Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? We do not know. But let’s assume for a moment that this is the case and skip this tired debate. If Die Hard counts as a Christmas movie just because it’s set at Christmas time, so does any movie that sits more or less on the commercial side of the calendar.
That being said, it’s time to take off your yippee-ki-yays and expand your holiday action movie playlist. All of these movies are great fun – well, maybe not “fun” in the sense of holiday cheer, but movies that are solid in themselves whether or not you care about the Christmas angle.
Lethal weapon, 1987
As a film series, Lethal Weapon has always played second fiddle to Die Hard, but the original entry is still a minor classic. The cops versus drug dealer story touches a lot of the same rhythms – cops in Los Angeles, psychological trauma and of course Christmas – but he’s a little more willing to examine his protagonists and let them do more than shoot a lot. real goods. He also has some genuine laughs in his script. Say what you like about their later work, but there has never been a better buddy duo than Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, and that core dynamic influences action movies over 30 years later.
Lethal Weapon is rated R. It’s streaming on HBO Max.
Maybe Bruce Willis doesn’t try as hard as an actor as he did in 1988. But the entire cast of RED, including Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban and Mary Louise-Parker, has extra weight. . When a retired CIA agent flirts with his pension account manager, he unwittingly discovers a conspiracy … which leads him to kidnap her (in a beautiful way). They’ve beaten a road trip across the country to reunite his old spy buddies and get to the bottom of it. Is it on the Christmas theme? Only in the most accessory way possible. Is it fun? Ho-ho-hell yes.
RED is classified PG-13. It broadcasts on Fubo and Showtime.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, 2005
One of my personal favorites, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is the sleeping action flick that put Robert Downey Jr. back on the map as a leading man. The story also has a lot of parallels with Die Hard: New Yorker comes to LA on Christmas, a lot of people get shot, et cetera. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang isn’t quite a show alongside other movies on this list, but the razor-sharp dialogue between burglar-turned-actor Harry (Downey), tough, very gay sleuth Perry (Val Kilmer) , and Midwest Transplant Harmony keeps you coming back. The film is also a classic Dark Detective Love Letter, directed and written by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame. He’s also attached to Christmas, so this isn’t the last time he’ll appear on this list.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is rated R. It is streaming on Hoopla, and available for hire everywhere else.
Eyes Wide Shut, 1999
This thriller is actually the very last movie directed by Stanley Kubrick, from 2001, The Shining, and famous Dr. Strangelove. Eyes Wide Shut is more contemplative and sultry than any of the other films on this list – people die, but no one gets shot – and its New York setting at Christmas is irrelevant. But seeing Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in their front row, in a beautifully constructed film by a Hollywood master, is worth at least one viewing. Just prepare to be deranged on a more fundamental level than any rerun of Nightmare Before Christmas – this movie had to be cut a bit to get its R rating.
Eyes Wide Shut is rated R. It’s streaming on Hulu.
The Long Kiss Goodnight, 1996
Hey look, another “Christmas” movie written by Shane Black! This one has a lot in common with The Bourne Identity and other spy thrillers, with the refreshing twist of Geena Davis as the female protagonist. When a car accident shatters her fantasy suburban life with recovered memories of general badassery, she takes off with a private eye to Samuel L. Jackson to learn more about his secret past. The film met lukewarm reviews in 1996, but has since recovered: Sam Jackson says it’s one of his favorites in his absolutely gigantic filmography.
The Long Kiss Goodnight is rated R. It is not currently airing on a subscription service, but it is available for hire.
The Ice Harvest, 2005
A rare and refreshing example of a black Midwest, set on a freezing Christmas night in Kansas. Two thieves (John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton) have just ended their lives, but their getaway is marred by the frozen roads of Wichita. What follows is a mad escape around town, meeting some interesting characters including strip club owner Connie Nielsen and a fun drunk Oliver Platt. It’s not a particularly memorable movie on its own, I’m including it on this list because we need “Christmas” stories that don’t take place in New York or Los Angeles.
The Ice Harvest is rated R. It’s streaming on Peacock.
Iron Man 3, 2013
The only superhero movie on this list is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a reunion between writer and director Shane Black (once again indulging in his love for the holidays) and Robert Downey “I’m Iron Man” Jr. This third entry in the series is the most divisive: Some comic book fans don’t like the way he treats classic villain The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), but I love his twisty story and exploration of stress. Tony Stark’s post-Avengers trauma. The finale is easily the most interesting action piece of any single Iron Man movie.
Iron Man 3 is rated PG-13. It’s streaming on Disney +.
The Last Boy Scout, 1991
This 91 underrated action flick makes the hat trick of this list: Bruce Willis starring (alongside Damon Wayans, yet another private investigator pal) Shane Black writing and a story set in Los Angeles. Oh, and loosely fixed on Christmas, but that really doesn’t matter. The hook is interesting: A football player receives a threatening call that says he has to win the game or he will be assassinated, leading to a shootout on national television. But the meat of the film is the tension between the protagonists, who uncover each other’s pasts as they investigate a conspiracy involving professional sports and government officials. Okay, not really happy, but the pace is great and the finale is purely Hollywood.
The Last Boy Scout is rated R. It’s streaming on Hulu.
Behind Enemy Lines, 2001
There are quite a few movies unrelated to “Behind Enemy Lines” – this one dates from 2001, starring Owen Wilson in a brief attempt at a swinging action. An American fighter pilot is shot down over Bosnia, discovering localized genocide and being shot down by rogue soldiers. Christmas day, nothing less. Once his co-pilot is killed, Wilson must traverse frozen European forests filled with enemies in order to escape and reveal the intrigue. The film is passable but above all forgettable, aside from Gene Hackman playing his typical authority figure. Ignore the sequels – they are only related to the Behind Enemy Lines by name.
Behind Enemy Lines is rated PG-13 and airs on Starz and DirectTV.
In Bruges, 2008
It’s hard to make hitmen relatable, but in a very low-key and very European “Christmas” story, Colin Farrell manages it. After a blow goes bad, his Irish Mafia boss (Ralph Fiennes) tells him to stay low in Bruges (roll credits!), Belgium, where he and his acerbic partner (Brendan Gleeson) watch the whole province. meditating on his depression. In Bruges, it’s not much of a Christmas movie or a gangster movie, but the little character moments in its short duration help make it memorable, and the garland-speckled Gothic landscape is fresh and interesting.
In Bruges is classified R. It is available for rent pretty much everywhere.
Note that the streaming services listed above are based in the United States and with streaming being what it is, they may change depending on what time or where you read this. If you want something that is a little deeper, more definitely Christmas-themed, and a lot more quirky, check out Happy! on Netflix.