Die Hard: The Perfect Christmas Movie


Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

When Christmastime rolls around, all of us commence our yuletide routine. We play the classic carols, light the fireplace, pour the hot chocolate, and of course, we all gather to watch our favorite Christmas movies. We all know the ones: Home Alone, A Christmas Story, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, among others. However, there is one that should be regarded as the perfect Christmas movie but doesn’t come to mind as often as it should: Die Hard. I understand it may come as an initial surprise to some of you that this blockbuster action hit of the ‘80s would even come close to being considered a Christmas movie, much less a perfect one. However, beneath all those guns, explosions, and one-liners, there truly lies a wholesome holiday tale.

First off, let’s remind ourselves that the movie literally takes place during Christmas! Our protagonist, John McClane, was attending a company’s Christmas party when Hans’ terrorists arrived, so the setting and atmosphere is already there. Throughout the movie, all the decorations and lights really sell the holiday cheer, juxtaposed by the sheer terror of being hunted down by armed gunmen. There was also that iconic scene when one of Hans’ men, who was killed by McClane, had a little Santa hat on with the words “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.” scrawled across his bloody sweater, giving you a sick sense of joy. In the final scene, it even starts to “snow” paper bills while “Let it Snow” plays in the background!

Now, besides the superficial, the real aspect of how Die Hard is a Christmas movie comes through its plot and message. At the end of the day, the movie tells the story about an everyday father just trying to make it back to his family for Christmas. If that isn’t your typical x-mas movie plot, I don’t know what is. Sure it may not be as wholesome or clean as some others, but let’s be honest: you would rather watch the hero dad shoot a whole bunch of terrorists and blow things up more often than not. After all, the message couldn’t be more clear: life is full of difficulties and struggles. Sometimes, they’re family issues, financial lows, or the occasional hostage situation. However, it’s the power of hope and spirit of the season that will help us push through and bring us all of us together.

There is also another detail in this film that earns it its Christmas movie badge, which is the villain. Think to classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The antagonists featured in these stories share a common theme. They all have little regard for human empathy and are powerful, greedy individuals. Their actions benefit only themselves and they’ll always think of the protagonist as inferior. Now, upon observing Hans Gruber, it’s impossible not to see the similarities. His goal is to rob hundreds of thousands of dollars and is more than willing to put a bullet in anyone standing in his way. In the movie, Hans becomes surprised when he sees just how disruptive John has become since he has only dismissed him as an annoying outlier that would be dealt with easily. 

It goes without saying that Christmas movies are delightful and always deliver that feel-good cheer. With Die Hard, however, we end up getting just that and so much more. There’s the setting, plot, and themes that are all reminiscent of those other movies that we already hold dear, but on top of that, we’re treated to the raw action thrills of shootouts, buildings exploding, and crazy suspense that keeps you at the edge. With a combination like that, how could we not consider this to be the perfect little Christmas movie to enjoy every year?