An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.


John McTiernan


Roderick Thorp (based on the novel by), Jeb Stuart (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
641 ( 52)
Top Rated Movies #127 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


It's Christmas Eve In L.A. And The Party Action's About To Explode... On The Fortieth Floor! See more »


Action | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


When Hans is discussing Nakatomi's Indonesian bridge project with Takagi he refers to reading about it in Forbes magazine. When Uli (Al Leong) is raiding the lobby newsstand for candy you can see copies of that magazine on the shelves behind him. See more »


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. 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 doing this...
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The FX Channel adds a scene prior to the electricity-controlled opening of the vault. In it, the city engineer pulls the plug locally, but even though the power goes off, the electromagnetic seal still holds. After realizing the building has alternate power sources, Hans orders Theo to "annoy them", which leads Theo to type in commands to turn the power back on. The lights come back on, where Special Agent Johnson (Robert Davi) tells the city engineer to shut the whole grid down. A quick black-and-white frame flashes before it rejoins the original footage. See more »


Referenced in Timeless: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes (2018) See more »


Winter Wonderland
Written by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith (as Dick Smith)
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User Reviews

The ultimate action film.
28 June 2007 | by theshadow908See all my reviews

Die Hard tells the story of a New York City detective named John McClane who is separated from his wife. She invites him to a Christmas party at her office building in Los Angeles, and he decides to go to work things out. Once there, a group of German terrorists come in and take hostages with the intent of stealing millions of dollars in bonds. McClane manages to escape and begins to fight the terrorists one by one to save the people in the building.

Die Hard is a classic film because it completely revolutionized action films. The 80s were a time of unrealistic action sequences, predictable characters, and rudimentary plots. Die Hard changed all that. Die Hard takes place in a real world setting, or at least about as real as you can get with an action movie, so the action sequences, while insane, are slightly believable. The plot of the movie is simple, yet it's so brilliant at the same time. And the characters in this movie are engaging and a lot of fun to watch. John McClane is a really likable everyman kind of guy, we can all relate to him. Hans Gruber is an awesome villain, both cold and ruthless, yet very human. The supporting characters on the outside of the building are all great as well. Another great thing about Die Hard is that even though it's a hardcore action movie, it manages to be extremely funny at some parts, almost to a point of being able to call it a comedy. This makes the movie really easy to watch over and over again. There's really nothing wrong with this movie whatsoever in any department.

The acting is great. Bruce Willis is hilarious and hardcore as John McClane, and he portrays the adrenaline and the frustration of the situation very well. Alan Rickman is awesome in one of his earlier roles as the main villain Hans Gruber. Reginald VelJohnson is enjoyable as McClane's outside contact Officer Al Powell, and Paul Gleason is funny as a hardheaded and incompetent deputy chief of police.

Overall, Die Hard is the ultimate action film because it's fast, funny, and hardcore. It also gave us one of the most famous action movie one liners of all time...You know the one.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | German | Italian | Japanese

Release Date:

20 July 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Hard See more »


Box Office


$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$601,851, 17 July 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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