IMDb > Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard
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Die Hard (1988) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 66 | slideshow) Videos (see all 3)
Die Hard -- New York cop John McClane gives terrorists a dose of their own medicine as they hold hostages in an LA office building.
Die Hard -- New York cop John McClane gives terrorists a dose of their own medicine as they hold hostages in an LA office building.

Overview

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8.3/10   452,345 votes »
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Down 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers (WGA):
Roderick Thorp (novel)
Jeb Stuart (screenplay) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Die Hard on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
22 July 1988 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
It will blow you through the back wall of the theater! See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
The Perfect Modern Action Film See more (676 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Bruce Willis ... Officer 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 ... Franco

De'voreaux White ... Argyle

Andreas Wisniewski ... Tony

Clarence Gilyard Jr. ... Theo
Joey Plewa ... Alexander

Lorenzo Caccialanza ... Marco
Gérard Bonn ... Kristoff (as Gerard Bonn)

Dennis Hayden ... Eddie

Al Leong ... Uli
Gary Roberts ... Heinrich

Hans Buhringer ... Fritz
Wilhelm von Homburg ... James

Robert Davi ... FBI Special Agent Big Johnson

Grand L. Bush ... FBI Agent Little Johnson
Bill Marcus ... City Engineer
Rick Ducommun ... Walt, City Worker

Matt Landers ... Capt. Mitchell
Carmine Zozzora ... Rivers
Dustyn Taylor ... Ginny

George Christy ... Dr. Hasseldorf
Anthony Peck ... Young Cop
Cheryl Baker ... Woman
Richard Parker ... Man
David Ursin ... Harvey Johnson
Mary Ellen Trainor ... Gail Wallens
Diana James ... Police Supervisor
Shelley Pogoda ... Dispatcher
Selma Archerd ... Hostage
Scot Bennett ... Hostage

Rebecca Broussard ... Hostage
Kate Finlayson ... Hostage
Shanna Higgins ... Hostage
Kym Malin ... Hostage

Taylor Fry ... Lucy McClane
Noah Land ... John McClane Jr.
Betty Carvalho ... Paulina
Kip Waldo ... Convenience Store Clerk
Mark Goldstein ... Station Manager

Tracy Reiner ... Thornburg's Assistant
Rick Cicetti ... Guard

Fred Lerner ... Guard

Bill Margolin ... Producer

Bob Jennings ... Cameraman
Bruce P. Schultz ... Cameraman
David Katz ... Soundman
Robert Lesser ... Businessman
Stella Hall ... Stewardess
Terri Lynn Doss ... Girl at Airport
Jon E. Greene ... Boy at Airport
P. Randall Bowers ... Kissing Man
Michele Laybourn ... Girl in Window
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rick Bross ... Cameraman (uncredited)
Marshall Dancing Elk Lucas ... Police Officer (uncredited)

Charlie Picerni ... Dwayne T. Robinson's Driver (uncredited)
Gary Pinkston ... Hostage (uncredited)

Mark Winn ... Police Detective (uncredited)
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Directed by
John McTiernan 
 
Writing credits
(WGA)
Roderick Thorp (novel "Nothing Lasts Forever")

Jeb Stuart (screenplay) and
Steven E. de Souza (screenplay)

Produced by
Charles Gordon .... executive producer
Lawrence Gordon .... producer
Beau Marks .... associate producer (as Beau E.L. Marks)
Joel Silver .... producer
Lloyd Levin .... associate producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Michael Kamen 
 
Cinematography by
Jan de Bont  (as Jan De Bont)
 
Film Editing by
John F. Link 
Frank J. Urioste 
 
Casting by
Jackie Burch 
 
Production Design by
Jackson De Govia  (as Jackson DeGovia)
 
Art Direction by
John R. Jensen 
 
Set Decoration by
Philip Leonard  (as Phil M. Leonard)
 
Costume Design by
Marilyn Vance  (as Marilyn Vance-Straker)
 
Makeup Department
Paul Abascal .... hair stylist
Wes Dawn .... makeup artist
Scott H. Eddo .... makeup supervisor
Jim Kail .... makeup artist
Josée Normand .... hair stylist: Bruce Willis (as Josee Normand)
 
