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Die Hard (1988) Poster

(1988)

Goofs

Anachronisms 

When Sgt. Powell arrives at Nakatomi, the guard pretends to be wrapped up in the Notre Dame-USC college football game. However, the college football season typically ends just after Thanksgiving, and rarely will you see a college football bowl game played on Christmas Eve. Particularly not between two teams that met in the regular season.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Takagi speaks to the employees at the party they erupt in loud applause. Looking at the employees, none are clapping their hands.
During the 'shoot the glass' scene, the muzzle flashes frequently do not match up with the sounds of gunfire.
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When the swat team is trying to enter the building and they fail to pick the lock, a swat team member clearly lights a cutting torch to burn the lock. A few scenes later you can clearly hear a grinding sound indicating a drill or grinder is being used to try to break the lock.
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When Argyle first learns of the Nakatomi takeover, he is pouring a glass of whiskey just off screen with the appropriate sound effect. However, when the glass reappears on screen a moment later, it is empty.
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When the terrorist car first pulls up to the Nakatomi Plaza, the noise from the brakes is not consistent with the movement of the vehicle.
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When John is first chased by a terrorist, up on the floor still under construction, he turns on and off a radial arm saw. The very distinct sound of the blade running against either a kerf in the fence or a kerf in the table can be heard. However, when the terrorist finds the saw, it can be clearly seen that the blade is running free.
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Boom mic visible 

Just after we are first introduced to Johnson and Johnson, Hans is seen walking on the top floor in, looking up and shining his flashlight. In the Forward Tracking Shot, just before he climbs the wall, the shadow of the boom mic is visible just above his shadow on the far right of the screen in the widescreen version of the film.
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Character error 

When the SWAT team is trying to break into the front door of the tower they first try picking the lock to no avail. Then we see a SWAT team member carrying a metal cutting torch attempting to cut through the lock. The SWAT team would have just broken the glass to get in and not waste time using a metal cutting torch to cut the door lock. The glass is obviously breakable as shown in the same scene when the terrorists fire upon the SWAT team.
After Hans and Karl shoot out the glass, Karl is furious that McClane eluded them, whereas Karl should have actually been able to track down McClane easily by following the bloody footprints he would have left from the huge gashes in his feet.
When the terrorists are first walking in as a group looking very serious and sinister, the one on the far left is on a collision course with the wall! The camera cuts away just before he walks into it.
After Powell did his sweep at the Nakatomi building to report the "wild goose chase", the dispatcher did not follow proper procedure and respond to Powell's transmission, when Powell said, "...everything here is okay, over." Dispatchers always have to echo or respond to the last transmission.
After the terrorists blow the roof up, and the hostages are running down the stairs, one of the hostages gets hit in the head with a softball-sized rock and it doesn't faze him.
When Theo updates Hans on the police activity, he reports that "the four assholes [are] coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation." The SWAT team members are not in '2x2 cover', they're all running together single file (more or less).
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Much of the "word play" between" McClane (Bruce Willis) in the building and Sgt. Powell outside made reference to Roy Rogers, by calling each other "Roy" and with McClane shouting "Happy Trails" (Roy Rogers' theme song) at the terrorists. However, the phrase "Yippee Ki O" to Hans is line more associated with Gene Autry than with Roy Rogers.
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When McClane first arrives at the Nakatomi building, he is told to search for his wife's name in the database. When he clicks "G", Holly's name comes up with her last name spelled "GennEro". When he clicks on her profile, it is spelled "GennAro". It is spelled with the "E" on her office door as well.
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When Harvey at the News desk is grimacing back at Thornberg's "Eat it, Harvey!", Harvey then gets his five-count cue to go live on the air. The last two counts (and sometimes the last three counts) are always silent and are never called out loud.
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Gruber says "Schiess den Fenster" ("shoot the window"). The correct German term would have been "Zerschiess das Fenster".
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If Hans the resources to research Takagi's personal and professional background in great detail, he would obviously be able to find a recent photo of him.
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When Hans Gruber says, "...we'll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent." he is making a factual error. The rate of return on any security is based upon its purchase price relative to the established annual interest/dividend payment. Since the bonds will have a zero cost-basis, as they are stolen, they percentage return in indeterminable.
Gruber speaks a Germanic-tinged English but, when caught by Willis, speaks flawless American English. Non-native users of any language tend to carry the intonation, phonological processes and pronunciation rules from their mother tongue into their English speech, which is what gives them an 'accent'. These are very difficult to get rid of but, once you have learned to overcome these and are able to speak English perfectly, you cannot 'unlearn' them. Once you have mastered the phonemes (like using 'th' as an alveolar fricative instead of using 'z' or 's' or pronouncing 'w' as 'wuh' instead of 'v')and little things like the native English speaker's offglide on the vowels 'i' and 'u', you wouldn't use the incorrect German pronunciation in normal English speech. If Gruber could speak perfect English then it was his German-tinged English accent that must have been deliberately put on, not his American English imposter's accent.
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When Hans Gruber is looking for Mr. Takagi and reciting his biography, he says Mr. Takagi was a "scholarship student, University of California, 1955." The various UC campuses are run as separate universities (and were in 1955), so Mr. Takagi would have been awarded a scholarship to a specific campus (e.g., UC Berkeley, UCLA, etc.).
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Takagi mentions that any computer information Gruber gets would be changed "when they wake up in Tokyo in the morning". Japan is 17 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, so early evening in California corresponds to roughly midday in Tokyo. The workers wouldn't need to "wake up" at all because they'd already be at the office.
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Continuity 

