published Thursday, February 14th, 2013

In Tune: Cinema's best love letters signed with a bullet

Today is Feb. 14, so you know what that means. That's right, today marks the release of "A Good Day To Die Hard," the fifth entry in the series that launched Bruce Willis' career as an action superstar.

Well, yes, it's also Valentine's Day, but I would argue that "Die Hard" was ultimately just about a guy trying to reconnect with his wife. So this year, I'm praising five other action flicks in which, to bastardize Bon Jovi, a shot through the heart gives love a good name.

5. "Spider-Man." Forget the crazy-pants plot of "Spider-Man 3." The first film's upside-down kiss between the titular webslinger (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) in a rainy alleyway ranks as one of the most memorable cinematic kisses ever.

4. "True Lies." After revealing his secret life as a spy to his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis), Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lands in the doghouse. Is his response a box of chocolates or an offer to attend couples therapy? Nope. Instead, while hanging from a helicopter — do we sense a trend here? — Harry rescues her from a runaway limo about to plummet into the ocean. Naturally, she forgives him and accepts who he really is, later becoming a spy herself.

3. "Django Unchained." Freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) blows a gaping hole through Southern plantation country on a blood quest to rescue his still-enslaved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Nothing says "I care for you" like torturing hate mongers.

2. "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back." Just before his supposedly fatal dip into liquid carbonite, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) finally breaks down and kisses Princess Leia. As the machine begins to whir, she blurts out, "I love you," and being a roguish smuggler, he responds with one of the best ad-libbed lines in cinema: "I know." Cue geeky weeping.

1. "Matrix Reloaded." After embracing his role as The One, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is given a choice: save his true love, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), or save humanity. He opts for door No. 2 — literally — and flies off at supersonic speed, arriving a split second too late. "No problem," he thinks, "I'll just reach into her chest and massage her freaking heart back to life." Flowers just can't match that.

See? Action and romance aren't always estranged. Sometimes, they make the best bedfellows. If you have your own favorites, email me, and we'll compare notes.

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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