Until last weekend I had never seen Die Hard. I'm not really sure how I missed it. I was a little too young to see it in the theater (though really exactly the right age for it in general, no matter what the MPAA thought), and like so many movies I just never got around to it later. It's definitely not the sort of movie I'd want to watch edited for television, though I don't remember ever making a conscious choice not to watch it. And it's entered the culture so thoroughly that I both feel like I've sort of seen it already, and like there's no way I wouldn't be disappointed in it.
But I wasn't! I really liked it. And I was surprised how few of the details I actually knew, and how much those details really mattered. I also had no idea how 80s it was. I mean, obviously, I knew it was made in 1988, but I mean self-consciously so. John is a fine, upstanding, hardworking, blue-collar guy, and we'll prove it by showing you other characters with every cliched signifier of yuppie douchebaggery, with the conspicuous consumption and the cocaine and the - gasp! - independent career woman. The slimy coworker could have been from The Wedding Singer. That's not a criticism, it was just a surprise. I expect these things to be more natural when they're actually of the period, but of course it's not like people living in a time aren't aware of their own cliches. I guess nowadays it would all be recession references and everyone tweeting all the time.
It's interesting how in a film like this I can completely accept whatever huge ridiculous things they throw at me, but the little things drive me nuts. Especially if they're not related to the action. Maybe I spent too much time temping in the aughts, but would they really let Bruce Willis walk right into that building without calling the person he was visiting or even taking his name? And with a gun? Fighting terrorists barefoot, dropping C4 down an elevator shaft, totally fine. The security guard knowing that the 30th floor is having a party? Nope.
Anyway, hardly a revelation to say "Die Hard is good." It's been said by many others very well, including quite recently. The surprise, I guess, is that after 23 years of hype I still thought it was great.