The Bronze Medal

home  |  February 24th, 2013

It’s important to remember, as action heroes go, just how radical McClane seemed in 1988. He arrived in the shadow of Schwarzenegger’s Teutonic (and, in “The Terminator,” literally robotic) unstoppability and the hoo-rah fantasy of Rambo leaping up from a river to cut down entire armies with bow and arrows. The quintessential scene in the first “Die Hard” is one in which McClane is pinned down in an office cubicle, and Hans Gruber, noticing McClane’s unshod feet, instructs his sidekick to “schiess dem Fenster” — shoot the glass. Cut to McClane hobbling and trailing great globs of blood into a bathroom, then prying shards from his sliced-up soles. By contrast, the quintessential scene in the most recent James Bond film, “Skyfall,” occurs when Bond jumps onto the ripped-open backside of a moving train car, then pauses to adjust his cuff links.

— On the Enduring Appeal of Die Hard

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