Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"Oh my God, the quarterback is toast!!!"

Okay, the teaser for Live Free or Die Hard looks rather foul. I know that I'm in the minority in finding the two sequels rather blah (although I did think there were some fun moments in the third film). It is interesting, however, to see how John McClane went from being an underdog to being an unstoppable force of Jack Slater proportions (I feel justified in using John McTiernan's own work against him). One of the main reasons the original Die Hard worked so well was because the character was isolated and vulnerable; the sequels didn't have those qualities and therefore didn't appeal to me as much. The scale of this film runs very counter to the by-nature limited scope of the first, which I think remains a benchmark of the action genre.

Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)
IMDB Amazon Neflix

This lengthy clip is a pivotal sequence in the film. The pace builds tension to a certain level and then plateaus it with humor... but the humor doesn't dispel the tension. The juxtaposition of completely mundane details on such an extreme situation - the S.W.A.T. guy pricking his finger on a thorn in the plaza garden, or the terrorist's sweet tooth, for example - elicit a nervous laugh of recognition in the viewer, but there is forward momentum being generated by the movements of the S.W.A.T. and the "R.V." that keeps those bits of levity in service of the action during the course of the scene.

The sequence also illustrates one of the points I was making above. Die Hard is a very taut concept; the villains are very smart and are prepared for anything and everything the police can throw at them from outside. McClane is, as he says, "a fly in the ointment, a monkey in the wrench," something they couldn't have factored into their calculations who is unexpectedly inside their armor. Because he is an unpredicted and unpredictable element for them, he wields a certain amount of power, but he is also alone and getting progressively more worn out as the story progresses. He is a blunt instrument, however, and these men are organized and smarter than him.

What makes the film work is that while there are a myriad of distinctive characters in the movie, the scope is nevertheless very narrow. There is one primary situation and everything else in the film builds out of it. This puts a safety valve on the amount of heroics McClane can perform in the film. This is reflected in Michael Kamen's busy score, which doesn't present any central heroic theme for McClane, but the villains are identified with his characteristic five-note 'danger' motif and minor mode variations of the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

And on a related, if slightly sillier note (which nevertheless demonstrates rather well the power of both montage and music)...

Work Safe

Rejinald Veljohnson graduated from my high school. So did Ron Jeremy. For some strange reason, they had Veljohnson show up for career day, but not the Hedgehog.

Some links from Raz:

The Inbox Of Nardo Pace, The Empire's Worst Engineer (very funny!)

Man, 102, takes out 25-year mortgage (baffling)
Tags: cinema, film music, michael kamen, movie funnies, movie moments

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