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Die Hard (1988)

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0:32 | Trailer
John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director:

John McTiernan

Writers:

Roderick Thorp (novel), Jeb Stuart (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
94 ( 85)
Top Rated Movies #121 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Willis ... John McClane
Bonnie Bedelia ... Holly Gennaro McClane
Reginald VelJohnson ... Sgt. Al Powell (as Reginald Veljohnson)
Paul Gleason ... Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson
William Atherton ... Richard Thornburg
Hart Bochner ... Harry Ellis
James Shigeta ... Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi
Alan Rickman ... Hans Gruber
Alexander Godunov ... Karl
Bruno Doyon Bruno Doyon ... Franco
De'voreaux White ... Argyle
Andreas Wisniewski ... Tony
Clarence Gilyard Jr. ... Theo
Joey Plewa Joey Plewa ... Alexander
Lorenzo Caccialanza ... Marco
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Storyline

NYPD cop John McClane goes on a Christmas vacation to visit his wife Holly in Los Angeles where she works for the Nakatomi Corporation. While they are at the Nakatomi headquarters for a Christmas party, a group of robbers led by Hans Gruber take control of the building and hold everyone hostage, with the exception of John, while they plan to perform a lucrative heist. Unable to escape and with no immediate police response, John is forced to take matters into his own hands. Written by Sam

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Twelve terrorists. One cop. The odds are against John McClane... That's just the way he likes it. See more »

Genres:

Action | Thriller

Certificate:

16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Italian | Japanese

Release Date:

3 November 1988 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Duro de matar See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$601,851, 17 July 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$83,008,852

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$140,767,956
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints) (4 channels)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Gleason and producer Joel Silver have both worked with the late writer-director John Hughes. Hughes directed Gleason in The Breakfast Club (1985) and She's Having a Baby (1988). Silver had produced Weird Science (1985) which John Hughes wrote and directed. See more »

Goofs

When John and Karl are fighting, Karl shoots John in the back. Later when John jumps over Karl the shot from behind does not show any blood. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
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: Fists with your toes?
Businessman: I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Trust me, I've been doing it for nine years. Yes sir, better than a shower and a hot cup of coffee.
John McClane: Okay.
[the businessman sees John's gun]
John McClane: It's okay, I'm a cop. Trust me, I've been ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The foreign languages used by the terrorists (mostly German) have been fixed for the remastered Special Edition VHS version. The grammar is now correct in almost all places. The only sequences in which the grammar and pronunciation are still poor are Hans Gruber's dialogs. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Take the Tower: Episode #1.5 (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Skeletons
Written and Performed by Stevie Wonder
Courtesy of Motown Record Corp.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The Perfect Modern Action Film
31 July 2001 | by MadReviewerSee all my reviews

"Die Hard" is the prototype type for the modern action film. Since it's also one of the best action films ever made, that happens to be a very good thing. "Die Hard" is lean, mean, and doesn't contain a single second of wasted screen time. The direction, the action, the story, the acting . . . every aspect of this film comes close to big-budget action movie perfection. Since "Die Hard" was first released in 1988, it's difficult to think of a blockbuster action film that doesn't follow the basic structure and format of "Die Hard" . . . or, for that matter, is better than "Die Hard".

"Die Hard" is about John McClane (Bruce Willis, in one of his all-time best film performances), a basically good, honest New York cop with a penchant for annoying authority figures. Traveling to Los Angeles in a last ditch attempt to patch things up with his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), John McClane suddenly finds himself involved in a hostage situation. Terrorists, led by the enigmatic Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), have taken over the office building in which Holly is working, and with Gruber holding the upper hand over the LAPD and FBI forces in Los Angeles, it's up to John McClane to save the day . . . .

Kudos should be given to both director John McTiernan and screenwriters Jeb Stuart and Steven DeSouza -- the film is tight, electrifying, and clever, which is something few action films can ever claim. The story isn't completely believable, but it's believable enough, and it manages to move along at a quick enough pace to where the most glaring plotholes can easily be glossed over. There's also enough twists and wrinkles thrown into the story to keep the audience guessing as to what's going to happen next . . . and the surprises don't come out of left field, but are actually clever and well thought-out. (The fact that McClane often relies on his brains instead of his bullets to get out of his predicaments is also a big plus.) Simply put, "Die Hard" is one of the smartest and savviest action screenplays ever written. McTiernan holds up his end of the film admirably as well -- he uses the claustrophobic nature of the office building to great effect (particularly in any scene involving an elevator shaft), and he keeps the film rolling at a rollercoaster pace, building up the anticipation of the audience before unleashing the action. A lot of recent action films just fly along at a mindless, breakneck pace, without ever allowing the story to breathe or the suspense to build . . . unlike those films, "Die Hard" knows how to maximize the impact of each and every scene, and that's why it stands out so clearly from them all. With "Die Hard", John McTiernan puts on a perfect clinic as to how to pace an action movie.

As for the acting, it's darn near close to perfect. Bruce Willis is awesome as John McClane. As played by Willis, McClane's a smartass with a distinct disdain for being given orders . . . but McClane's also clever, and knows how to keep cool under pressure. There's more to McClane than the stereotypical tough guy hero. Fortunately, the role was given to Bruce Willis, who infuses McClane with the perfect mix of cocky arrogance and stone-cold heroism. The fact that Willis plays McClane as a man often in disbelief of his own situation, and who struggles in his fight against bad guys instead of just killing bad guys with ease, like most stereotypical action heroes -- well, not only does it make the character much more believable, it's darn brilliant. (The fact that Willis also knows how to deliver a deadpan one-liner better than anybody else in Hollywood makes the character all the better.) There's only a handful of movies where both character and actor are a completely perfect match; Bruce Willis as John McClane is one such perfect match.

Also worthy of mention is Alan Rickman's performance as the villain Hans Gruber. The Machiavellian Gruber would've been an easy villain to turn into little more than a scenery-chewing Bond villain . . . fortunately, Rickman doesn't travel the easy route. Gruber, as played by Rickman, is cold and calculating, and actually acts smart, instead of merely claiming to be smart and then being thoroughly outwitted by the hero. He always appears to have an ace hidden up his sleeve, and is so convincing at giving this impression, it's hard to tell throughout the film whether he or McClane truly have the upper hand. Other actors probably could've played Gruber fairly well, but Rickman makes Gruber one of the all-time great villains. As for the rest of the cast, they're all pretty good. Bonnie Bedelia does a nice job as John's soon-to-be-ex-wife Holly -- she plays her with enough smarts and feistiness to break the usual "damsel in distress" mold. It's also worth mentioning that Paul Gleason, who plays the obstinate police chief Robinson, pretty much sets up the modern action movie stereotype of the authority figure who refuses to heed the advice of the maverick hero. The character is stupid to a fault, and he's wonderful because of it.

"Die Hard" is a terrific example of what happens when all the pieces of a film fall together perfectly. There simply are no weak spots or dull moments in the film. Is "Die Hard" one of the best overall movies ever made? Probably not. But it's undeniably one of the best action movies ever made, and it just might well be the perfect modern action film. Grade: A


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