Production Management
Beau Marks .... unit production manager (as Beau E.L. Marks)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Paula Foster .... dga trainee
Michael Alan Kahn .... second second assistant director
Beau Marks .... second unit director (as Beau E.L. Marks)
Terry Miller .... second assistant director (as Terry Miller Jr.)
Benjamin Rosenberg .... first assistant director
 
Art Department
Mike Blaze .... assistant property master (as Michael Blaze)
Richard Boris .... set dresser
Mike Bruner .... set dresser
Steve Callas .... construction foreman
E.C. Chen .... set designer
William J. Durrell Jr. .... assistant art director
Craig Edgar .... assistant art director
Bill Fannon Jr. .... lead man
Gus Feederle .... set dresser
Bruce J. Gfeller .... construction coordinator
Dick Girod .... construction paint foreman
Efrain Gonzalez .... set dresser
Roland E. Hill Jr. .... set designer (as Roland Hill)
Jaymes Hinkle .... production painter (as Jimmy Jay Hinkle)
John L. Jensen .... illustrator
Kirk B. Jones .... set dresser
Don Kaeding .... set dresser (as Donald Kaeding)
Steve Nelson .... set dresser
Tommy Tomlinson .... property master
Clete Cetrone .... construction foreman (uncredited)
Michael Denering .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Kacy Magedman .... art department coordinator (uncredited)
William L. Pereira .... architect: Fox Plaza (uncredited)
Victor M. Shannon .... plasterer (uncredited)
Robert Van Dyke .... propmaker foreman (uncredited)
Frank White .... laborer (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Vanessa Theme Ament .... foley artist (as Vanessa Ament)
George H. Anderson .... supervising dialogue editor (as George Anderson)
Kevin Barlia .... assistant dialogue editor
Ron Bartlett .... foley editor
Don J. Bassman .... sound re-recording mixer (as Don Bassman)
Destiny Borden .... assistant sound editor
Sherrie Bayer Burke .... assistant adr editor
Kevin E. Carpenter .... adr mixer (as Kevin Carpenter)
Kevin F. Cleary .... sound re-recording mixer
Phyllis Drury .... machine operator
Stephen Hunter Flick .... sound effects (as Stephen H. Flick)
David W. Gray .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby (as David Gray)
Robin Harlan .... foley artist
Craig Heath .... sound recordist
Dennis Jones .... boom operator
Cindy Marty .... dialogue editor
Rick Mitchell .... foley editor
Oscar Mitt .... assistant sound editor
Al Overton Jr. .... sound mixer (as Al Overton)
Richard Overton .... sound re-recording mixer
Todd Overton .... cable person
Matthew Peerce .... apprentice adr editor
Robert Renga .... sound recordist
Lisa M. Risen .... apprentice adr editor
Dennis Rogers .... adr recordist
Jeff Rosen .... dialogue editor
Hank Salerno .... supervising adr editor
Norman B. Schwartz .... post-production dialogue
Catherine Shorr .... sound effects editor
Richard Shorr .... sound effects
James Simcik .... adr editor (as James R. Simcik)
Ronald Sinclair .... adr editor
David E. Stone .... sound effects editor (as David Stone)
Lee Tinkham .... foley mixer
Bill Voigtlander .... adr editor
Rosemarie Wheeler .... assistant adr editor
Ezra Dweck .... sound effects recordist (uncredited)
Bill Henderson .... sound re-recording engineer (uncredited)
Richard Shorr .... supervising sound editor (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
William Aldridge .... special effects foreman
Jay Bartus .... special effects assistant
Hal Bigger .... special effects assistant
James Camomile .... special effects assistant
Larry DeUnger .... special effects assistant
Al Di Sarro .... special effects coordinator
Dennis Dion .... special effects assistant
Patrick R. Gordon .... special effects transportation
Jay M. Hirsch .... special effects assistant (as Jay Hirsch)
Daniel Hutten .... effects technician: Boss
Thaine Morris .... special effects foreman: Boss
Darrell Pritchett .... special effects assistant (as Darrill Pritchett)
Joe D. Ramsey .... special effects assistant (as Joe Ramsey)
Andrew Sebok .... special effects assistant
Steve Suits .... special effects assistant
Rick Thompson .... special effects assistant (as Richard L. Thompson)
Michael A. Tice .... special effects assistant
Bruno Van Zeebroeck .... special effects assistant
Gene Whiteman .... chief engineer: Boss
Richard Zarro .... special effects assistant
Tad Krzanowski .... model effects: ILM (uncredited)
Sam Longoria .... effects technician: Boss (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Yarek Alfer .... model maker: Boss (as Jarek Alfer)
Maura Alvarez .... animation production assistant: Boss
Brent Boates .... visual effects art director: Boss
Richard Chronister .... model electronics: Boss
Kevin Clark .... optical line-up: Boss
Albert Cox .... optical supervisor 'Die Hard': Boss (as Al Cox)
Philip Crescenzo .... chief electronics engineer: Boss Film
Richard Edlund .... visual effects producer
