nakatomi Plaza, its corporate offices in Los Angeles.

McClane arrives at the plaza and meets Holly at the company Christmas party. While he's freshening up in Holly's office, some uninvited guests arrive in the form of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his band of not so merry men. They claim to be terrorists, but what they really want are the bearer bonds stashed in a super-secure vault. The Gruber gang takes everyone hostage – except McLane. He manages to slip away and spends the rest of the movie in his bare feet, taking out the grinches one by one.

Overall review: Loved it. Leaving aside the debate over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, there's really not much to dislike here. The film holds up pretty well from a technology standpoint, and Willis's smirk and trademark catchphrase deserve their classic status.

I followed up Die Hard with the third film in the series, Die Hard with a Vengeance. This one came out in 1995. It finds McClane back in New York and drunk as a skunk. He's without his wife and suspended from his job as a police lieutenant. The NYPD calls him back to duty when a man calling himself Simon (Jeremy Irons) says he'll blow up stuff all over the city unless McClane does what he says. Hey, at least McClane gets to wear shoes this time!

While McClane plays Simon Says, he gets help from a Harlem shopkeeper named Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson). Together, the two race around the city, following Simon's clues and trying to disarm one bomb after another. Eventually, McClane figures out what Simon really wants and who he really is. Can he and Zeus stop Simon in time? Let's just say … yippee ki yay.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. By which I mean, it's perfectly watchable. Willis and Jackson do well together and there's plenty of action. But, even their chemistry and the manic pace can't make up for the outlandish plot. At least this film leaves no room for debate in one area. It's most definitely not a Christmas movie.