Die Hard (1988)

R   |    |  Action, Thriller


Die Hard (1988) Poster

An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.


8.2/10
748,753

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  • John McTiernan in Die Hard (1988)
  • Alan Rickman and Bonnie Bedelia in Die Hard (1988)
  • Alan Rickman and Bonnie Bedelia in Die Hard (1988)
  • Bruce Willis and Jan de Bont in Die Hard (1988)
  • Bruce Willis and Andreas Wisniewski in Die Hard (1988)
  • Bruce Willis in Die Hard (1988)

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4 January 2005 | dee.reid
10
| You'll "Die Hard" with this action-lover's action movie
One could claim that 1988's "Die Hard" is one of the most influential action movies ever made because it basically revolutionized one of the most copied (but never matched, at least in terms of quality) formulas: a loner, by some unique twist of fate, battles it out with an "x" number of terrorists in an enclosed environment.

By the time that "Die Hard" was released, the action movies were most often dominated by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Chuck Norris. Star Bruce Willis, whose only notable credits at the time were television's "Moonlighting" and 1987's "Blind Date," which was released the year before, was the unlikeliest of them all.

Willis was a wild card - an unlikely choice for the role of our hero "John McClane" - since he didn't have any action credits on his resume' and let's face it: Bruce Willis just didn't have the bulging biceps required for a role like this. But that's the beauty of his performance in this movie: he's an everyday guy, caught in a not-so-everyday situation.

On Christmas, McClane's estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) invites him from New York all the way out to Los Angeles to spend the holidays with the family. But it requires him to make a stop at the Nakatomi offices, which is having an after-hours Christmas party. Riding for the first time in a limo, he's introduced to the suave driver, Argyle (De'voreaux White), who gives him some pretty useful advice on trying to win over the wife.

At Nakatomi, things of course get off to a rough start for McClane, as he gets into an argument with the wife and is left to wallow in his misery. However, those problems are about to take a backseat to the real "party" - twelve terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (all-purpose bad guy Alan Rickman, perfectly cast) - seize control of the building and proceed to rob the Nakatomi building of its assets, most of which include negotiable bonds and other valuables. But they didn't count on the "fly in the ointment" (pain in the a**) to make things hell for these so-called party crashers.

Certainly one of the best known action movies ever, "Die Hard" did receive the scorn of critics upon its 1988 summer release, but the audiences sung a completely different tune.

The film was most often praised for the production, with the brand-new Fox Plaza office tower serving as the fictional Nakatomi building. It was also praised for the energetic and skillful direction of John McTiernan, whose most notable credit was the action-sci-fi thriller "Predator," which was released the year before and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bruce Willis was the perfect actor for this performance, since he brings the wit and vulnerability to a role like this one. If Stallone or Schwarzenegger were in this movie, I'm sure the effect would have been a lot different.

Personally, I think "Die Hard" is one of the greatest action movies ever, up there close to my favorite action movie of all time, "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Like Indiana Jones in that film, "Die Hard" had an Everyman cast in the role; McClane, like Indiana Jones, wasn't a larger-than-life musclebound grotesque: he was a real guy that you cared about, who got hurt, and had real feelings.

That's why I think both of these movies have sort of stood the test of time as becoming what they are best known for today: action classics, and they're here to stay, ladies and gentlemen.

10/10

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The entire Nakatomi building was supposed to be managed by a supercomputer and the scenes where McClane is trapped in an office and Gruber orders the windows to be shot out are supposed to be the computer room. The large dark object is the computer, modeled after an ETA-10 supercomputer. It is a model and a bit larger than the actual computer which was thought to look too small. The fiberglass model was later used by ETA as part of the marketing for the ETA range of supercomputers.


Quotes

Businessman: You don't like flying, do you?
John McClane: What gives you that idea?
Businessman: You wanna know the secret to surviving air travel? After you get where you're going, take off your shoes and your socks then walk around on the rug bare foot and make fists with your toes.
John McClane: ...
Businessman: ...


Goofs

In the beginning, while at the party, it's mentioned the time is 5:40 p.m. on Christmas Eve. While Argyle is driving John to Holly's work site at presumably the same time, it is very much daylight. In LA, on Christmas Eve at that time, it would be dark already.


Crazy Credits

In the widescreen version, the 20th Century Fox logo is stretched.


Alternate Versions

In the German dub of the movie, the German terrorists were given English names, for example Hans Gruber became "Jack Gruber", Karl became Charlie, Heinrich became Henry etc. In the scene where McClane writes down the names Hans and Karl on his forearm, we hear him say. "I'm gonna call you Hans and Karl, just like the 2 evil giants in the fairy tale." Later on, he still refers to them as Jack and Charlie.


Soundtracks

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
(uncredited)
Written by
Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
Hummed by Reginald VelJohnson

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Thriller

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