Yippee ki-yay

I’m sure I’m not the first to point out that only unlikable characters die in the first Die Hard movie, and this is a sharp contrast to all the others. Even the uber-safecracker Theo, the only likable terrorist, survives Die Hard 1. It’s also notable that Theo doesn’t actually kill anyone, which might be a deciding factor in surviving that first movie and actually presages the McClane character arc through the next two films. Is John being punished for his kills, righteous or otherwise? And, so, like some twisted episode of Quantum Leap, he must set right what has gone wrong in Die Hard 2 and face the poorly written demons of his own creation in Die Hard 3?

Anyway… let’s take a look at non-terrorist deaths in the first movie. There’s Ellis — the only hostage to be killed besides Takagi. Ellis is a fucking asshole. You pump your fist a little bit when he dies. It’s like when Paul Reiser dies in Aliens. That man’s career has been marked by a moment in 1986 when he was gutted by an alien and audiences around the world clapped and cheered. Ellis doesn’t quite get that sort of reaction, but, still, 25 years later, you giggle a bit when he gets blown away. “Hans, babe, put away the gun, this is radio, not television.” Blam! Fucking Ellis.

Now, in Die Hard 2, we don’t get much buildup. We’re into the luggage area shootout within the first 10 minutes or so. Throughout the movie, tons of cops and soldiers die, and a whole BA flight gets blown up — piloted by Chief O’Brien of all people. Horrible.

Die Hard 3 sees cops, security guards, and mealy-mouthed bankers getting casually blown away by overweight Hungarians commanded by serial killers. In fact, Die Hard 3 is a nonsensical blood bath with long scenes where people make loving eye contact while emptying 15 rounds into the foreheads of mortally wounded people.

I have to apologize here because I’ve blocked Die Hard 4 from my memory. I don’t actually have any sense of what that movie was about or what happened. I erased that memory at home using a power drill and lots of gauze. I’m much better now, but the doctor says I should avoid Die Hard 5.

Now, I know what you’re saying — Nacho, you stupid asshole, what about Takagi? Joseph Yashinobo Takagi. Born Kyoto, 1937…Family emigrated to San Pedro, California 1939…interned at Manzanar 1942 to ’43…scholarship student, University of California…1955…Law degree, Stanford, 1962…MBA, Harvard, 1970…President, Nakatomi Trading…Vice Chairman, Nakatomi Investment Group…and father…of five.

Well, if being a corporate big-wig asshole isn’t enough to justify his death, let’s look at some interesting little hints about Takagi and Nakatomi Corp. First off, there’s Takagi’s morally ambiguous and completely authoritarian attitude, best seen where he doesn’t really care about one of his top executives doing cocaine off a cop’s wife’s desk. He mockingly tells Ellis that John’s a cop, but there’s this sense that there’s nothing the cops could do anyway. What happens at Nakatomi Plaza stays at Nakatomi Plaza. That above the law attitude comes from Thorpe’s original novel, where the CEO in question is a heartless oil baron immediately despised by the character who would become John McClane in the movie. The Ellis character, in the book, is a horrible fuck who’s having a torrid affair with the young and impressionable Stephanie — daughter in the book, and the character that would become the wife in the movie. You hate these guys from, like, page 7.

Now, Takagi’s character has been softened quite a bit… But that whole exchange with a coke-addled Ellis sort of puts you in the same mood as John — ugh.

Then, when Takagi is in danger, what’s the first thing he starts blabbering about? “Is that what this is about? Our project in Indonesia?” That project can be seen in the model room when John’s hiding — it’s a bridge of monstrous and dystopian proportions. What the hell is Nakatomi doing? Oh, is this all about the massive, satanic environmental disaster created by our bridge? The thousands we displaced? No? Yes?

When Gruber feeds his bullshit anti-corporate agenda to the authorities, nobody bats an eye. They’re all like, yeah, fucking Nakatomi Corp. Give me that radio, Powell! I’m typecast as an asshole middle manager in every 80’s movie, Powell!

What really raises my eyebrows is when the vault is finally opened. Those bearer bonds are just like a few boxes on one shelf. Ever stop and think about all the loot in that vault? It would make the Nazi high command blush. What’s Nakatomi Corp doing? Pillaging the museums of North America?

Given that Takagi is the only possibly likable character who gets killed in the first movie, I have to think that he’s not actually a good guy at all. And if we read between the lines, that’s pretty much clear. So says Nacho!