I’m going to start this review by getting that controversial issue off my chest – Die Hard is not a Christmas film. Set at Christmas, yes, but that don’t make it a Christmas film. There, I’ve said it. The new 4K Ultra HD works amazingly well for a film so old. At last we can see John McClane running through crystal clear shards of glass cutting up his little pinkies and as for those L.A. sunsets and golden glows – wow. On its release it became the ultimate action film and made an instant action star out of Bruce Willis, usurping the place held by Arnie and Stallone throughout the decade as the premier action stars. Christmas film or not, it is one that can be watched over and over again and still thrill and entertain.
It almost doesn’t need to be said that Willis plays John McClane, an East Coast rugged macho cop with a fear of flying who arrives in L.A. to see his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). It is the eve of the office Christmas party and there is tension between the couple. Holly has just been promoted at the Nakatomi Corporation and the company are throwing a lavish office party on the 32nd floor of the company’s new office block on Nakatomi Plaza (actually filmed on Fox Plaza at 2121 Avenue of the Stars) where they are the only people in the building except the receptionist (not even security!). Holly introduces John to colleagues but there is clearly a frosty reception. Holly joins the party and while John is getting changed and freshening up in his vest and no shoes when he hears gunshots. He sees the party guests are being coralled by a band of euro terrorists led by the moustache twirling villainous leader of the group, Hans Gruber (Bruce Willis). Why was it in the 1980s the villains and terrorists who always either British or German or both? These guys are intent on global domination (and a bit of theft) and are not afraid to kill a few people in the process. They didn’t figure on McClane who goes on a shoeless on-man assault against the terrorists.
Classic stuff. Forgiving a couple of pointless support characters the film can’t be faulted, even its length at 132 minutes. On its release, the film was met with an ambivalent response from critics but over the years has grown into a classic and on this new release it can be seen in a whole new light.
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, they have gone all out on this 30th anniversary edition of one of the great 1980s action films. As well as this 4K Ultra HD release, the studio release have also released a steelbook Blu-ray release including all 5 of the films – a worthy purchase for fans with plenty of deleted scenes included. The extras on the 4K release are limited though but does have the benefit of commentary by director John McTiernan and production designer, Jackson DeGovia, as well as scene specific commentaries by Special-Effects Supervisor, Richard Edlund.