Top 365 Films – #007 – Die Hard (1988)

Top 365 Films - Die Hard - Starring Bruce WillisDIRECTED BY: John McTiernan

STARRING: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, William Atherton, Clarence Gilyard, Hart Bochner, James Shigeta, Grand L. Bush and Robert Davi

BUDGET: $28m

EARNED (Worldwide): $140.8m

AWARDS: None (4 Oscar Nominations for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects)



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.


Die Hard has us follow NYPD officer John McClane arriving in Los Angeles on a Christmas trip to visit his wife Holly at her workplace, the Nakatomi Plaza, where they’re having a Christmas party. Meanwhile a terrorist group led by Hans Gruber take control of the building and hold everyone hostage, where they plan to perform a lucrative heist. Unfortunately for them however, John McClane is in the building and with no immediate police response, is forced to take matters into his own hands.


There’s a Christmas song in the limo with Run DMC’s ‘Christmas in Hollis’, a Christmas reunion with John and his wife Holly, a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza and you just have to celebrate the films ending by signing off to the sound of Vaughn Monroe’s ‘Let it Snow’ as the credits roll, it seems all very coincidental that Die Hard would end up being posted today of all days on Christmas Day as part of the Top 365 Films list. Before he ended up in modern action bores that the characters has become an overblown parody of himself, in the beginning here we had, be it he was a cop, an ordinary man thrown into extraordinary circumstances as a terrorist group stroll into the Christmas Party at the Nakatomi Plaza and take control and hold everyone hostage as they plan to use the terrorist angle as cover to steal $640m in bearer bonds within the vault at the Plaza. The moment Hans Gruber comes into frame the pace and flow of the story and action picks up and never slows down as John McClane must use his wits to not only get help from the police on the outside but also keep the hostage alive inside the Plaza whilst keeping himself out of sight. His outside source of communication comes in the form of Sergeant Al Powell, played brilliantly by Reginald VelJohnson, sharing stories about their families and things in the line of duty which plays a huge part of Al’s arc within the overall story. There’s also the likes of Deputy Chief of Police Dwayne T. Robinson and Grand L. Bush and Robert Davi as FBI Agent Johnson and FBI Agent Johnson, no relation, being cartoonish but providing some laughs and putting McClane in a position of if you want to get the job done, you just got to get it done yourself. On the villainous side even Gruber’s henchman Karl had an arc and reason for pursuing McClane throughout, adding suspense and threat anytime McClane comes up against him and then there’s Ellis….whatta dick! What I really enjoyed in my favourite performance from Bruce Willis is even though McClane does some extraordinary things to not only keep himself alive and take the fight to Hans Guber and co, he still bleeds and more often than not when talking with Al, there’s still fear and doubt in his voice over whether or not he’ll make it through the end of the night. As for Hans Gruber, he is without a shadow of a doubt an iconic villain played to perfection by Alan Rickman and with Die Hard and Predator, John McTiernan gave me two action films that I’ve adored from childhood and cherish in adulthood.


FAVOURITE SCENE: As Hans Gruber hits the detonator, John McClane leaps off the top of Nakatomi tower, strapped to a fire hose as the top of the building explodes.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.’ – John McClane

DID YOU KNOW?: The scene in which Gruber and McClane meet was inserted into the script after Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber) was found to be proficient at mimicking American accents. The filmmakers had been looking for a way to have the two characters meet prior to the climax and capitalized on Rickman’s talent. The Nakatomi tower is actually the headquarters of 20th Century Fox. The company charged itself rent for the use of the then unfinished building. Special, extra loud blanks were made for use in the film to add to the “hyper-realism” director John McTiernan was looking for. Unfortunately for Bruce Willis, some of these blanks were used for the scene where he kills a terrorist by shooting him through the bottom of a table where the terrorist is standing. The proximity of the gun to Willis’ ear during this scene caused permanent hearing loss for Willis. Alan Rickman’s feature film debut. The scene where McClane falls down a shaft was a mistake by the stuntman, who was supposed to grab the first vent, as it originally was planned. He slipped and continued to fall, but the shot was used anyway; it was edited together with one where McClane grabs the next vent down as he falls.

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