John McClane? More like Shmon ShmcShmane. There'd be no Die Hard without Bruce Willis, this we know, but just as important to the franchise are the incidental characters: the single-serving supporting roles who make the most of their miniscule screen time. Stand down, McClane: it's time to big up the little guys.
Hostile takeovers can make a man hungry, and even terrorists need treats. Expertly puncturing the tension while we wait for Hans Gruber's cronies to slaughter some encroaching policeman, henchman Uli - played by screen legend Al Leong - breaks from formation ever-so-briefly to snaffle a chocolate bar from Nakatomi's confectionary counter. He's later killed by John McClane, but at least he had a full stomach.
This is the first hint we get in Die Hard that the upper echelons of American law enforcement ain't all that and a bag of tater chips. Before Dwayne T Robinson gets butt-fucked on National TV, he sends the Special Forces in to surround Nakatomi, but they're hardly intimidating - one guy, building his part if Steven de Souza is to be believed, gives out a tiny yelp when he pricks his finger on a thorn in Nakatomi's shrubbery. Still, it's not the worst thing that happens to him that day.
"You wanna know the secret to surviving air travel? After you get where you're going, take off your shoes and your socks then walk around on the rug bare foot and make fists with your toes." Thanks, genius. This guy is half villain, half hero. On one hand, he's the reason John McClane spends half the movie with his shoes off and severely lacerates his feet. On the other hand, he's the reason the movie isn't half as long. We begrudgingly salute you, fists with your toes guy. You wonderful shithead.
See my previous point about law enforcement. Captain Carmine Lorenzo is perhaps the worst police officer in the entire Die Hard franchise; not only does he seem unphased by the idea of terrorists tearing around his airport carrying automatic weapons, but he's committed to shutting down every good idea John McClane has, just to stay on the side of wrong. The only character douchier than him in the entire series is his brother Vito, who gives McClane a parking ticket because he's a prick.
In the first Die Hard, John becomes chummy with Al, the Twinkie-loving cop; the beginning of his long-standing relationships with fellow blue-collar workers. In Die Hard 2, he befriends Marvin, the airport keymaster who's possibly still suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from Iwo Jima. The relationship is a little strained - McClane tactfully jokes about "letting him live" - but they're sharing a joke by the end of the movie, with plane wreckage strewn across the runway. Seriously though Marvin, you really should clean that shit up.
"We're just like British Rail, love: we may be late but we get you there."
Even though I love Die Hard With A Vengeance and its cast of misfits dearly, I think Jerry - with his sleeveless shirt and his big bear moustache - is my favourite. We first encounter him when McClane pulls a gun on his truck, and his jovial attitude gives away the fact he's no terrorist ("No, I'm a beautician! Of course
I'm a truck driver!"). Not only does Jerry buddy up with McClane and give him a lift, he basically saves the day by knowing who the 21st President of the USA was. If knowledge is power, Jerry is the boss. Did we also mention he drives a huge truck?
Women, am I right? They're always cheating on you with German terrorists and slitting guys' throats with terrifying blades, then shooting you in the head. 'Like' this if you agree! Katya – played with troubling menace by Christian singer-songwriter Sam Phillips – is the dark heart of Die Hard With A Vengeance, trading in her terrorist partner Targo for the even more villainous Simon Gruber and delivering the news to her ex with a bullet to his forehead. Her fondness for ultra-violence is creepy, but not as creepy as the fact that she stays mute throughout the entire movie. Women!
Long confirming the suspicion that even terrorist geniuses can't get the staff these days, Otto is that most worrisome kind of hired goon: the fat, non-English-speaking, trigger-happy variety. In Die Hard With A Vengeance, he puts a bullet in McClane's mate Ricky without even bothering to clear it with his superiors, brazenly sporting his blood-splattered police badge without giving its conspicuousness a second thought. That cockiness was to be Otto's end, when McClane clocks the badge in a lift and wastes him, but we're still hopefully of an Otto-centric prequel, explaining how he ever got anyone to hire him in the first place.
Blatantly added to Die Hard 4.0 to meet its quota of 'modern things that terrify John McClane', parkour-obsessed henchman Rand is approximately sixteen times more agile than our hero and leaps athletically from pillar to post when, often, taking the stairs would be way easier. Not only is Rand unapologetically French, but he's such a badass he gets an affectionate nickname out of McClane. Alas, seconds after he's dubbed "Spider-boy", he's ground into meat by a cooling unit, which – when you realise how much he looks like Coldplay singer Chris Martin – is quite satisfying.
Yippee-Ki-Yay! This week on TheShiznit.co.uk is Die Hard Week, with A Good Day To Die Hard in cinemas on Thursday 14th February. Also available as a Brucey bonus is the Die Hard Quadrilogy 25th Anniversary Blu-ray boxset.