Evil is introduced in an unusual manner, in the character of Alan Rickman, a German terrorist. This is an obvious mistake: Americans do not fear & have nothing to fear from German international terrorists, who do not exist. Muslim terrorists are the devil we fear, but they would not serve this story.
This imagination, however, presents himself as a connoisseur of capitalist success, which he mocks in various ways as mindless. This is the nemesis of the bourgeois. Unless the bourgeois is immortal, however, it does exist. The elaboration of this fantasy puts together the worship of success of private life with the reduction of public life to claims about security–anything more ambitious would limit private success…
The display of the bourgeois at his worst is the scene where the undistinguished, skyscraper corporate dude – the Wall Street cocaine addict version of man – tries to negotiate with the terrorist. The terrorist is by turns amused & aroused: Everything he despises about America is confirmed in this weakling & his great desire to destroy America makes him o’erleap himself.
John McClane is listening in on this conversation: The terrorist educates him. Now, McClane has to decide whether this weakling conspiring to his own destruction as he attempts to betray his fellowman for money is worth saving? Christ alone could say yes, but the dude would still die. John McClane, confronted with the self-destruction of liberalism, must find a reason to prevent it. If the most privileged members of our regime, who enjoy notoriety & wealth, are suicidal, who can & who should stop them? Evil, the death of our regime, is what this terrorist showcases.
Everyone who notices John McClane has a sense of humor can see that this is the real joke, when once you wrap your head around it: The terrorist is a caricature, a comic equivalent of our self-destruction. Hence all the grandstanding, the love of money, & the pettiness. He is the worst in our souls, reversing everything about us: Shameless about everything about which we feel shame; public about our private matters; acting on our imaginations.
The corporate cokehead was the worst in us as well, but he stands for desire as shown by the terrorist, who stands for anger. John McClane must see the soul of the liberal fall to pieces in a time of crisis & somehow put it back together. It is our good luck that he loves his wife & wants her back, or else we should have been destroyed. I suppose it is an unremarkable suggestion, that the hostages stand for the audience… If liberalism is still able to put together desire & spiritedness, if barely, this might merely mean, however, that there is a loophole in the self-destruction of liberalism.