Early in the film, shortly after the terrorists have launched their assault, McClane glances out a window and sees a woman in the building across the street. However, previous and subsequent long shots of the building he's in show that there are no other buildings close by.
The FBI sends two helicopters to Nakatomi, but just before the John-on-the-roof sequences, the second helicopter disappears and is never seen again.
Early in the movie after McClane kills the first terrorist, he sends the body down to the 30th floor in the elevator with the Santa hat on it. Hans says, "No this is something else," and the dead terrorist's eyes are open but when Hans reaches to turn the dead man's head, his eyes close.
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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.
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When John is in the elevator shaft listening to the terrorists speak he writes their names down on his hand with a felt tip pen, but the names disappear for the rest of the movie.
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.
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Powell's cruiser suddenly has a roll cage when he's fired on and the cruiser drives off the wall.
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The first and second rocket attacks both blow out the same window on the APC.
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Prior to climbing down an elevator shaft staircase, McClane (who is supposed to be barefoot) is clearly seen wearing shoes as he jumps through an elevated service door.
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When John first enters the lobby of the Nakatomi building, the Christmas tree is unlit, even though it's Christmas Eve and the company party is in progress upstairs. When Hans and the other terrorists enter the lobby just a few minutes later, the tree lights are on. In fact when John enters the building, it's dusk outside and the lights on the outside are unlit as well. But terrorists arrive when it's dark, both the Christmas tree and lights on outside trees are lit. There is more than a few minutes between two instances and they may have waited for it to become dark to turn the lights on. Besides, even in real life there are more than 8 minutes between each scene. In movie time it may be well over than that so anything might have been happened during that time.
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John's tank top changes from white to gray in various scenes.
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John's vest is white when he enters the vent system and dark green when he exits. This is not, as some think, a result of accumulated dirt.
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Trim on the rear doors of Al's patrol car disappears and changes style.
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In the fight between John and Karl, John jumps onto Karl's back and knocks him onto his stomach on the rolling cart. In the next shot, however, Karl is lying on his back.
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After McClane fires in the air and it shot at but not hit by one of the FBI men, the other agent Johnson (the white guy) says "Swing around again - I'll bag this little bastard" and both agents are looking toward the camera as if the roof is to their left. But the roof of the Nakatomi building can be seen through the window *behind* them, to their right, and the next jump cut indeed shows the building in front of them, not behind.
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When John lowers himself into the elevator shaft from the strap attached to the tactical weapon, the room he enters from is well-lit. When the shot alternates to the view from the shaft, that room is dark.
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After John kills the first terrorist and John is collecting stuff from him, the terrorist's glasses appear and disappear between shots.
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When Argyle rams Theo's van, the front end of the limousine is thoroughly wrecked. When he comes through the gate at the end of the movie, it's more or less intact. (The gate itself also would have caused more damage than is visible.)
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When the officers are first trying to enter the building, Uli is seen biting into a Nestle Crunch candy bar. Seconds later, he is seen again but his candy bar has become a Mars Bar.
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When McClane is having a gun fight on the roof of the building he slides down a slide with his machine gun in the right hand; the next shot he has the gun in the left hand.
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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.
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When John is talking to Sgt. Powell about his family (after eating the Twinkie), he's holding the radio in his left hand and his wallet in his right hand, looking at pictures of his kids. In the close-up shot of the wallet, both of John's hands can be seen holding the wallet.
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The Christmas tree on the table that Karl hides behind is lying down before it gets knocked over by McClane later.
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When John is first hanging from the hose from the roof, he ends up right next to a band of stone between floors, in the next shot he is directly in front of a window.
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When Karl's brother comes to apprehend John, we see a close-up of his weapon when he flicks the light switch. The charging handle is forward (the bolt is closed). In the next shot, however, it's back, and the bolt is open. We later see him slap the handle forward.
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Before the second rocket attack on the police armored vehicle, the flames from the first rocket attack, which occurred only a few seconds prior, are all but extinguished.
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When the hostages are sent up to the roof, the blonde lady in the gray dress is shown walking up the stairs and turning left onto the roof twice.
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When Karl's brother is stalking McClane in the floor under construction, the stack of drywall sheeting that John hides behind and Karl's brother walks around keeps changing.
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McClane swings through the window on the hose and lands on his back. In the next shot, he's on his chest.
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The flash and fire from the second rocket attack on the police armored vehicle originate from under the vehicle - something impossible from a top-down rocket attack which struck the roof of the vehicle, and furthermore, a frame-by-frame analysis of the shot shows no shell whatsoever hitting the vehicle.
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Twenty minutes passes by - the time it took for John to get from the airport to the Nakatomi Plaza to join the party - and the orchestra is still playing exactly the same piece.
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The song Argyle is listening to in the limo is Stevie Wonder's "Skeleton". It's about a 5 minutes song, however between the 1st and 2nd shot of him listening to the song 10 minutes have gone by.
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Throughout the course of the movie, Bruce Willis' undershirt goes from white to a solid Army Green, then changes to a mix of some white and green.
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The wound on Sgt. Powell's forehead disappears once the FBI arrives.
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Crew or equipment visible 

