For the first time in many years, last night I re-watched the original Die Hard.
It was quite good, and like many iconic action films, part of what makes it so popular is its pointed social commentary. Whereas Death Wish and Dirty Harry offered trenchant criticisms on the passive response of politicians to rising crime and societal breakdown, Die Hard not only offers a critique of career-obsessed married mothers but also the colossal ineptitude of both police leadership and the FBI.
That puts it in the first rank of action films and the four sequels prove that it found a repeat audience.
However, that doesn't mean it's a Christmas film.
I'm not sure where this started, but it's taken on a life of its own, likely because when it's taking a break from ruining peoples' lives, social media likes to indulge in heated debates about trivial topics.
Since I rarely use social media, I tuned this out and when the topic came up, I ignored the discussion because I hadn't seen it in so long. However, with my recent viewing I think it's blindingly obvious that the only Christmas element in it is the time of year.
The terrorist/robbery caper was set to take advantage of an empty building and lax law enforcement presence, and a Christmas party offered the perfect opportunity.
That's it. There are perfunctory Christmas references but only because that's what people say at that time of year.
In that sense, it's a Christmas movie in the sense that every film about the Battle of the Bulge is a Christmas movie, because that's when the combat took place.
No one experiences a change of heart relating to the season, no one's faith is strengthened, no one undergoes a Scrooge-like transformation. There is zero spiritual growth. Yes, the McClane's reconcile, but that's a trope out of The Love Boat, not a Christmas message.
*Those of you who read my Geek Guns feature on John McClane's Beretta 92F will note that I do in fact make a passing reference to the film being a "timeless Christmas film," but I think it was pretty clear I was being ironic.