Hard not to die for the best Christmas film

By James Bennett

“Now I have a machine gun — ho ho ho.”

This year is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Roderick Thorp’s book Nothing Last Forever, which in 1988 was transformed into Die Hard — the greatest Christmas movie of all time.

To be honest, there is not much point continuing with this column.

Not only is Die Hard a sensational, violent, perfectly cast, heart-stopping Christmas classic, it is one of the greatest films ever made.

No other try-hard Christmas movie even comes close to stacking up against Die Hard — so what is the point of comparing?

But because I have to be fair, I am going to settle this once and for all: This is why Die Hard is the best Christmas film.

Straight off the bat, I bet you did not know Die Hard was adapted from a book, as mentioned above, and like another masterpiece, Silence of the Lambs, it is technically a sequel.

The first book was called The Detective and was published in 1966. I recently learnt it was turned into a film two years later, with the main character, Joe Leland (changed to John McClane in Die Hard), played by Frank Sinatra.

For some reason there is a debate about whether Die Hard is a Christmas film at all.

Well it is, because it is set on Christmas Eve and there are numerous references to the festive season — as quoted at the beginning of this column.

And if we are being honest, men will tend to say it is definitely a Christmas film and the best of them, while women might disagree.

It soars above other Christmas-based movies such as Home Alone, The Grinch, Elf but above all, Love Actually.

As sexy as Hugh Grant is dancing to Jump (For My Love) or as heart-breaking as Emma Thompson is perfectly tearing up while listening to Joni Mitchell’s rerecording of Both Sides Now, as she learns of her husband’s betrayal (played by Alan Rickman, who seems to play ‘the bad guy’ around Christmas) — Love Actually is not as good as Die Hard.

One of the strengths of Die Hard is that it has a simple plot about a man trying to save the woman he "loves" by taking on 13 terrorists that storm Nakatomi Plaza.

Love Actually is an excellent film with a star-studded cast, but there are literally 10 different plots.

No doubt everyone forgets the insignificant characters such as Tim from The Office (UK) and the other woman who fall in love as stand-ins for sex scenes in films.

But I'm not here to bash Love Actually, because there a plenty of other Christmas classics that also fail to dethrone Die Hard.

Home Alone, for example, is riddled with ethical problems.

A Christmas Story is strange, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life are dull, The Grinch is only good because of Jim Carrey, Elf is not funny, even for children, Bad Santa is hilarious but too dirty to get into any details, the Griswolds’ adventure is a home run but just short of the pinnacle and the list goes on.

The debate can drag on for ages, but it has to be Die Hard. The plot is not complicated and cast is underrated.

I will not even start on its two perfect sequels. And I have amnesia when people mention numbers four and five.

Instead of watching carols by candlelight this year, because it has completely lost its touch, spend Christmas Eve watching Die Hard.

I know I will be dabbing my eyes watching it — and I can’t wait.

Read more of James' columns

Winter beats summer any day of the year

Mamma mia, stop the accents

How hard is it to clap properly?