Alan Rickman & The Greatest Action Film of All-Time!

Film legend Alan Rickman tragically died today at the age of 69. The iconic British thespian lost his long fight to cancer and his passing leaves a terrible void in the film world. I wanted to celebrate the life of Alan Rickman by paying tribute to my favorite performance by the actor, Hans Gruber! Hans Gruber is easily one of the greatest cinematic villains ever! This piece originally appeared in our “Nostalgia Issue.” 

What does it take to make an epic action movie? A vulnerable hero you can identify with? Superbly staged action sequences? A fantastically menacing villain? the stndrd magazine believes it takes all those ingredients to make an action movie something truly epic. We also believe that one thrill ride of a flick pulls those components together in a way no other film can top. Die Hard is the greatest action film of all-time!

When action films are done right they can be tremendously fun pieces of entertainment. When they are done wrong they can be insulting pieces of muck. Most adrenaline fueled movies far victim to the latter. A lot of times Hollywood is far too dependent on the car chases and shootouts to worry about little bits of minutia like story and character. There are times when Hollywood gets action right and 1988’s Die Hard proves it.

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Die Hard features a lot of fine performances but you can argue that Alan Rickman’s portrayal of dastardly Hans Gruber is the centerpiece. What makes Gruber such a perfect villain is he isn’t overly complicated. There is a recent trend in big budget spectacles to make every rogue character have an elaborate origin. Gruber is after a lot of capital and he will do anything to get it. That is all we really know about him and it works brilliantly. Rickman’s amazing effort as Hans Gruber allows the character to be one of the all-time great villains.

Violence for the sake of violence can become boring if there isn’t any personal stakes involved for the characters. The Die Hard action scenes are done with precision and skill but most importantly we care about the people involved. A lot of credit goes to director John McTiernan for allowing Die Hard to open without an elaborate clash. The first part of the film develops the characters and allows the audience to invest in the story before we are thrust into the rollercoaster ride of explosions and gunfire that waits. That patience and use of restraint really pays off as the story unfolds.

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I have rambled on a very long time without even mentioning the name Bruce Willis. How can you talk about Die Hard and not mention him? We saved the best for last and it goes without saying that Bruce’s cop character John McClane is the heart and soul of Die Hard. McClane is portrayed masterfully by Willis as an ordinary cop in a bad spot. McClane is thrown every obstacle imaginable in the film and he handles it with a pathos that is quite unique. You get the impression that McClane wants no part of the situation he is in. If he had a choice he would not be playing the part of superman. Bruce Willis uses tremendous bravado and comedy to make John McClane an action film icon.

You can definitely debate the quality of the Die Hard sequels. With each follow-up the premise of an every man cop against impossible odds becomes less believable. Die Hard has been the victim of an unreal amount of copycat projects since it was released. That saturation of the plot has hurt the freshness of the brand. You can also argue that Willis has become an action giant since Die Hard and his numerous heroic roles have hurt the originality of John McClane. He becomes more super human in each declining in quality new chapter. Regardless of what the future holds for the franchise we can’t imagine anything could ever tarnish the brilliance of that 1988 classic that proves great films Die Hard!

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