The Fox Building in Century City is slightly less idiotic than the Century City Marriott, and in this distinction lies the relative merit of Die Hard.
The 13th Warrior
Crichton’s Beowulf, put together as an analysis quite close to Charles B. Pierce’s The Norseman. An Arab gives the lineage of thought, Milius-Welles-Griffith the close signification of battles.
Last Action Hero
The matinee kid whom Spielberg (and these were the days of Spielberg) proposed as an alter ego is presented with a history and shown in his capacity as a sort of connoisseur. The exact dimension of difference between the reality of such a boy (I was one) and the dummy ultimately unveiled in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is described in the course of the film, with many another illuminating matter.
McTiernan plays fair with his audience’s expectations, they belong to a world and its idea that have a certain sense of reality, he reflects that in the opening sequence. The kid is propelled into the movie he is watching, the film begins. The method is deliberately chosen, Keaton is avoided for obvious reasons. The magic ticket suggests Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
From the moment the kid is in the action hero’s car, cinema is put on the screen at its correct level, ten thousand times more brilliant than the paltry hits of the day. The nearest thing in tone is perhaps Losey’s Modesty Blaise, the main models are certainly Quine’s The Notorious Landlady (its final sequence like a Warner Brothers cartoon) and How to Murder Your Wife. The departure from the screen is handled almost verbatim from Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles. The Purple Rose of Cairo is acknowledged.
Death in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal descends out of a poster, merely to prepare the kid’s return to reality. This might be compared to Les Enfants du paradis for courage under fire. It succeeded financially over the long haul, and was reviled unconscionably by the critics one and all.
McTiernan treats cars as toys, the camera as a paintbrush, cinema as art. He called the bluff of every tyro in Hollywood and scrupulously wrapped his masterpiece in dross and tinsel for their admirers, as you might say, comme il tiresomely faut.
Die Hard With a Vengeance
The hardest of McTiernan’s critics will have to note he sometimes trades judiciousness in for invention. He is one of two directors who have been able to capitalize on the velocity achieved by John Glen or Peter R. Hunt in the Bond films (Richard Donner is another).
Again, and to be done with it, the first mistake of Die Hard was to regard the Fox Building as defensible, but noblesse oblige. You quickly see that Die Hard With a Vengeance is constructed on a sure foundation, namely He Walked by Night. McTiernan displays two cardinal gifts, that of rendering visual logic as a mental process (with extreme rapidity, to be sure), and a knowledge of cinematic proportion in the placing of sight gags underhand as throwaways (chief among these is McClane propelled up through the escape chute by the water of the blown dam).
Ah, but it’s the possession of the facts, as you might say, which distinguishes this film. The ruses, tricks and mayhem unfold delicately with the absolute lunacy of the really observed.
The Thomas Crown Affair
The artist’s copy, released to substantiate his propositions, rather than to overthrow the constellate.