In the shots that we see of John McClane when he asks the hostages where his wife has been taken to by the terrorists, you can see the pyrotechnic charges taped to the roof that are about to be used. When the helicopter swings overhead and a soldier uses his machine gun, you can see the charges detonating and the fact that they are charges being used to simulate M-60 bullets hitting the roof.
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After the 911 call gets cancelled, the guard goes to floor 32 where John is. When the guard turns on the lights, the camera crew is reflected in the window.
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When Karl shoots the second security guard after first entering the building, you can see the outline of the fake blood packets under his shirt.
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As John is fighting Karl towards the end of the movie, Karl's harness is clearly visible as he is dragged across the room by the chains which are supposedly round his neck.
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When the APC blows up and you are viewing the outside view of the vehicle exploding you can clearly see a camera man standing in the window where the rocket was shot from.
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When Sgt. Powell asks the security guard (terrorist posing as security guard) if he can take a look around the building. At the counter Powell is leaning on, the reflection of a giant stage lamp can be seen.
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Factual errors 

Several times during transmissions with the two-way radios, characters interrupt each other, which would be impossible given the type of radios they were using.
When McClane drops the monitor with the C4 down the elevator shaft, he has time to jump away from the door as the explosion rises. The gases from C4 actually expand faster than the speed of sound, so his face would have been melted off.
Channel 9 (CB distress channel) is monitored by Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams (REACT), not the police department. If someone were calling for help on Channel 9, they would talk to a REACT operator, who would then call the authorities. Either way, it would not be an FCC violation.
When the terrorists break all the glass the way it breaks shows that it is tempered safety glass. Tempered glass breaks into small rounded pieces without sharp points. By walking carefully McClane could have traversed the floor without cutting himself.
Police officers allowed to carry firearms (concealed carry) because of their state-issued law enforcement licenses. Police officers are allowed to operate only within the borders of their own states. McClane is on a plane traveling from New York to Los Angeles, taking him out of the state, meaning that his police license is would not be applicable; this also negates his right to carry his weapon. Federal agents and state and local law enforcement officers are allowed to carry on commercial flights but only on official police business (e.g., prisoner or VIP escort). Proper paper work and verified identification would be required on such official business.
When Powell is driving away from the Nakatomi tower, the dead terrorist that John tossed out the window crashes through a pane glass windshield, which went out of use as early as 1919. All vehicles, including Powell's police car, have laminated windshields and there are no deadly shards as with pane glass.
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Although a reporter refers to the terrorists radios as CB radios, the walkie-talkie is either a VHF or UHF, not HF radio, therefore not capable of transmitting in the 27.065MHz emergency channel of the Citizen's Band (Channel 9).
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The hand-held radio that McClane uses to call for help on CB channel 9 is a Kenwood TH-31BT 220MHz ham radio. It is not capable of transmitting or receiving on the 27MHz channel 9 CB frequency.
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When reporter Richard Thornburg is listening to his police scanner, he hears Officer Powell screaming for backup. At this point the red lights on the front of the scanner are continually blinking from left to right. However, on this particular model scanner the lights would cease blinking, and remain solid on a single channel as long as it was active.
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As in most movies, the C4 explosive is packaged incorrectly. Real 1.25 pound blocks of C4 are packaged in dark green (olive drab) plastic wrapping with yellow markings.
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The news has a guest describing "Helsinki Syndrome". However, the condition he then goes on to describe is actually called "Stockholm Syndrome".
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When the limousine crashes into the ambulance in the parking garage, an overhead shot of the action shows a red and blue flasher atop the ambulance. In LA City, only police and other law enforcement carry blue lights. All other emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances and paramedics trucks carry primarily red and sometimes red and white, but never blue.
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Thornburg's Assistant tells him that she has McClane's vital statistics, which would have been utterly useless and are not kept in any personnel record files, only confidential medical records that the media cannot access.
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On the VHS and DVD box for this movie, the description says, "Armed with only a service revolver and his cunning, McClane launches his own one-man war." McClane uses a Beretta Model 92 semi-automatic pistol, not a revolver.
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Electric saws used in professional construction are equipped with automatic brakes designed to stop the blade immediately when the trigger is released. A saw blade that freewheels as it spins down is a safety hazard and generally wouldn't be allowed in this type of work site.
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Argyle turns on the C.B. radio in the limousine to listen to police traffic. This is patently absurd. Police don't use C.B.'s. The same mistake was made in The Blues Brothers.
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Miscellaneous 

