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Die Hard (1988)

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.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #123 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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

Taglines:

40 Storeys High - with Suspense, Excitement and Adventure on every level! See more »

Genres:

Action | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

20 July 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Duro de matar  »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of John McClane had not been fully realized until almost half way through production when John McTiernan and Bruce Willis decided that he was a man who did not like himself very much, but was doing the best he could in a bad situation. See more »

Goofs

The elevators are locked from the ground floor to floor 29 before all the terrorists get up to the party floor. It seems doubtful all of them walked up 29 floors. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Friends: The One with Chandler in a Box (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
(uncredited)
Written by James Pierpont
Whistled by Bruce Willis
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
One seized tower block, one sweaty vest and one big set of action cojones.
31 December 2010 | by See all my reviews

Based on ex cop Roderick Thorpe's 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard, directed by John McTiernan, changed the face of the action movie. Starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald Veljohnson, Alexander Godunov, William Atherton & Paul Gleason, McTiernan's movie went on to make over $100 million in profit at the box office alone. Spawning three equally successful sequels (at the time of writing), it began a franchise that showed that if done well, the action movie could be a dominant force in the world of cinema.

The set up is relatively simple, Willis plays New York cop John McLane who during the Christmas holidays is in L.A. to visit his estranged wife Holly (Bedelia). She works for the Japanese Corporation of Nakatomi, and currently she's attending the company Christmas party up on the 30th floor of the humongous Nakatomi Plaza tower block. Bad day at the office because a group of apparent German terrorists, led by the charismatic Hans Gruber (Rickman), take the whole building hostage: with one exception; McLane, who evades capture and launches a one man war against the terrorists.

What follows is just over two hours of high octane action, smart dialogue and technical smarts. McTiernan had already endeared himself to the action movie fan with the ball busting beef stew that was Predator in 87, a fact not lost on Die Hard's co producer Joel Silver, who clearly knew that McTiernan could smoothly shift the action from the Val Verde jungle to the urban jungle of L.A. And he did. Next was to get the right man for McLane. Richard Gere was first choice but passed, so the makers took a gamble on Willis, whose career was at a standstill after his leap from TV show Moonlighting on to the big screen with the likes of Blind Date & Sunset barely making a ripple in Hollywood. The rest for Willis, as they say, is history. McLane is an everyman hero, streetwise, even slobbish, but identifiable to many with his work ethics, desperate heroics and emotional vulnerability. Willis attacks the role with a hunger rarely seen from the big male earners in filmdom. During the two hours and ten minute running time of Die Hard, Willis as McLane changed the face of the action hero for ever; even making a dirty white vest iconic in the process; the latter of which couples nicely with the hero being bare footed throughout for a nifty bit of writing.

Across the board the casting is flawless, Bedelia is spunky and driven, a woman worth fighting for. Veljohnson as beat copper Al Powell-McLane's walkie-talkie buddy and only link to the outside world-is memorable because it feels real, he has his own issue gnawing away at him, but his exchanges with Willis keeps the humanity grounded as the carnage unfolds. Gleason & Atherton are wonderfully anal as Deputy Police Chief and TV Reporter respectively, while Hart Bochner as Ellis dishes out one of the best weasel turns to have ever graced a movie featuring corporate suit types. But as Die Hard resembles the great Westerns of yesteryear, much like the great Oaters, Die Hard could only be as good as its chief villain. As Willis' McLane ushered in a new action hero to copy, Rickman's uber intelligent villain set a new benchmark.

Snappily dressed, well versed and as charming as they come, Gruber in Rickman's hands is a villain you could quite easily root for! That's further testament to Willis' turn that Rickman doesn't walk away with the movie, both men are from different sides of the fence, good and evil, yet both are characters you can hang your hat on. Quite a trick from McTiernan that. Rickman is ably supported by the scary Godunov as right hand man Karl and Clarence Gilyard Jr. as the cold hearted Theo. Elsewhere the impact of Robert Davi & Grand L. Bush as the two cocksure FBI agents Johnson & Johnson (no relation) should not be underestimated. All the actors, of course, are indebted to the sizzling script by Steven E. de Souza & Jeb Stuart. So to is praise due to photographer Jan de Bont, who in collaboration with McTiernan, produces a camera work lesson for action movies, as the camera swoops in and around the tower, down elevator shafts and up tilt to roofs; with the fight scenes afforded a spatial sheen not expected in the confines of a tower block setting (the film was actually shot at 20th Century Fox's own 2121 Fox Plaza). Even the scoring from Michael Kamen and the sound tracking are of a high standard; check out the various "mood" uses of Beethoven's Ode to Joy from Symphony No.9 and Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major: Brilliant.

The 80s was well served by action movies with the likes of Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop proving massively popular. But just as Raiders Of The Lost Ark changed the game for action/adventure, so too did Die Hard. It's now the benchmark movie for action, a film that unlike Hills Cop & Lethal Weapon remarkably shows no signs of ageing either. It's no monkey in the wrench or a fly in the ointment, it's the daddy, and the one that all other action movies have to answer to. 10/10


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