Action films, there really are nothing that can beat it for pure unadulterated mindless entertainment, particularly in the form of guilty filmic pleasures. But when you think of the classics of the genre there is always the faint whiff of synthesiser music ringing within your (or most cinephiles) subconscious….Ahhh the 80’s . Then there are the utter genre defining classics you know the ones which really defined a young film fans childhood experiences. These guys are the ones who where often shown films by their father when they are too young, and one such classic which is always on the tongues of film fans (as it is often considered the best of the action genre) is Die Hard.
I remember seeing this (along with several other Seagal films) with my dear old dad at a very young age, call it an amazing piece of parenting but I actually found a film I could bond with my father on. And believe it or not I have recently stumbled onto many other guys my age who remember bonding with their fathers over John Mc’clanes one man army against German terrorists. This is utterly a father and son bonding film as crazy as it sounds and now even more so personally, an important piece of filmmaking within my love of the medium and love of action films (thanks dad!).
But what makes this more prevalent today then when I was younger, well considering my tastes have broadened within film and culturally Die Hard is still an amazing film and by being something I can share with my father while being close to my heart. As soppy and pussyfied as it sounds having the ability to share this with him while downing several cold beers, noshing down on some take-away and uttering nearly every single line ahead of time. This becomes something of a sentimental viewing experience, because not only are you watching the film with your father but finding elements to bond with. Personally my father and I are not massive football fans but we know that if either of us have an issue or problem and have to sort it out a man way, on goes a copy of Die Hard as we drink and laugh forgetting all our worries.
It is as though we have an old friend in the room helping us, comforting us, allowing us to relate to the everyman in an action film, it is always a welcoming and returning friend in times of crisis or boredom. It is also not hard to bond over other elements of Die Hard’s insanity, for instance it does not matter how old or nice you are but the moment you hear Ellis over the walkie talkie it becomes hard to feel sorry for such a bottom feeder while at the same time also produces a perverse tittering laugh between me and my old man when he bites the big one.
It also contains what every fantastic piece of action cinema must have, MASSIVE FUCKING EXPLOSIONS!!! LOUD GUN FIRE!!! (and I don’t care how un-clever it is) BIG FUCKING SWEAR WORDS!!!. Yes the women have the charm of Brucie in his decreasing lack of clothes. But us men / fathers/ sons have a dirty vest which symbolises the down and dirty nature of a lone gun man on his own, bare footed and pissed off. On top of which the fantastic atmospheric by the late great Michael Kamen is a classic, you mention to any male aged between 20-50 and the first thing that pops in their head is likely to be those first few notes….dun dun dun…dundun!!
And the final bonding moment has to be the last two bullets John uses to despatch Hans and his henchman (good name for a band that) in his battered and bloodied state, on his last legs, it is a proper “punch a fist in the air” moment of utter brilliance. It is a film that no matter how old either me or my father become, we are still completely invested within the characters, the situation, the action and the score. This is not just cinematic action gold it is a film experience which bonds fathers and sons on an almost unique level of equality. Differences are put aside, disputes are settled , time passes and beers are drunk, without Die Hard being viewed at an early age, I know film would not be nearly as meaningful or as ingrained into my psyche as it is today.
For that I have more then John Mc Clane to thank, I also have my dads obsession with explosions, bloody gun shots, inventive swear words and over the years a fantastic sound system, to once again feel like we are both experiencing Die Hard for the first time again. So to my dad , thank you for this the ultimate film gift to his son, a film that like many others, holds such a special place between two generations and will continue to for years to come. I shall leave it to Bruce to give his final words….come on!! Join in!!