I’m not going to build it up or dress it up nicely, this is international Motherfucker week. As simple as that. The only reason you need is that it’s fuckin sweet to say that all day long and go back to the simpler time when you had just discovered swear words. Even so, let me explain.
So the new Die Hard has released, and trusted sources tell me, that it’s great fun, and a nice in form sequel. But, and this is crucial, the iconic line that I have grown up repeating, the one that begins with “Yippee-ki-yay”, and ends with, yup, sahi jawab, “Motherfucker”, is only half there. And guess which half got misplaced by the PG13 ass kissing whoresons out there? Sahi Jawab, aap iss cheque ko choo sakte hain.
Why am I so worked up though? As some heathens (cough, beatzo, cough) would say, it’s just a movie, man. Well it is, like 300 is just a comic, or Godfather is just a book, or Never Mind The Bollocks is just an album. Yes, all of these are iconic, they were great fun then, and we have moved on to more, maybe better of the same now. They are merely products of the entertainment medium they chose to live in. Yeah, but they all KICK ASS. These are rites of passage rituals to mandom.
And this is the truth: it’s not just a movie. As a kid watching it in the eighties, it OPENED MY HORSES! (Yeah, inside joke, go here.)
Picture this: You are a European terrorist holding a building hostage, and you find yourself thinking, “Hey! Zis vas eazy. Zis building is as safe as mein mädchen’s lap for me. Vat problem can vun cop really bee?”, etc. Now this is when that very cop breaks through one of the many air vents or shafts any time, and fucks with your happiness real bad.
I’m talking of course, about Officer John McClane. You know, Policeguy, deadly aim, all round hard ass? Of course you do. Nothing defined the eighties better than the iconic eighties action heroes. John Rambo, T800, John Matrix, Robocop, John McClane, Riggs and Murtaugh, Kaalia, Arjun Malvankar, the whole bunch. What makes John McClane even more badass than all of the other people from the eighties is that he is not a trained killing machine. He’s just a chain smoking cop with receding hairline and handy around guns. T800, say, can kill twelve terrorists just by the by on his way to his main mission to kill his target. (And let’s face it, he does get his ass handed to him in all the films’ end). But when you are just a regular guy with a police issue beebee gun, taking out twelve terrorists in one night is hella hard ass. And he doesn’t take days or weeks in wiping the bad guys off, like the others. He does that before Christmas, and he started on Christmas Eve!
Not only does he polish the pesky Euro-terrorists off in increasingly cool fashions, he does that without any shoes. Factor in huge chunks of glass and debris around and that means when he’s not shooting bad guys, he taking chunks of glass the size of PSPs from his feet. That’s badass.
Seriously though, Die Hard was the first time I saw a pure action film that perfectly balanced a heist, comedy, character development, and a touch of the rare – the characters were right on the thin line between realistic and fantastically mythic. Watch it again and you’ll see that director John McTiernan paces the action and comedy between pure tense moments beautifully.
There were long beats where the hero just lay hiding and waiting and trying to improvise, something that was contrary to all way of making an action film. We had seen action heroes with vulnerabilities, but McClane with his jet lag and sleeplessness and feet full of fuckin glass was something so completely original that others had to ape it eventually.
Te rest of the cast is simply fantastic, and McTiernan does a great job reining them all in. Riggs and Murtaugh were the ultimate buddy cops, but Reginald VelJohnson played his role with believability and true to life beats; I still think theirs was as good a hero-sidekick relationship as any. Alan Rickman’s grim presence was exploited by the actor to his fullest, and it remains his most menacing role, Snape or no Snape.
The cinematography and action choreography are beat perfect, and there is surprising amount of believability in the environment they create. The building and its infrastructure is created simply to offer action set pieces a place and a room, but they seem real and functional. The lag time between two terrorists dying is utilized not only by Willis to shine on a new coat of vulnerability, Jan De Bont and McTiernan use that time to establish a sense of geography to the Nakatomi building and establish the film firmly as something that has very few mistakes. (I’ve only ever see one, really)
Of course the casual way with which terrorism was observed in the eighties is not something that can find resonance in our time, but you don’t see me complaining about sexism when I watch Wayne westerns, do you?
There are iconic one-liners, and most don’t even belong to McClane, and the film improves because of the focus McTiernan had for the entire project. “Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out so we got you with tape decks.” Awesome.
It’s a film that not only spawned a whole lexicon, it is a film that became a staple diet film at my VHS player with friends. A friend once said that it’s our generation’s Sholay. I don’t quite agree with him, because our generation’s Sholay is still Sholay, as it should be for all generations (someone forward this to Ramu), but this one’s pretty up there as frequent watch films go. This is not a cinematic watershed moment, it’s just a film. It’s just a film that kicks ass.
This was not a love letter for an eighties action film. This was to tell you that you don’t rubbish international Motherfucker week. It’s a week, because from here till the end of seven days, you pick a day, any day, and use the word motherfucker in your language all day long. Pay respect to something that has been part of your childhood like Maggi, GoldSpot, Litchis from the tree, Double Decker buses, bicycles with U shaped handle bars.
Go my little devious ones, spread the word. Yippie ki yay…