Mack truck-of-a-movie that lets Bruce Willis mime Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones (or Han Solo, for that matter). Ford found a sweet between grousing and ennui — the bored action hero who’ll go the extra round but, like, “Do I have to?” Willis is John McClain, a New York cop trying to visit his wife at Christmas in L.A. Before he knows it, poor John is a skyscraper where his spouse and dozens of others are being held hostage by a super-evil terrorist group and its villainous leader Hans Gruber (scowling Alan Rickman). The terrorists want to make off with $600 million in bonds.
Director James McTiernan rigs an assortment of explosions and gunfire, but the real fun is McClain wearily overcoming a trillion obstacles to ensure the sanctity of Christmas. Tweak disbelief in just the right way you get one most entertaining and paradoxically sweet action pictures in years. Willis’ comic timing is sharp and Rickman mocks himself with élan. Hats off to McTiernan for adding cop Al Powell (Reginald Veljohnson), who gives Willis a great foil. 9/11 probably killed off skyscraper action flicks forever, so do yourself a favor and step back in time.