Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmarathon Day 18: Lethal Weapon / Die Hard

Yeah, that's right.

In the late 80s to mid 90s, there were two action movie franchises that reigned supreme: Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. They were like the Iron Chefs of the action film genre. They both came out around 1988/87, they both took place on Christmas, they both spawned series that spanned four installments, and they were both totally feakin' awesome.

It's hard to remember how great both films were when looking back today, since the sequels got progressively worse and worse, until both series become something of a joke. Die Hard fairs a bit better, if only because the sequels were more successful and fun, and I guess because nobody really likes Mel Gibson anymore. You might say America has gotten too old for his shit. Anyway, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are two bad ass Christmas films that should be required viewing every season for die hard fans (pardon the pun) of action films.

Everybody else should watch them too, but for the action, comedy, and entertainment value, and not so much for the Christmas aspects. Both films just kind of take place on or around Christmas, shoe-horning in certain aspects and sentiments associated with the season. The Nakatomi building in Die Hard gets taken over by the bad guys during the building's Christmas party, and John McClaine happened to be there because he flew home to spend the holiday with his estranged wife and kids. Lethal Weapon probably takes place around the holidays because, while it's a very happy time for a great many happy people, it can be a soul-crushing time for the lonely and the unwanted, and that made Mel Gibson's character Martin Riggs all the more sympathetic, and gave a certain amount of credibility to his suicidal tendencies. I mean, of course he's going to try to kill himself. It's Christmas!

Both films also have lots of Christmas music, lights, and decorations. Lethal Weapon's opening credits are played to Jingle Bell Rock, and Die Hard ends with the song Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Die Hard 2 also ends with the exact same song, because that film also took place on Christmas Eve. A lot of people criticized the third Die Hard film for breaking from convention and being too much of a buddy film, but I really think the film suffered because it didn't take place on Christmas. That's a staple of the series, in my opinion! At the very least, it should've taken place on Thanksgiving or something.

Anyway, I don't have a whole lot to say about these two films (or eight, considering all of the sequels they spawned), other than that they are classics that helped define the genre. Seriously, these are two of the greatest action movies ever made, which makes them rank pretty high on my all time best ever lists. And since they take place on Christmas, you may as well take this opportunity to watch or rewatch them soon.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

Last year when I was on Long Island around Christmas time, I decided to watch my brother's DVD of Die Hard 2 (and got a little grief about it, since I opted for that one over Die Hard). What can I say? It puts me in the Christmas spirit.

Donald said...

Without a doubt, the first Die Hard is the best film in the series. But I would opt for 2 over any of the others. It's the most fun, in my opinion. The first Die Hard has moments of character development and social commentary and wry satire. The sequel is just balls to the wall action, and it's the better for it.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

That, and who hasn't seen Die Hard a billion times? Still, I love it. I'll have to watch it this year.