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Why 'Die Hard' is the perfect Valentine's Day movie (for guys)

By John Hanlon, Special to CNN
February 14, 2013 -- Updated 1445 GMT (2245 HKT)
Bruce WIllis began a series when he starred as Officer John McClane in the 1988 film
Bruce WIllis began a series when he starred as Officer John McClane in the 1988 film "Die Hard."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Writer argues that "Die Hard" is kind of romantic
  • Bruce Willis' character loves his wife and wants to rekindle their relationship
  • McClane proves his love for his wife by killing terrorists

(CNN) -- From the "Twilight" trilogy to the tearjerkers adapted from Nicholas Sparks novels to nearly every film where Matthew McConaughey takes off his shirt, let's face it: Most cinematic love stories are made for women.

So it may seem strange to release the new "Die Hard" installment, "A Good Day to Die Hard," on Valentine's Day. But for our money, it makes perfect sense. Where "The Notebook" is the gold standard for women, the original "Die Hard" is the ultimate romantic movie for men.

Sound crazy? Stick with me.

The 1988 original stars Bruce Willis as John McClane, a sarcastic New York cop visiting his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and his two children in California. When he arrives at Holly's office Christmas party, the tension in their relationship is immediately evident. Holly is using her maiden name again and John doesn't even plan to stay with his family while he's in town.

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There's no doubt that John loves his wife and wants to rekindle the romance, but he can't seem to admit it. But while John proves incapable of communicating his feelings to his wife verbally, an opportunity arises allowing him to prove his devotion to her.

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Midway through the party, a team of terrorists led by the stylish Hans Gruber (a scene-stealing Alan Rickman) interrupts the event and holds most of the attendees hostage. The quick-thinking John eludes their grasp and eventually begins taking down the bad guys one by one in order to rescue his captured wife.

The story's subtext recognizes the stereotypical, but undeniable fact that many men aren't romantic or open with their emotions. Despite what many rom-coms and dramas suggest, a lot of guys don't picture themselves courting a woman by blasting a boombox outside a bedroom window, as is done in "Say Anything." (In fact, that's probably illegal in most states.) And forget "Titanic." Guys don't want to get the girl of their dreams by freezing in the ocean while keeping the one they love afloat on a piece of driftwood. (That plan doesn't actually work long-term, either.)

Men often imagine winning a girl's affection by proving their worth in a battle against someone or something that threatens their loved one's life. While many women want the men in their lives to be sensitive like Ryan Gosling's "Notebook" character Noah, guys aspire to be like the renegade John McClane in "Die Hard."

John offers a brand of masculinity and strength that men can look up to (akin to what John Wayne and Clint Eastwood once offered moviegoers). John doesn't back down and he never gives up. The cold and calculating Hans may mock John for his cowboy mentality, his freewheeling spirit and his assumed affection for masculine film actors of the past (like Wayne). But John doesn't care what Hans thinks. John just keeps killing bad guys.

While separated from his wife, John shows his love for her by killing terrorists and trying to protect her. Compare that to Gosling's Noah: When he's separated from the girl he loves, he writes love letters. How does John send messages in "Die Hard"? He writes notes on the sweatshirts of dead terrorists, and in one scene even throws a dead terrorist out a window to send a message to a passing police officer. That's how he communicates.

The climactic scenes at the end of "Die Hard" prove why it's a perfect Valentine's Day flick for guys.

There is no declaration of love between John and his wife. There is no grand romantic gesture that shows how much he cares for her. As the story concludes, John McClane — who has been shot, brutalized and cut by hundreds of pieces of glass — has proven his love for his wife by killing all the terrorists who threatened her.

And with that, he gets the girl and they make out in the back seat of a limo.

Now that's love.

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