Alan K.M. Faucher .... stand-by model maker: Boss (as Alan Faucher)
Donald Fly .... chief financial officer: Boss Film (as Donald R. Fly)
Meg Freeman .... animation production assistant: Boss
Kento Gebo .... model maker: Boss (as Kent Gebo)
Ron Gress .... model painter: Boss
Robert L. Johnston .... model effects key man: Boss (as Robert Johnston)
Larry Jolly .... model helicopter consultant: Boss
Kelly Kerby .... stage assistant: Boss
Lisa Krepela .... animation production assistant: Boss
Bruce MacRae .... model maker: Boss
Pat McClung .... chief model maker: Boss (as Patrick McClung)
Dennis Michelson .... visual effects editor: Boss
Bill Neil .... director of photography: Boss (as William Neil)
Clint Palmer .... camera operator: Boss Film Studios (as Clinton Palmer)
Samuel E. Recinos .... technical animation supervisor: Boss (as Samuel Recinos)
Chris Regan .... optical department supervisor: Boss
Milius Romyn .... model construction foreman: Boss
Paul Sabourin .... model effects: Boss
Suzie Schneider .... model maker: Boss (as Suzy Schneider)
Dennis Schultz .... model maker: Boss
David Schwartz .... chief miniature moldmaker: Boss
James Sleeper .... optical camera operator: Boss
Mark Stetson .... model shop supervisor: Boss
Michael Van Himbergen .... visual effects coordinator
Garry Waller .... special project supervisor: Boss
Debra Wolff .... assistant visual effects editor: Boss
Peter Yanovitch .... optical line-up: Boss
Dana Yuricich .... model maker: Boss
Matthew Yuricich .... chief matte artist: Boss
James G. Anka .... model maker (uncredited)
Wayne Baker .... first assistant camera operator: Boss Films (uncredited)
Mike Chambers .... visual effects coordinator (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Kenny Bates .... stunts (as Ken Bates)
Janet Brady .... stunts
Nick Brett .... stunts
Jophery C. Brown .... stunts (as Jophery Brown)
Kurt Bryant .... stunts
Brian Christensen .... stunts
Gilbert B. Combs .... stunts (as Gil Combs)
Kerrie Cullen .... stunts
Kenny Endoso .... stunts
Andy Epper .... stunts (as Andrew Epper)
Randy Hall .... stunts
Norman Howell .... stunts
Keii Johnston .... stunts
Henry Kingi .... stunts (as Henry M. Kingi)
Julius LeFlore .... stunts (as Julius Le Flore)
Fred Lerner .... stunts
Mike Marasco .... stunts (as Michael Marasco)
Don Charles McGovern .... stunts (as Don McGovern)
John Meier .... stunts
Alan Oliney .... stunts
Victor Paul .... stunts
Chuck Picerni Jr. .... stunts (as Charles Picerni Jr.)
Paul V. Picerni Jr. .... stunts
Charlie Picerni .... stunt coordinator (as Charles Picerni)
Steve Picerni .... stunts
Bernie Pock .... stunts
Chad Randall .... stunts
R.A. Rondell .... stunts
Benjamin Rosenberg .... stunts
John Sherrod .... stunts
Russell Solberg .... stunts
Steve Vandeman .... stunts
George P. Wilbur .... stunts (as George Wilbur)
Glenn R. Wilder .... stunts (as Glenn Wilder)
Dick Ziker .... stunts
Keii Johnston .... stunt double: Mr. Willis (uncredited)
Don Charles McGovern .... stunt double: Alexander Godunov (uncredited)
Steve Ray .... stunt driver (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Brian W. Armstrong .... assistant camera (as Brian Armstrong)
Ed Ayer .... gaffer
Brink Brydon .... electrician
Brad Chelesvig .... musco light operator
Blaise Dahlquist .... best boy
Glen Davis .... dolly grip (as Glenn 'Bear' Davis)
Bill Decker .... key grip (as William E. Decker III)
Mike DeMeyer .... musco light operator
John Donnelly .... best boy grip
John J. Ellingwood .... assistant camera (as John Ellingwood)
Michael Ferris .... camera operator
Michael Franz .... best boy
M. Todd Henry .... camera operator
Steven C. Hodge .... electrician
Brian Holechek .... grip (as Brian Joe Holechek)
Robert Isenberg .... still photographer (as Bob Isenberg)
Ron Kunecke .... musco light operator
Michael R. Marquette .... assistant camera
Virgil Mirano .... still photographer: Boss
Matthew Nelson .... grip
Jim Rankin .... grip
Bernie Schwartz .... best boy grip
Michael Scott .... camera operator
Peter Sorel .... still photographer
Roger Spurgeon .... musco light operator
Patrick Van Auken .... key grip: Boss
Stefanie Wiseman .... first assistant camera: Boss
Doug Yonker .... electrician
Les Zell .... assistant camera
Thomas Enright .... electrician (uncredited)
Ken Fisher .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Patricia Gregory .... grip (uncredited)
Nicholas S. McLean .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Ferne Cassel .... casting associate
Carl Joy .... extras casting
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Barry Francis Delaney .... costume supervisor (as Barry Delaney)
Charles Mercuri .... costumer: Bruce Willis
Barbara Siebert .... set costumer: women (as Barbara Siebert Bolticoff)
Victoria Snow .... additional costumer
Michael Voght .... set costumer: men (as Michael J. Voght)
 