When Argyle rams his limousine into the broadside of the ambulance, you can see that the lettering contains a misspelled word. Instead of "Los Angeles City Fire Department," the lettering reads "Los Angeles City Fire Deparment."
Right after John states his name as John and is told to hold tight, the drill on the safe is restarted and the sparks start coming out before the drill starts moving.
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When McClane confronts Hans (pretending to be an escaped hostage) on the roof, McClane asks his name, to which Hans says his name is "Bill Clay"--a name which Hans read off of a nearby floor directly. If you look at the entire directory carefully, two names are surprisingly missing from it: H. GENNARO (Holly) and J. TAKAGI. Considering that Takagi is the head of the Nakatomi Corporation and Holly is one of his direct subordinates (Vice President?), it would seem very odd that neither of their names would appear on the directory.
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Any high-security lock system should be fail-safe in case of power outage - meaning that power should be needed to unlock it, not to keep it locked. It is a rather common practice before any burglary or theft to cut the power more than 24 hours before the attempt to provide time for any backup batteries for a complete discharge thus disabling the alarm system. This is the point for fail-safe locks should remain locked in the absence of power.
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On the VHS and DVD box for this movie, the description says, "Armed with only a service revolver and his cunning, McClane launches his own one-man war." McClane uses a Beretta Model 92 semi-automatic pistol, not a revolver.
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When Al Powell first arrives in his patrol car and is circling, McLane is supposed to be watching him from somewhere above the 30th floor. When the camera looks down at the patrol car it is not nearly far enough away. The patrol car appears to have been filmed from a much lower height than the 30th floor or above. If it had actually been filmed from the 30th floor or above the car would have looked much smaller.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

When Gail Wallens talk with Dr. Hasseldorf about the hostages situation, he speaks of "Helsinki Syndrome". The correct name is "Stockholm Syndrome". However, this was a joke satirizing the incompetence of so-called TV "experts", as the following lines ridicule Johnson for his mistake.
Holly's office is used as the command for Hans Gruber. Early on, the office appears to be located down the hallway with the door on the right hand side of the office, such that Hans would not be able to see Holly and the rest of the hostages from inside. When Hans realizes that Holly is married to John, the office then appears to be a corner office with the door on the left hand side, giving Hans a direct and unobstructed view of Holly. Holly's office actually has a long window on the left side and a second door that opens out into the main atrium, and the desk is angled so that Hans can look out through either door, accounting for the two different shots used. This is only apparent in the wide screen version.
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Hans repeatedly and pointlessly pulls the trigger of the Beretta and the gun appears to be empty. An experienced user of an automatic pistol would naturally pull the slider back manually as there may be bullets in the magazine. However, before McClane hands him the gun, he clearly racks the slide after putting in a new magazine. If there were any rounds in the magazine at all, one would've already been in the chamber, which an experienced user of handguns would know.

Plot holes 

The "terrorists" plan to get the FBI to cut the power to Nakatomi Plaza so the lock to the vault will open and they can steal the bearer bonds it contains. Any electric device of this criticality would be connected to a UPS - Uninterruptible Power Supply - so even if the utility power were cut it would continue to function.
Theo closes all the garage doors and then destroys the computer meaning the ambulance would have had no way to leave the garage.
