Nakatomi Plaza – Live Free And Dream Hard?


Welcome to the party, pal!” Yes, on this date, July 15 1988, action movies changed forever. Move over Arnie and Sly, Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis, in his big screen breakout role) is an accidental hero, the proverbial “fly in the ointment, the pain in the ass.” In L.A to visit his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) a high flying exec at the Nakatomi Plaza headquarters of a Japanese Corporation, it’s up to him to save the day from slick euro-terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his cohorts.

Willis, before the series descended into kid friendly “thrills” and ludicrous walks away from mega destruction, summed up the character of McClane in six sentences:

“He doesn’t give a shit about being a hero. As soon as you start thinking you’re a hero, you’re done, you’re dead – it’s an afterthought, when someone might say, “That was a pretty heroic thing you did.” McClane loves his family, loves his country. He has a healthy disrespect for all authority. He’s got a very dark gallows sense of humour – and he has zero tolerance for allowing anyone to hurt an innocent person. He will always step between that threat and the person.”

Ian Rankin, crime novelist and creator of dour Edinburgh ‘tec John Rebus, is a big fan. He told The observer,

I love the first Die Hard film – you could even say I love it with a vengeance. It is high-concept, high-octane, witty, well acted, sharply directed and remains Bruce Willis’ finest moment. Even though I can recite whole scenes and have seen it a dozen times, whenever it comes on TV, I can’t drag myself away.”

 But what if you remove the threat to McClane? In Nakatomi Plaza, Wolf Petersen strips away our hero’s interactions with the other characters in the film, having him basically running around  an empty building, getting more grubby, bloody and scared. This de-contextualisation is a fascinating exercise – as Petersen states in his notes,

NAKATOMI PLAZA is a reorganization of selected shots from the 1988 film Die Hard. The Protagonist, John McClane, runs around Nakatomi Plaza getting dirty and bloody but finds no enemies: they have been removed. As the scenery is repeated and John’s situation does not change, he is stuck in this building, scared out of his mind, looking around for someone to shoot. The breaking of continuity in the color of his shirt and selection of guns breaks the linear narrative and open interpretation to what is happening. Is he in a videogame? A dream? Nightmare? Is he simply insane?”

The novel Die Hard was based on, by Roderick Thorp, was called Nothing Lasts Forever. I have a feeling that as long as the film creates fan tributes like the one above, Die Hard will. Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mutherfucker!



Originally posted 2013-07-15 19:47:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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