Editorial Department
Derek Brechin .... assistant editor (as Derek G. Brechin)
Gary Burritt .... negative cutter
Bryan H. Carroll .... assistant editor (as Bryan Carroll)
Gregory M. Gerlich .... assistant editor
Dale E. Grahn .... color timer (as Dale Grahn)
Jeff Gullo .... second assistant editor
Bob Hagans .... color timer
Paul Jenson .... negative developer: Boss
Edward Malone .... second assistant editor
Kelly Irvine .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Bruce Babcock .... additional orchestrator
Chris Boardman .... additional orchestrator
Walt Borchers .... score engineer
Christopher Brooks .... supervising music editor
Terry Brown .... score engineer
Chuck Garsha .... score engineer
Philip Giffin .... additional orchestrator
Michael Kamen .... conductor
Stephen McLaughlin .... music producer (as Stephen E. McLaughlin)
Armin Steiner .... score mixer
Fiachra Trench .... additional orchestrator (as Fi Trench)
Bruce Babcock .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Tom Boyd .... musician: oboe soloist (uncredited)
Tommy Johnson .... musician: tuba (uncredited)
James Thatcher .... musician: french horn (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Myra Hill .... transportation coordinator (as Myra L. Hill)
Dean E. Mason .... transportation captain (as Dean Mason)
James Nordberg .... transportation captain (as Jim Nordberg)
Stanley R. Webber .... picture car coordinator (as Stanley Webber)
Tim Sisson .... picture car mechanic (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Pamela Alessandrelli .... assistant: John Mctiernan
Alex Algarin .... dubbing projectionist
Brook Altman .... production assistant
Bobby Bass .... special weapons training
Susan Joy Beallor .... assistant: Joel Silver
Dan Carroll .... location liaison
Paul Chaleff .... special ceramic vessels
Rick Chavez .... craft service
Jack Crain .... knife designer and manufacturer (as Jack W. Crain)
Keith Cubba .... trainer: Bruce Willis
Jyllel Syage Dickerman .... assistant production accountant (as Jyllel Syage)
Ken Dudderar .... precision cinetechnician: Boss
Riley Kathryn Ellis .... production executive
Robert Eyslee .... chief lighting tech: Boss
Marilynn B. Frank .... first aid
Art Fransen .... police technical advisor
Elizabeth Galloway .... production coordinator
Gary Goldman .... technical advisor: military (as L. Gary Goldman)
Aaron J. Green .... model furnisher: butterfly wing bridge
Rhonda C. Gunner .... video and graphics display: Video Image
Alison Harstedt .... assistant production accountant
Richard E. Hollander .... video and graphics display: Video Image
Deborah Johnson .... assistant: Bruce Willis
K. Lenna Katich .... production accountant (as K. Lenna Kunkel)
Tony Kerum .... caterer
Carol Land .... assistant: John Mctiernan
Clare Leavenworth .... assistant: Bruce Willis
Andrew Lipschultz .... publicity coordinator
Joel Marx .... location manager (as Joel B. Marx)
Peter McKernan Sr. .... pilot (as Peter McKernan)
Peter McKernan .... pilot (as Peter McKernan Jr.)
Gregory L. McMurry .... video and graphics display: Video Image
Kari Ann Messina .... production assistant
Lisa Miller .... production assistant
Chrissa Owens .... stage assistant: Boss
Michael Papac .... weapons specialist
Alan D. Purwin .... pilot (as Alan Purwin)
Jeff Rand .... stage assistant: Boss
Frank Reinhard .... production assistant
Phil Robinson .... production assistant
Ken H. Rosen .... location manager
Annie Saunders .... assistant: Charles Gordon
