How Die Hard is a metaphor for the Iraqi War.
The true test for any ‘80s movie villain’s true meddle is in the company they keep: Lex Luthor had Ned Beatty, Ogre had the Alpha-Betas, Capt. Mauser had Proctor, Cobra Commander had the Baroness and East German terrorist, Hans Gruber had the 12 finest henchmen ever to be assembled in one office building.
Sure, Bruce Willis, in his career-defining performance as Lt. John McClane gets all the glitz and glory, but it’s the magnetic Rickman that steals every scene. The movie is truly like a chess game between two great thespians. Except the victor is the one who has the best one-liners. And there were plenty!
Hans Gruber, as leader of the Volksfrai Movement, put together a dream-team of stereotypical Euro-trash terrorists to invade Century City’s Nakatomi Plaza. The purpose it seems, is a massive terrorist attack and hostage crisis.
First, we meet his #2 guy, former ballet dance great, Alexander Godunov, (sensitive ponytail and all!) Who could forget the Huey Lewis-esqe bad guy named Eddie who becomes the fake front desk security guard. Then, it’s Mr. “Quarterback IS TOAST!” Yep, that’s Theo, the token black guy, who’s also the resident computer expert. There’s also the guy with the small feet, Gudunov’s brother , the Germans that can’t speak German and even Vigo, the bad guy from Ghostbusters 2!
Last but not least (of the memorable dudes) is Uli played by the same fella who played Genghis Khan in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Gary Busey’s torture buddy in Lethal Weapon. Truly the “Asian Forest Gump” of ‘80s movies villains.
Fun fact: Hans’ wack-pack all re-appear as Craig T. Nelson’s henchmen in 1988’s Carl Weather’s tear-jerker, Action Jackson. They must have got these guys on sale.
Unlike most vague-Euro bad guys of this era, Gruber had style and panache. He enjoyed the works of Puccini and Mozart, read books on Alexander the Great and supported his incarcerated brothers in the Asian Dawn. He was the world’s most educated terrorist, or so it seemed.
Turns out Gruber wasn’t interested in terror at all, it was all an elaborate ruse to steal $658,000,000 worth of Bearer Bonds from Mr. Takagi’s vault. And he would’ve gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling kid, John McClane! The ruse was over and the Gruber legend was born.
One wonders in this day of age of terror and war, that it could all actually be a front for crime and exploitation… Oh, who are we kidding, this isn’t the movies! Yippie-ki-yay Motherfucker! ´