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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Alan Rickman: A Tribute
by Richard Jack Smith

Alan Rickman passed away on Thursday, January 14, 2016. He was sixty nine years old. I will always remember movies like Die Hard, The January Man, Quigley Down Under, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Galaxy Quest because of Rickman.

Born on February 21, 1946, Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was a phenomenal star of stage and screen. However, his big break came relatively late. He was 42 when Die Hard made headlines. It was an exciting production that remains something of a benchmark for action filmmaking.

John McTiernan’s picture worked largely due to Rickman’s contribution. After all, you cannot have a good genre film without a great villain. He took the role of Hans Gruber, the terrorist in a Los Angeles high-rise, to sophisticated extremes. I’d say he reinvented the modern cinematic baddie as we know it. From the moment he first appears, iconic close-ups carry all the pent-up rage and mischief of a troublemaker. Yet he achieves this connection with the audience via remarkable restraint. It’s all in the eyes.

Observe how chilling he comes across when confronting his first victim. While a rattlesnake can give plenty of warning to its prey, so can Rickman. Also, his banter over the radio with John McClane (Bruce Willis) results in numerous comedic references, especially regarding Roy Rogers. Despite earning four Oscar nominations, Die Hard missed a much deserved nod for Rickman in Best Supporting Actor. What a shame.

Moving along, I have similar feelings regarding Rickman's work as Elliott Marston in Quigley Down Under and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Luckily, the British Academy recognised the latter with a BAFTA award. Among the fantastic one-liners Rickman rips through include:

“Cancel Christmas!”

 “That’s my wife crone”

 “Join us or die.”

“You. My room 10:30. You. 10:45. Bring a friend!”

In Galaxy Quest, Rickman played Alexander, a classically trained Shakespearean actor whose sole calling card was a Star Trek spin-off. He just hates uttering the words “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged.” This could run the risk of one joke monotony. Not so for Rickman, whose comedic genius passes the durability test with flying colours. Adding to which, his humour could break the ice, leaving us in suspense for the next punchline.

Overall, Rickman’s legacy stretches across a fertile period in American cinema, and I will miss him greatly.

Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

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