Christmas movies are the best effort Hollywood makes to sell tickets and generate some income to cover for the artistic/political crap bombs they make the rest of the year. But they find themselves having to appeal to the interest of the movie-goers during this time and this tends to be Christmas and/or Christian values related, something they usually hate to cover.
Hollywood also knows that Action Movies assure more butts in the theater. “It Is A Wonderful Life” is cute and traditional, but Dirty Harry gives a fierce competition so, why not combine both? There was a very nice attempt back in 1948 with the movie “Three Godfathers” starring none other than The Duke himself, John Wayne in which three bad hombres rescue a baby from the lap of her dying mother and forget the riches they got from a bank robbery and overcome the challenges of a desert, fellow criminals and a chasing posse to take the baby to a secure location on Christmas Day. This is perhaps one of the top three John Wayne movies in my opinion.
But let us examine Die Hard. Why should it be considered the best Christmas movie? Well, for starters because it happens during Christmas, so the first check mark is cleared. It is also full of Christian references even if in a glancing form: We have John McClane a NY policeman being something of a Prodigal Husband trying to reconnect with his estranged wife as it is the Christian thing to do.
As soon as McClane and his wife are just starting to figure out how to begin to reconcile, the Devil and his minions make an appearance in the form of Hans Gruber and his collection of terrorists. And can Gruber be more devilish iconographic? How many depictions of the Evil One have we seen in which he is wearing a goatee like our Germanic Lucifer? Classic Christian imagery.
We find out soon enough that Hans Gruber is not, as initially thought, doing his terrorism out of misguided sense of “justice” but actually committing one of the seven Deadly Sins: Greed. He has no problem offing people to lay his grubby hands (see what I did there) on hundreds of millions of dollars. There is no redeeming value for his actions, no “but you have to understand” point of view, the sucker is 100% pure bad man.
Of course, the Evil Hans Gruber will be challenged by John McClane, it has to. Just like St. Michael challenged Beelzebub at the beginning of time and Jesus went toe to toe with the Devil in the desert, so will John McClane will thump the living crap out of the bad guys. But that does not mean it will be easy nor that he will have all things in his favor to do so. McClane is barefoot, wearing pants and an undershirt, half a pack of crappy European cigarettes and carrying a Beretta 92. Most rational people will not even consider getting out of bed with so little in the form of support,but if Job was challenged with many a trial and tribulation for his faith and Jonah had to take a cruise inside a whale, John McClane surely can get rid of a bunch of heavily armed eurotrash terrorists before they murder a whole bunch of innocents by using a 9mm and snarky comments.
You think I am stretching things? Wait, I am not even close to done. We get now to the part of the Ethereal Companion. We have seen in tales and movies Ghosts from Christmas (insert time here) or Angels that tell our heroes a story or shows them life without them, but can any of them be as cool as McClane’s twinkie-eating banner of trust and moral support also known as Sgt. Al Powell? And you will say “But Al Powell is a sidekick!” and I say Nay-Nay! Sidekick means he is by McClane’s side in physical form, not on his spiritual side as he does in the movie. And as a Good Angel, Powell buttresses McClane’s spirit when everything and everybody seems to be running against him. When he feels unappreciated, Powell tells him that many rank and file good guys are supporting him even when the honchos who “know better” want him out of the picture or do not care for him (Can you say Pharisees, boys and girls?) And also remember, they do not meet until the end of the movie and Powell goes from Good Angel to Avenging one and takes out the Steyr-toting blonde golem named Karl.
There are many other Christian & Biblical references in the movie. Joshua and the Walls of Jericho tumbling down at the sound of trumpets? McClane does his own Miles Davis solo with C4 and erases the bad guys from fourth floor of Nakatomi tower. Moses leads his people through the parting Red Sea to avoid the ire of the Pharaoh? McClane moves the hostages from the roof to a safer downstairs before the explosives installed by the terrorists and the machine-gunning of the two idiotic FBI agents gets them killed. Unbelievers decide to play by their own misguided rules and end up under a shower of fire and brimstone? Deal-maker Harry Ellis (Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I think I can handle this Eurotrash) pays the ultimate price for ignoring McClane’s advice by absorbing a bullet hole in the head.
But in the end, it is Love what we want. Lesser men would have said “Screw it, I don’t love my wife that much” and chosen to safely vacate the building, but John McClane, beaten, burnt, blown-up, shot and with bleeding feet does not stop till he finds his wife. There are many classic romantic lines in movies, but none come close to the heart-ripping “HOLLY!” as McClane faces Gruber at the climax of the film. Many a strong & hard men have secretly wiped a tear from their eyes when they see that battered figure with an MP-5 coming for the love of his life. Love conquers it all!
So there you have it. Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all times. I don’t care how many accolades other films may have and on how many lists they have been accepted to, nothing compares to the through message of love during the holidays like Die Hard.