Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John McTiernan|
|Produced by||Lawrence Gordon
|Screenplay by||Steven E. de Souza
|Based on||Nothing Lasts Forever
by Roderick Thorp
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Cinematography||Jan de Bont|
|Editing by||John F. Link
Frank J. Urioste
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||131 minutes|
Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steve de Souza and Jeb Stuart. It is an adaptation of the 1979 bestselling novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp following off-duty New York City Police Department officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he takes on a group of highly organized criminals in a Los Angeles skyscraper led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who perform a heist under the guise of a terrorist attack using hostages, including McClane's wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), to keep the police at bay.
New York City Police Department detective John McClane arrives in Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly. Limo driver Argyle drives McClane to her company headquarters, the Nakatomi Plaza building, for their Christmas party. While McClane retreats to the bathroom to freshen up after his plane trip, heavily armed terrorists take the celebrants hostage. German Hans Gruber leads twelve others: Karl, Franco, Tony, Theo, Alexander, Marco, Kristoff, Eddie, Uli, Heinrich, Fritz and James. McClane slips away, in undershirt and bare feet.
Gruber singles out Nakatomi executive Joseph Takagi, claiming he will teach the corporation a lesson against greed. Away from the hostages, Gruber interrogates Takagi for the computer code to access the building vault. Gruber admits that terrorism is a cover story for stealing $640 million in bearer bonds from the vault. Takagi refuses to cooperate and is executed while McClane secretly observes.
McClane kills Karl's brother Tony, takes his his weapon and uses his radio to contact the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department), who send Sgt. Al Powell to investigate, while Hans sends two men to stop McClane. McClane kills Heinrich and Marco, taking a bag of C-4 explosives and detonators. Gruber sends Eddie, who is dressed as a building security guard to meet Powell, who leaves satisfied until McClane drops Marco's corpse from an upper window onto his patrol car. This alerts the terrorists, who fire on the car as Powell drives away in reverse. Powell alerts LAPD, who quickly arrive and surround the building.
A SWAT team assaults the building, until James and Alexander attack them with rockets. McClane kills the pair with C-4, allowing SWAT to retreat. Holly's boastful coworker Harry Ellis wants to make a deal with Gruber, that McClane will return the detonators. McClane knows the real plot and refuses. Gruber executes time-waster Ellis. While inspecting explosives attached to the roof, Gruber encounters McClane. But Karl, Franco, and Fritz arrive before McClane can act. McClane kills Fritz and Franco, but is forced to flee without the detonators.
FBI agents arrive and take command of the situation, ordering the building power shut off per their standard procedures. Gruber anticipated this standard response, the reason he posed as a terrorist, wanting the power loss to disable the vault's final lock and give access to the bonds. Gruber demands a helicopter to land on the roof for transport. He intends to detonate the explosives on the roof, to kill the hostages and fake deaths of the terrorists.
Karl finds McClane, and the two fight. Meanwhile, Gruber sees a TV news report by Richard Thornburg with the McClane children, so he holds Holly as leverage, and orders the other hostages to the roof. McClane defeats Karl and heads to the roof. He kills Uli, and sends the hostages back downstairs, before the explosives detonate and destroy the FBI helicopter.
Theo goes to the parking garage to retrieve their getaway vehicle, but he is knocked unconscious by Argyle, who has mostly been listening to music, oblivious of trouble. McClane confronts Gruber and knocks Kristoff unconscious. McClane alerts Gruber and Eddie to his presence, but Gruber holds his pistol to Holly's head so McClane will surrender his machine gun. McClane does so and puts his hands behind his head.
After distracting his opponents by laughing, McClane pulls his concealed pistol earlier taped to his upper back, kills Eddie and shoots Gruber in the shoulder, sending him crashing through a window. Gruber grabs Holly, but McClane frees her. Gruber falls to his death on the street, 30 stories below.
McClane and Holly are escorted from the building and meet Powell in person. Karl emerges from the building disguised as a hostage and shoots at McClane, but he is shot by Powell. Argyle crashes through the parking garage door in the limo, and drives Holly and McClane away.