Shari Schneider .... assistant: Lawrence Gordon
Antoinette Simmrin .... assistant location manager
Tamara Smith .... production associate
Ken Stone .... maintenance engineer
Charles A. Tamburro .... pilot
Michael Tamburro .... pilot
Tony Tamburro .... pilot
Dana Lynne Taylor .... production coordinator
Kellett Tighe .... assistant: Lawrence Gordon
Marion Tumen .... script supervisor
Ladd Vance .... assistant: Joel Silver (as Ladd Rosenberg-Vance)
Tod M. Volpe .... special ceramic vessels
John C. Wash .... video and graphics display: Video Image
Mark West .... design engineer: Boss
Claire Wilson .... assistant: Richard Edlund, Boss Film Studios
Maryjane Zelicskovics .... production accountant: Boss
M. Rutledge McCall .... production assistant (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Dick Beving .... special thanks
Patty Brewer .... special thanks
Georgian Francisco .... special thanks
Jim Gembala .... special thanks
George Meehan .... special thanks
Allen Pena .... special thanks
Eli Tawil .... special thanks
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
131 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
2.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby (35 mm prints)
Certification:
Argentina:16 (original rating) | Argentina:13 (re-rating) | Australia:M | Brazil:14 | Canada:R (Manitoba) | Canada:R (Nova Scotia/Ontario) (original rating) | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Canada:14+ (TV rating) | Canada:18 (Nova Scotia) (re-rating) (2001) | Canada:AA (Ontario) (re-rating) (2001) | Finland:K-16 (2000) (uncut) | Finland:K-16 (1989) (cut) | Finland:K-18 (1988) (uncut) | France:U | Hong Kong:IIB | Iceland:16 | India:A | Ireland:18 | Italy:VM14 | Japan:PG-12 | Malaysia:18SG | Netherlands:16 | New Zealand:M | New Zealand:R16 (original rating) | Norway:15 | Norway:18 (original rating) | Peru:14 | Philippines:R-18 | Portugal:M/12 (Qualidade) | Singapore:M18 | South Africa:16LV | South Korea:18 (VHS/DVD rating) | South Korea:15 (theatrical rating) (1988) | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:15 (re-rating) (2008) | UK:18 (1988) | USA:R (certificate #29160) | West Germany:16 (cut) (video premiere) | West Germany:18 (original rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In the "Making of" Featurette for Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995), Reginald VelJohnson said that after his appearances in the first two Die Hard films, he would be frequently teased and joked at by friends and people on the street for his character's obsession of Twinkies, with some people even going so far as to buy twinkies and throwing them into his car while he was inside, and saying things like "Oh we knew you wanted some of those".See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When John is searching the body of Karl's brother, in one shot the terrorist's legs are straight, but in the next shot, they are curled to the left.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 doing this for eleven years.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!See more »

FAQ

Why exactly did Holly punch the TV reporter Dick Thornberg at the end?
How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
How does the movie end?
See more »
265 out of 297 people found the following review useful.
The Perfect Modern Action Film, 31 July 2001
Author: MadReviewer from Oldwick, NJ

"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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