By Travis Trombley
Now put your hand down - you look ridiculous.
If you’re like me, then every holiday season you have to justify Die Hard’s categorization as a Christmas movie. That the film takes place on Christmas Eve or that John McClane’s wife is named Holly doesn’t seem enough to convince the doubters. And, let’s be real, a coincidence of timing alone does not a Christmas movie make.
Fortunately for us believers, among the many cultural and genre critiques housed within this action film classic rests a subtle commentary on Christmas consumerism that can, once and for all, allow us to claim with certainty this proud holiday tradition. It’s a commentary embodied by the film’s chief antagonist, the delightfully swarmy Hans Gruber, played by the late Alan Rickman, aka Severus Snape.
To quickly recap, Hans and his band of German terrorists commandeer an office Christmas party at the Takegami cooperation under the auspices of teaching them “a lesson in the real use of power” as a consequence for their “legacy of greed around the globe.” In his introduction to his hostages and us, Hans presents himself as a radical - an international terrorists operating in the name of an ideology.
But of course, this is just a front. As Holly later points out, despite all his posturing and speeches, he’s nothing more than a “common thief” chasing a big score. The only offense Hans takes at this indictment is the word common: “I’m an exceptional thief,” he says. Hans adopts the extremist mask as a ruse to later fool the FBI. To buy time and sew confusion, he demands that certain “revolutionary brothers and sisters” from various extremist groups from around the world “be released from their captors.”