John McLane heads to his estranged wife’s office holiday party and just as he’s getting cleaned up, wham, a group of hijackers crash the party and hold the yuppies hostage until they can make off with a shitton of bonds. Led by a samurai sharp Alan Rickman, the hi-tech heisters have everything under control, except the cowboy nobody invited. The cowboy is McLane, played to badass perfection by Bruce Willis (utilizing his comedic talents). Right from the beginning, McTiernan, working from a balls out awesome script by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, sets a tone of self parody that has, until very recently, never been competently duplicated (see Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s twin classics for examples). When John McLane quips to himself and shoots one liners at bad guys like Uzi spray, we accept it because, aside from it being awesome, his character has been established as someone who talks to himself (see what a little bit of planning and character development in a script can do for you?). The plethora of agent Smiths, the German henchmen and a Twinkie eating cop on the night beat all work together like a cliché supergroup, creating an atmosphere that asks the audience to ponder why these seemingly incompetent (they're not, by the way) filmic elements have been mixed with such intense and realistic action. But why do something like that? I will leave you to mull that one over, but remember to check out Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead for other fine examples of films that parody a genre of which they have become an indispensable addition, the genres being action and horror, respectively. The sequel, excellently subtitled Die Harder was, while entertaining, not nearly as good as its big brother, and the third film (Die Hard with a Vengeance) even more so. Let’s just leave it at that and not even mention Live Free or Die Hard (ugh).