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Since Richard Thornburg interviewed a minor without parental consent Channel 9 wouldn't have been able to air the interview with Lucy McClane therefore Hans Gruber wouldn't have known Holly Gennaro McClane, John McClanne and Lucy were related to each other.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Hans reaches out to turn the dead man's head in the lift, the man's head moves to the left before Hans has actually touched him. The corpse also blinks.
Obvious stunt double for McClane (missing a tattoo on the shoulder) during the fight with Karl.
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After the terrorists blow the roof up, and the hostages are running down the stairs, one of the hostages gets hit in the head with a softball-sized rock and it doesn't faze him.
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When the electric company worker is telling the downtown dispatcher to "turn off grid 2-12", he does not release the speak button when the dispatcher responds.
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Obvious stunt double for John McClane during the fight with Tony.
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When jumping off the roof at Nakatomi Plaza just before it explodes, you can clearly see John McClane's "rubber shoes" that were used to protect his feet. While the people are being held hostage, he is supposed to be barefoot. His support wire is also visible in addition to the fire hose.
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When Powell is driving away from the Nakatomi tower, the dead terrorist that John tossed out the window crashes through a pane glass windshield, which went out of use as early as 1919. All vehicles, including Powell's police car, have laminated windshields and there are no deadly shards as with pane glass.
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When McClane first arrives at the Nakatomi building, he is told to search for his wife's name in the database. When he clicks "G", Holly's name comes up with her last name spelled "GennAro". When he clicks on her profile, it is spelled "GennEro". It is spelled with the "E" on her office door as well.
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Right after John states his name as John and is told to hold tight, the drill on the safe is restarted and the sparks start coming out before the drill starts moving. Also the sound of the drill is at a way higher RPM than the drill itself is moving once it does start moving.
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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.
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Squibs are visible on the metal door that McClane goes through when Karl shoots at him during their final fight.
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When Argyle rams his limousine into the broadside of the ambulance, you can see that the lettering contains a misspelled word. Instead of "Los Angeles City Fire Department," the lettering reads "Los Angeles City Fire Deparment."
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When reporter Richard Thornburg is listening to his police scanner, he hears Officer Powell screaming for backup. At this point the red lights on the front of the scanner are continually blinking from left to right. However, on this particular model scanner the lights would cease blinking, and remain solid on a single channel as long as it was active.
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When Gruber shoots Takagi, presumably through the head, blood splatters all over the glass door behind him. But somehow the bullet itself doesn't break the glass.
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The eyes of the dead terrorist in the elevator close just before Gruber touches his face.
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When John falls down the stairs with the first terrorist he kills, he is clearly wearing flesh-coloured socks.
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Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

