Christmas at Nakatomi Plaza

Here we are again. That strange purgatory between Halloween and Christmas. And yes, Thanksgiving is tossed somewhere in the middle of this mix. I would implore you to find a proper Thanksgiving movie if you have trouble getting in the ‘thankful’ spirit. However it is almost time for Christmas — and therefore it is yet again the proper time for Christmas movies. When thinking about Christmas films, the mind instantly jumps to the orthodox classics — “Polar Express,” “A Christmas Story,” or even perhaps the Griswolds from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” I must admit, dear reader, I have never felt any more festive with such cliche titles. Let’s instead explore Bruce Willis’ heroic role as the savior of Nakatomi Plaza in John McTiernan’s classic: “Die Hard.”

Before we proceed I must confess — I have let myself, and likely you, down as well, dear reader. Twenty-two years I have scoured the earth for interesting media and examples of proper American cinema, and yet it has never occurred to me to watch this film. All of the components that routinely peak my interest are all present — a righteous hero, a duty and even obligation to challenge all odds to fight evil, and of course, automatic weapons.

John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, flys out of New York to Los Angeles in an attempt to find lost love in his dear spouse. It seems the Christmas cards and fruit baskets aren’t getting delivered in a timely enough fashion. On the plane, a passenger notices John Mclane’s nervous demeanor and implores him to go to his intended destination, remove his shoes and socks, and make “fists with yer toes” — advice I will have to verify and report back before I can testify to the efficacy of such behavior.

Once in the airport, a rookie limo driver going under the name Argyle (yes, like the sweater pattern) picks him up and almost immediately explains John’s entire backstory with remarkable accuracy. The story according to Argyle is as follows – A NYPD cop flying out to LA to meet up with his woman who figured she wouldn’t last too long in this corporate gig. John McClane reasoned ‘Why even pack my stuff up’? John drew this sensible conclusion and turned out to be dead wrong, as his wife is the new Vice President of the Nakatomi corporation.

Once John McClane is on scene, Argyle asks if he has a place to crash, should this rekindling of lost love not go exactly as planned. John asserts that he will find a place, but this does not satisfy Argyle. Argyle instead says he will wait for him in the parking garage, and either way John can make a phone call in a while and let him know. Certainly above-average chauffeur service at its finest.

John has entered the Nakatomi plaza and finds that his wife has abandoned the last name McClane and has instead chosen to go by her maiden name. This upsets John, but he decides not to retreat to Argyle despite this troublesome news. “They are at the Christmas party on the 30th floor” the security guard / door man tells him. “Take the express elevator.”

Once John gets up there, Japanese CEO Takagi introduces himself and says he will take him to his wife’s, Holly Gennero McClane, office. Takagi explains some pretense that she is currently occupied attending to some miscellaneous corporate nonsense. Amusingly, when they enter her office, Ellis another corporate deal closer, played by Hart Bochner, is going skiing. Yes, it was snowing on that mirror on the desk, the razor blades are clearly to trim Ellis’s excellent beard. Not much doubt about that.

Bruce shakes his hand, and tosses “you missed some,” right at Ellis who quickly sniffs the remaining powder up his nostril. Holly Gennero McClane, played by Bonnie Bedelia, is suddenly on scene. For some strange reason they end up in Ellis’s private bathroom and begin talking. John asks Holly about the name, which she kind of dodges before she gets pulled to give another corporate speech at a Christmas party. John takes this moment of privacy to “make fists with his toes.” But little did he expect, German terrorists are already on scene.

In a flash, machine guns begin going off and John McClane is now a shoeless cop and heavily outnumbered. All members of the Nakatomi corporation are held hostage but John manages to slip away. All phone lines are cut, all exits are sealed and the only communication with the outside world is done through walkie-talkie radios, as well as hurling deceased German terrorists onto police cars who suspect absolutely nothing with a completely sealed up corporate building with an entire parking garage filled with cars.

Speaking of a completely filled and sealed parking garage, Argyle is still down there. For what is likely 3-4 hours he suspects nothing is awry whatsoever, and is often shown as having a real bang-up time drinking complementary shots and hanging out with John’s apology bear. It’s a form of comedic relief from the often intense and close calls a shoeless John McClane is facing trying to deal with these German terrorists on this filthy Christmas eve.

The police, and later the FBI, show up and do absolutely nothing to help other than crash vehicles into the building and generally misjudge every single thing John tries to tell them. It is a classic tale of one man’s spirit making him triumphant against all forces of evil. It’s about an hour and a half of machine guns, explosives, general mayhem and profound confusion. Most importantly, it’s still a Christmas movie. Yippee Ki yay! M***********!…Chris’ Classic.