Yippee Kai-Aye Motherfucker.
(Or if you are watching ITV: Yippee Kai-Aye Kemosabe.)

Die Hard takes its time, that is its secret. Probably the first action film to be designed directly like a videogame (with levels and end of level bad guys even), Die Hard understands what all the very best videogames need. Personality. We get half an hour of seeing Bruce Willis’s John McClane being a bit crap. Fish out of water, he is New York in LA. He does not like flying, hates Run DMC and is shown as being potentially racist towards his limo driver. He is certain an unreconstructed old man when he considers the break up between him and his wife. And does not know how to handle a polite Christmas party. The film suggests he is probably inches away from divorce, alcoholism and potential self implosion.

Then things start exploding and Willis gets to make that face. No, not the smirk – he uses that one later. Rather the “what the fuck” face, at which point he becomes the fly in the ointment with no shoes on. There follows an hour and a half of top notch varied action and a tremendous antagonism between Willis and Alan Rickman. McClane stops being crap, but he never becomes perfect.

Die Hard invents the cliches for much of the nineties action films, so much that the phrase “Die Hard On A…” became pitching shorthand. Everything that can be considered with a tall building is pretty much done. Falling, jumping, blowing up: elevators and air conditioner conduits are the routes around. Willis is not the indestructable superman, his feet get cut up appallingly and the pain is palpable. And when he makes it to the end, when he saves his wife, what is his reward? His reward is to realise what an arsehole he was being to start off with. In my mind it is the closest thing to a perfect film, great simple script, top-notch casting and perfect pacing.

Oh and potentially the most interesting thing about the film is that it invented the Stockholm Syndrome, the seemingly scientific idea of hostages identifying with their captors. It is used ten a penny these days, but Die Hard made it up. Yippee Kai-Aye indeed.