- Bruce Willis as John McClane, a streetwise New York cop who has come to Los Angeles to reconcile with his wife
- Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, a German mastermind and the leader of the terrorists
- Alexander Godunov as Karl, Hans's savage main henchman
- Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennaro-McClane, John's estranged wife
- Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell
- Paul Gleason as Dwayne T. Robinson, the Deputy Chief of Police
- De'voreaux White as Argyle, John's limousine driver
- William Atherton as Richard Thornburg, an arrogant reporter
- Hart Bochner as Harry Ellis, a sleazy Nakatomi executive
- James Shigeta as Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, Nakatomi's head executive
Additional cast include Hans's henchmen: Bruno Doyon as Franco, Andreas Wisniewski as Tony, Karl's brother, Clarence Gilyard as Theo, Joey Plewa as Alexander, Lorenzo Caccialanza as Marco, Gerard Bonn as Kristoff, Dennis Hayden as Eddie, Al Leong as Uli, Gary Roberts as Heinrich, Hans Buhringer as Fritz, and Wilhelm von Homburg as James. Robert Davi and Grand L. Bush appear as FBI agents Big Johnson and Little Johnson respectively, and Taylor Fry and Noah Land make cameo appearances as McClane's children Lucy McClane and John Jr.. The casting director was Jackie Burch.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
Die Hard follows the source material closely. Roderick Thorp's Nothing Lasts Forever has many of the memorable scenes, characters, and dialogue. The Los Angeles Times called it, "A ferocious, bloody, raging book so single-mindedly brilliant in concept and execution it should be read at a single sitting."
DVD commentary provides the insights that follow. Director John McTiernan changed political terrorism to a heist, for added "joy", so villains would not be overly ponderous. He liked the notion of Cold War-era terrorists throwing aside their beliefs in pursuit of capitalist spoils.
Gruber (Alan Rickman) is truly surprised when he falls from the building. The director ordered him dropped a full second early. The move angered Rickman.
The shooting script did not originally feature a meeting between McClane and Gruber pretending to be a hostage. The scene was written after finding Rickman could perform a convincing American accent.
Beethoven's 9th Symphony is featured prominently in Michael Kamen's score throughout the film, in many guises and variations (mostly as a leitmotif for Gruber and the terrorists), and thematic variations on "Singin' in the Rain" are also featured as the theme for the character Theo. John McTiernan said in the Die Hard DVD commentary that he incorporated those themes into the film's soundtrack as an homage to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (which featured both pieces of music). Basing his score around thematic variations on well-known pieces is a conceit that Kamen previously used in Brazil and would repeat in Die Hard 2 (which featured Jean Sibelius's "Finlandia") and McTiernan's Die Hard with a Vengeance (which featured variations on the Civil War marching tune, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", again previously used in a Kubrick film, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 is playing during the party sequence near the film's beginning.
As the film has a Christmas setting, the score also features sleigh bells in some cues, as well as the Christmas pop standard "Winter Wonderland". Two 1987 pop songs are used as source music: near the film's beginning, limousine driver Argyle plays the rap song "Christmas in Hollis", performed by Run–D.M.C., and later, while talking on the phone in the limousine, Argyle is listening to Stevie Wonder's "Skeletons". The end credits of the film begin with the Christmas song "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" (performed by Vaughn Monroe) and continues/concludes with Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
The film's final four minutes were tracked with music from two other Twentieth Century Fox features – these were 'temp tracks' which the studio ultimately decided to leave in the film. The music heard when McClane and Powell see each other for the first time is from John Scott's score for the 1987 film Man on Fire. When Karl appears with his rifle, a cut from the 1986 science fiction action film Aliens composed by James Horner is heard. This music can be found on the Aliens soundtrack as the first few minutes of the cue "Resolution and Hyperspace".
Similarly to Aliens, the score by Michael Kamen was heavily edited, with music samples looped over and over and cues added to scenes. The most notable example is the "brass blast" heard when John shoots Marco from under a table and later when Hans Gruber falls to his death.
- "The Nakatomi Plaza" (1:50)
- "Gruber's Arrival" (3:40)
- "John's Escape/You Want Money?" (5:52)
- "The Tower" (1:49)
- "The Roof" (3:57)
- "The Fight" (1:07)
- "He Won't Be Joining Us" (3:53)
- "And If He Alters It?" (2:39)
- "Going After John Again" (4:33)
- "Have a Few Laughs" (3:29)
- "Welcome to the Party" (1:00)
- "TV Station/His Bag Is Missing" (3:52)
- "Assault on the Tower" (8:16)
- "John Is Found Out" (5:03)
- "Attention Police" (3:38)
- "Bill Clay" (2:02)
- "I Had an Accident" (2:37)
- "Ode to Joy" – Beethoven (3:36)
- "The Battle" (10:15)
- "Gruber's Departure" (1:56)
- "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" (instrumental version) – Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn (2:00)
La-La Land Records 2-CD album 
|3.||"The Phone Goes Dead/Party Crashers"||1:51|
|4.||"John’s Escape/You Want Money?"||6:00|
|5.||"Wiring the Roof"||1:51|
