It’s nearly Christmas! To celebrate, the writers of One Room With A View are going to present their arguments as to why their choice is the Ultimate Christmas Movie. We hope you enjoy the features and please let us know what you think below. Steve is up second with his choice: Die Hard 2.
“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”
With these words John McClane acknowledges a truth we hold to be self-evident – that Die Hard 2 is a sequel that knows its greatest strength lies in its predecessor. This argument isn’t one to suggest that Die Hard 2 is a better movie than Die Hard however, but that it’s a better Christmas movie. Nay, it’s the ultimate Christmas movie.
When we consider the yuletide season with rose-tinted nostalgia, cheeks and wine-based drinks, we tend to focus on the good: camaraderie, relaxation, what we receive. And yet when we’re knee-deep in the festivity frontline, it’s really all about indulgence, enforced togetherness and what we give.
Die Hard 2 recognises this and plays up to it. So often overlooked in favour of its elder brother (or its snappier, Sinbad-esque cousin Die Hard With a Vengeance) it is Die Hard 2 that plays to the reality of the season, via international terrorism.
We open on Detective John McClane having his car towed outside Washington Dulles International Airport where he’s waiting to pick up his wife. He’s pissed. He’s been staying with the in-laws and he’s in the midst of hundreds of people who are likely feeling the same way he does.
Already, director Renny Harlin has hit us with the triple whammy of last-minute preparation, compulsory sociability and the sacrifices we make for family. Plus there’s snow, so that’s another +1 for Christmas imagery.
From here we switch to footage of William Sadler doing some naked Tai-Chi. Admittedly this isn’t especially Christmas-like unless you’ve made the mistake of inviting weird Cousin Eric over again, but this here is the villain of the piece. Stuart, along with a dozen mercenaries, is ready to seize the airport and free Santa’s Latin-American non-union equivalent (and ousted despot) General Ramon Esperanza.
And we’re straight into it too. Somebody’s dead within ten minutes – at McClane’s hands – and in the next two hours we’re going to see two planes crash and another explode, a church go up in flames, Dennis Franz shout a lot, a snowmobile chase, an ejector seat, and John McClane do his thing.
It’s obvious why Die Hard 2 was given the tagline Die Harder. Everything is geared towards Christmas’ primary motivator: indulgence.
Where Die Hard was lean, mean, with a vest that changed from white to green. Die Hard 2 packs in the lean and the mean, along with the incredibly keen. Every little trimming is served up, even the non-traditional ones like cauliflower and cranberry-flavoured bourbon.
Why have one plane explode in a movie when you can have two? What’s the point of being surrounded by aircraft if you can’t use an ejector seat? When McClane needs to demonstrate that a cartridge is full of blanks he doesn’t use words, he fires it wildly and then use very loud words.
Die Hard 2 knows Christmas is about excess. You can feel bad about it in the morning, but for now why not submerse yourself in Mulled Gravy? It’s Christmas.
And yet to really nail down the festive season’s markers, Die Hard 2 still has other boxes to tick. Just as we sacrifice our bodies for that Christmas Eve shopping scramble, so too must John sacrifice his for his wife (and several hundred less important airline patrons). Just as we grudgingly sit through holiday photos of Lanzarote ’06 to spare our relative’s feelings, so too is John willing to awkwardly work together with frequent adversary Airport Police Captain Carmine Lorenzo.
John McClane is us. And to that end we know he’ll emerge victorious – not simply because of the execrable sequels foisted upon us, but because we too find a way to survive each year. John does it for family and for honour, we do it for the excuse to start drinking at eight in the morning.
Die Hard 2 may have been co-written by Quippy McQuip but it’s got a whole lotta heart and a whole lotta head – and as Lorenzo explains with the film’s penultimate line, “What the hell! it’s Christmas!”