High above the city of L.A., a team of terrorists has seized a building, taken hostages and declared war. One man has managed to escape. An off-duty cop hiding somewhere inside. He's alone, tired...and the only chance anyone has got.
Die Hard is a 1988 action film directed by John McTiernan, written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, produced by Gordon Company and Silver Pictures, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film is based on Roderick Thorp's 1979 novel, Nothing Lasts Forever. It stars Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, but it did not win any of them. This is the first film in the Die Hard franchise. It was followed by Die Hard 2. The film has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
“Yippie-ki-yay, motherf**ker.” -John McClane
New York cop John McClane goes to L.A. to visit his wife and attempts to rekindle their relationship. He goes to her building for a Christmas party, and, during the party, a group of terrorists captures the building and the people inside of it. McClane is able to escape and has to outwit and fight off the heavily armed terrorists with his brains and a pistol.
The best thing about this movie is probably the emotions that it brings out. You know how painful it is for John to be fighting a war that is nearly impossible to win. You really feel that. When you can relate to the main protagonist, that is incredible storytelling. The terrorists scare you as much as they scare the other characters, if not more.
Hans Gruber is one of the best movie villains ever. He's up there with Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader. He is truly terrifying, but he is a genius. Alan Rickman should've gotten nominated for an Oscar. He is absolutely fantastic and very intimidating. His drawling speech and calm personality are one of a kind. He plays this part to absolute perfection.
Bruce Willis is also really, really good as John McClane. As an unknown actor in 1988, he completely nails the part. John McClane is also one of the greatest movie heroes and movie characters ever. He is a hero that you find yourself really rooting for. He is tough, witty and good. Bruce Willis isn't Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, but he gained stardom from this film.
The rest of the characters are all pretty good. All of the other terrorists have their own traits and scary little quirks that makes them memorable. Al Powell is a really good supporting character and one of the only protagonists in this film, which makes him even better. Argyle, though, is my favorite secondary character. He's really funny and probably way too young to be a limo driver, which makes him great. He isn't in a lot of the film, but he steals the spotlight when he's on screen.
The actual story, on paper, seems like it's too bland to be a movie, but it completely works. Everything that happens matters, and you know that nobody is safe. The movie builds up tension by showing that there are actual stakes and that the terrorists are merciless. It also shows that the police and FBI are all incompetent, so John McClane is actually fighting against a team of expert terrorists alone.
And, finally, this movie has some incredible shots and scenes inside of it. This film had a comfy budget, but it wasn't a ton. The scene where the top of the building explodes is incredible. It looks so real. Most of the action sequences are fantastic, and there are some of the greatest lines of dialogue ever said.
The biggest thing that I have on this is Holly Gennaro McClane. Holly, for some reason, just feels off in this. She doesn't feel like she fits in with the other characters. She doesn't feel like she would be married to John or be a leader in this world. I don't think that she is written particularly well or acted that well. She is played by Bonnie Bedelia, who, the entire film, looks like she wants to get the scene over with.
I also thought that the last scene was a little bit weird. I think that the laughing by the three men is just a weird choice to make in a dramatic and climactic finale.
Finally, Hans Gruber's death scene clearly has a green screen behind it. That was way too obvious for a movie that has such great visuals and effects in it.
Overall, this is a super classic action film that surprised everybody. It has great leads, amazing characters, exciting action, and a fun plot.
It gets a Sweet rating. Age range is 11+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Fun Factor: 10/10
WHERE TO WATCH
Peacock: Available for free
Amazon Prime Video: Available for rent
Apple TV+: Available for rent
Directed by John McTiernan
Released on July 20, 1988
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, thematic elements
2 hours and 12 minutes
Bruce Willis as John McClane
Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber
Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennaro McClane
Reginald VelJohnson as Sergeant Al Powell
De'voreaux White as Argyle
Hart Bochner as Ellis
James Shigeta as Mr. Takagi
Alexander Gudunov as Karl
Paul Gleason as Dwayne T. Robinson