#TBT / Christmas Movie Countdown continues, apace..
I loathe the annual ‘Is DIE HARD a Christmas movie?’ debate. It is beloved as a conversation / click bait topic most frequently among those whom I suspect, strongly, of a movie knowledge deficit.
There is also a trend for deploying the debate as a distraction tactic. As in ‘hey we don’t just do serious news; let’s talk movies and Christmas things!’.
That said? Well, if one is considering Christmas film criteria then it would be silly not to include DIE HARD. I am however going to mix things up a bit. By joining LETHAL WEAPON to the party. Here we go..
Both are 80s action movies from the Joel Silver stable. The heroes are mirror images. Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs is competently insane. Bruce Willis’ John McClane is insanely competent. Riggs is mourning his wife. McClane is trying to save his marriage. Each has a bravery, verging on fool hardy to suicidal. There is a calming influence in the background (Danny Glover as Murtagh; Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt Al Powell).
Michael Kamen scored the two movies with a hint of Christmas bells and carols to match. Gibson and Willis were considered for each other’s roles. And indeed, I believe, that for a fifth Riggs adventure and sixth McClane outing, the two universes should crossover. Mel vs Bruce!
They were supposed to face off, literally, in one mooted pairing for 1997’s FACE/OFF. And they were also almost on screen together in EXPENDABLES 3 (Bruce dropped out due to $$$; Mel fought Stallone, instead).
Die Hard 3’s script was almost adapted into Lethal Weapon 4. And so on. Connections, galore! And both series love..CHRISTMAS!
Two franchises, both alike. They MUST meet as the coda to each series? Just a thought. Initial antagonists maybe working opposite ends of a case, imagine Riggs and McClane teaming up in the final scenes of ‘Die Hard, Lethal Weapon‘ or ‘Lethal Weapons Die Hard‘?? And yes, set it at CHRISTMAS!
Are the original films (from 1987 and 1988) actual ‘Christmas’ fare? Yes. Of course! Heck, DIE HARD 2 is also Christmas based. And blink and you miss it but LETHAL WEAPON 2 is based around Thanksgiving.
Make no mistake, these are very violent, grimy movies. Christmas is used as a kind of pulpy contrast/innocent juxtaposition to the primal war on yuppy excess, greed and clash of civilisations in the mid to late 1980s to early 1990s.
Drugs! Terror! Gangs! LOTS of BLOOD! And the heroes are not perfect. Though incorruptibly blue collar, they smoke, drink, swear and utter very un WOKE , PC free profanities, throughout. But there is a sense of light, too. A dawn in the darkness.
Riggs overcomes his suicidal urges and calms his inner demons. Handing a ceremonial bullet (earmarked for his suicide previously in the film), to his new buddy Sgt Murtagh: there is a sense of closure in character arc. ‘I’ll let you in on a little secret. I aint crazy’..he says, while joining in a Family dinner. McClane defeats both FBI bureaucrats AND the bigger bad bank robbing terrorists, reconciling to his wife, Holly, as credits roll.
So yes. Though by no means obviously so? BOTH John McClane AND Martin Riggs qualify for the Christmas movie club. x