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Die Hard (1988)

R  |   |  Action, Thriller  |  20 July 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 540,775 users   Metascore: 70/100
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John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Top 250 Movies #120 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Al Powell (as Reginald Veljohnson)
Bruno Doyon ...
Joey Plewa ...


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 bank 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


It will blow you through the back wall of the theater! See more »


Action | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



| |

Release Date:

20 July 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Duro de matar  »

Box Office


$28,000,000 (estimated)


$81,350,242 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints) (4 channels)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was based on a book by Roderick Thorp entitled "Nothing Lasts Forever" - a sequel to another book entitled "The Detective", which in 1968 was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra. Because of a clause in Sinatra's contract for The Detective (1968) which gave him the right to reprise his role in a sequel, he was actually the first person offered the McClane role, even though he was 73 years old at the time. Also, Coincidentally, Bruce Willis made his movie debut in The First Deadly Sin (1980) walking out of a bar as Sinatra walks into it. See more »


Trim on the rear doors of Al's patrol car disappears and changes style. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in Let's Be Cops (2014) See more »


Christmas in Hollis
Written by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell
Performed by Run-D.M.C.
Courtesy of Profile Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

You'll "Die Hard" with this action-lover's action movie
4 January 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.


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