|8.||"Tony and John Fight"||1:11|
|10.||"He Won't Be Joining Us"||3:01|
|11.||"And If He Alters It?"||2:39|
|12.||"Going After John"||4:29|
|13.||"Have a Few Laughs/Al Powell Approaches"||3:31|
|14.||"Under the Table"||1:55|
|15.||"Welcome to the Party"||1:09|
|17.||"Holly Meets Hans"||1:19|
|18.||"Assault on the Tower"||8:35|
|1.||"John Is Found Out"||5:03|
|4.||"Shooting the Glass"||1:05|
|5.||"I Had an Accident"||2:37|
|7.||"Message for Holly"||1:07|
|8.||"The Battle/Freeing the Hostages"||6:53|
|9.||"Helicopter Explosion and Showdown"||4:00|
|11.||"We've Got Each Other"||1:56|
|12.||"Let It Snow"||1:43|
|14.||"The Nakatomi Plaza"||1:45|
|15.||"Message for Holly*" (film version)||2:46|
|16.||"Gun in Cheek*"||1:01|
|18.||"Ode to Joy" (alternate)||2:10|
|19.||"Let It Snow"||1:58|
|21.||"Christmas in Hollis"||4:49|
(*) Mono source
Critical reception 
Based on 50 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 94% of critics gave Die Hard a positive review, with an average rating of 8.2/10. Among others, English film critic Mark Kermode has expressed admiration for the film, calling it an exciting setup of, "Cowboys and Indians in The Towering Inferno." The film's title and its story of a lone hero battling a multitude of single-minded opponents in an isolated setting also became a common descriptor for later action films: "Die Hard on a _____" became a simple and easy way to define the plot of many action films that came in its wake. For example, the 1994 film Speed was called "Die Hard on a bus", and the 1996 film The Rock was dubbed "Die Hard on an island". However, Roger Ebert gave it a less than flattering review, giving it a mere two stars and criticizing the stupidity of the deputy police chief character, claiming that "all by himself he successfully undermines the last half of the movie."
Die Hard had a budget of $28 million. Released in 21 theaters on July 15, 1988 it widened to 1,276 theaters the following weekend, grossing $7.1 million. The film earned $83 million domestically and $140.7 million worldwide. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing (Don J. Bassman, Kevin F. Cleary, Richard Overton and Al Overton, Jr.) and Best Visual Effects.
The film spawned four sequels: Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). In 2001, Die Hard was listed at #39 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills, a list America's most heart-pounding films. In the June 22, 2007 issue of Entertainment Weekly, it was named the best action film of all time. In 2003, Hans Gruber was listed at #46 on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list. He was also listed as the 17th greatest film character by Empire magazine. John McClane was placed at number 12 on the same list. McClane's catchphrase "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker" was voted as #96 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere magazine in 2007. In 2010, Die Hard was voted by Empire magazine as "The Greatest Christmas Film of All Time".
- American Film Institute lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – #39
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!" – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – Nominated
German version 
In the German dub, the names and backgrounds of the German-born terrorists were changed into English forms (mostly into their British equivalents, with the exception of Marco and Franco, who retained their Italian and French nationalities respectively): Hans became Jack, Karl became Charlie, Heinrich turned into Henry. In the scene where John is writing down the names of the terrorists, a voiceover in the German version says "I'm gonna call you Hans and Karl, just like the two evil giants in the fairy tale" while referring to them as Jack and Charlie later. The new background depicts them as some internationally organized terrorists having gone freelance and for profit rather than ideals.
See also 
- Die Hard (1988). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2011-01-14.
- Sternbergh, Adam (February 21, 2013). "On the Enduring Appeal of ‘Die Hard’". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "Die Hard Analysis". Script Secrets.
- "Filmtracks: Die Hard (Michael Kamen)". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- "Die Hard by Michael Kamen". Varesesarabande.com. Retrieved 2009-07-10.[dead link]
- "Die Hard (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
- Weinberger, Everett (1997). Wannabe: A Would-Be Player's Misadventures in Hollywood. Macmillan. p. 52. ISBN 0-312-15708-8.
- The Movies of the Eighties (1990) by Ron Base and David Haslam.
- "Die Hard". Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
- "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- This is the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies
- ""Die Hard" tops magazine list of best action films". Reuters. June 15, 2007.
- The 100 Greatest Movie Characters| 17. Hans Gruber | Empire. www.empireonline.com (2006-12-05). Retrieved on 2011-01-14.
- The 100 Greatest Movie Characters| 12. John McClane | Empire. www.empireonline.com (2006-12-05). Retrieved on 2011-01-14.
- "The 30 Best Christmas Movies Ever". Empireonline.com. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Crawford, Amy (July 1, 2007). "Die Hard Donation". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved September 10, 2010.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
- "Schnittberichte — Stirb Langsam". Retrieved 2007-10-12.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Die Hard (film)|
- Die Hard at the Internet Movie Database
- Die Hard at AllRovi
- Die Hard at Rotten Tomatoes
- Die Hard at TV Tropes
- Die Hard on Wikia