Die Hard (1988)

Most movie fans will agree on one thing, and that’s how “Die Hard” is just about the perfect action movie: It’s got a reliable, charismatic Bruce Willis in the lead role, kicking everybody’s teeth in every step of the way but never coming off as anything less than honorable. It’s got the great Alan Rickman in a priceless, legendary performance as Hans Gruber, delighting in every syllable of dialogue like a smirking snake with great fashion style. It’s got terrific supporting players, from Bonnie Bedelia to Reginald VelJohnson and a pitch-perfect William Atherton, among many standouts. It’s got an entertaining pace and a consistently elevated level of tension, not to mention a number of surprising plot points and economically deployed action set pieces that rock the audience every so often. Director John McTiernan has a great grasp of mainstream conventions and how to play along while subtly subverting them, keeping the audience on its feet and cheering for its many heroes. There’s just nothing like “Die Hard.”

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)

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