At the end of the movie we see the building exploding from a distance. The sound of the explosion is at the same time the explosion happens but since light travels faster than sound, it should have been at least a few seconds between the explosion and the sound.
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Continuity 

There is no ambulance in the truck when the terrorists first arrive, but Theo drives an ambulance out of the truck near the end of the movie (error acknowledged by filmmakers).
Several times over the course of the film, it is demonstrated that the windows of the Nakatomi building all contain safety glass - glass that is coated with a polymer that: A) like the windshield of an automobile, will break into tiny fragments or rounded beads, and B) will remain a continuous sheet due to its special coating, even though the glass within is shattered. Near the end of the movie when Hans is shot, however, the window he breaks and falls through, unlike all the other previous windows, shatters as a normal untreated pane would do - breaking into large dangerous shards instead of the normal safety glass fragments.
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In the first close up where Hans is hanging from Holly's wrist, there is blood on Holly's face from John's arm. In the second close up this blood is missing.
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In the battle scene with the police, Alexander's first shot with the anti-tank gun breaks the glass. However, the second shot also breaks the same pane of glass.
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When McClane grabs the Beretta taped to his back, he brings it down into a two-handed grip. In the very next shot he shoots Hans with the gun in his left hand and his right arm behind him.
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Al's patrol car has had the spotlights removed, but in the overhead shot of Marco's body crashing through the windscreen, there are dual spotlights visible.
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After Gruber kills Takagi, the mess that it made on the window is virtually gone in the next shot.
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As Hans falls out of the window the window breaks and there is no glass on the sides of the window. Then by the next shot you can clearly see glass on the left side of the window.
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Crew or equipment visible 

Near the end of the movie, when McClane walks through the large hall (where the hostages had been held captive earlier), you can see a shadow of someone behind the Christmas tree just after the tree falls.
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Factual errors 

Near the end of the movie when Karl was faking being dead, he would not have been placed in a body bag with fully loaded weapons. They would have been removed as evidence.
At the end of the film Hans is holding onto Holly's wrist by her Rolex watch (mentioned in the dialog early in the film). To release Hans to fall to the ground, John flips the clasp on the watch and it falls from her wrist, allowing Hans to fall. Rolex watches do not have such a clasp. They are a continuous loop, and are merely loosened for removal by a clasp which effectively increases the size of the loop. The strap is shown to be a non-continuous piece.

Miscellaneous 

When John pulls the gun from his back and shoots Hans, the slide is in the 'out-of-ammo' position, i.e. : all the way back, and John then shoots the guard .
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Revealing mistakes 

When Hans is holding onto Holly's watch out of the window and then falls, he is shot in slow motion but the paper that is falling in the background is moving at normal speed.
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The $640 million worth bearer bonds that are snowing on the disaster scene after Holly and John escape are nothing but blank pieces of paper.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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