The penis is indeed king.
Everything that was wrong in America in the late '80s is addressed in this film through metaphors that cause even illiterate teenagers to yawn.
For starters, 1988 was the height of the American paranoia about the possibility of the Japanese acquiring all our businesses and then forcing us to eat rice during inappropriate occasions like breakfast. No small coincidence, then, that the action takes place in the unfinished Nakatomi Plaza, as if director John McTiernan were warning us that the takeover is almost complete. And look what that takeover is spawning: nasty Aryans. Hans (Alan Rickman), Karl (Alexander Godunov) and all their friends have come on the scene to do us harm too.
So here comes NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) to visit his Los Angeles wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). Why are they separated? Damn if Holly hasn't been building a career for herself that forced a move to the city of angels. She's quite the bitch, unabashedly landing a real job, using her maiden name and screwing up the cohesion of the nuclear family. I'd say John needs to prove he's a man, win her back and establish that the penis is indeed king.
All this is complemented by more walking clichés than an Alan Smithee film festival: the desk cop (Reginald Veljohnson) who shot a kid, the Deputy Chief of Police (Paul Gleason) and every other person of authority who can't do a damn thing right, and, of course, the security guard who looks like Huey Lewis. Man, if you ask me, there's nothing like featuring a Huey Lewis look-alike to exploit our fears about the disintegration of '80s American culture.
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