PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
On Christmas Eve, New York City Police officer John McClane arrives in Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly. McClane is driven to the Nakatomi Plaza building for a company Christmas party by limo driver Argyle. While McClane changes clothes, the party is disrupted by the arrival of Hans Gruber and his heavily armed group: Karl, Franco, Tony, Theo, Alexander, Marco, Kristoff, Eddie, Uli, Heinrich, Fritz, and James. The group seize the tower and secure those inside as hostages except for McClane who manages to slip away, barefoot.
Gruber singles out Nakatomi executive Joseph Takagi claiming he intends to teach the Nakatomi Corporation a lesson for its greed. Away from the hostages, Gruber interrogates Takagi for the code to the Nakatomi computer to access the building’s vault. Gruber admits that they are using terrorism as a decoy while they attempt to steal $640 million in bearer bonds in the vault. Takagi refuses to cooperate and is executed by Hans as McClane secretly observes. McClane accidentally gives himself away and is pursued by Tony. McClane manages to kill Tony, taking his weapon and radio. McClane uses the radio to contact the LAPD who send Sgt. Al Powell to investigate, while Hans sends his men to stop McClane. McClane kills Heinrich and Marco and escapes. Powell, finding nothing strange about the building, attempts to leave, but McClane drops Marco’s corpse onto Powell’s car, alerting the LAPD who surround the building. McClane takes Heinrich’s bag containing C-4 explosives and detonators.
The police assault the building with a SWAT team and an armored vehicle. The attack is anticipated and James and Alexander massacre the SWAT team with missiles. McClane uses the C-4 to blow up the building floor occupied by James and Alexander, killing them both. Holly’s coworker Harry Ellis attempts to mediate between Hans and McClane for the return of the detonators. McClane refuses to return them causing Gruber to execute Ellis. While checking the explosives attached to the roof, Gruber is confronted by McClane. Gruber passes himself off as an escaped hostage and is given a gun by McClane. Gruber attempts to shoot McClane but finds that the gun has no bullets. Before McClane can act, Karl, Franco, and Fritz arrive. McClane kills Fritz and Franco, but is forced to flee, leaving the detonators behind.
FBI agents arrive and take command of the police situation outside, ordering the building’s power be shut off. The power loss disables the vault’s final lock as Gruber had anticipated, allowing them to access the bonds. Gruber demands that a helicopter arrive on the roof for transport—his intention is to detonate the explosives on the roof to kill the hostages and to fake the deaths of his men and himself. Karl finds McClane and the two fight. Meanwhile Gruber views a news report by Richard Thornburg that features McClane’s children, causing Gruber to realize that McClane is Holly’s husband. The terrorists order the hostages to the roof, but Gruber takes Holly with him to use against McClane. McClane seemingly kills Karl and heads to the roof. He kills Uli and sends the hostages back downstairs before the explosives detonate, destroying the roof and the FBI helicopter.
Theo goes to the parking garage to retrieve their getaway vehicle but is knocked unconscious by Argyle who had been trapped in the garage during the siege. A weary McClane finds Holly with Gruber and his remaining men and knocks Kristoff unconscious. McClane surrenders his machine gun to spare Holly, but then distracts Gruber and Eddie by laughing, allowing him to grab a concealed handgun taped to his back. McClane kills Eddie and shoots Gruber in the shoulder, sending him crashing through a window. Gruber prevents himself from falling by holding onto Holly by her watch. McClane manages to release the watch and Gruber falls to his death on the street below.
McClane and Holly are escorted from the building and meet Powell in person. Karl emerges from the building disguised as a hostage and attempts to shoot McClane, but he is gunned down by Powell. Argyle crashes through the parking garage door in the limo. Thornburg arrives and attempts to interview McClane, but is punched by Holly. McClane and Holly are driven away by Argyle
One can never go wrong with some, pardon the pun, “die hard” action. This is what brings me to the classic 80s action flick, Die Hard.
It may come as a surprise to many that I had actually never seen this before. Why is that, you may ask? Well, upon its release, I was too young to see R-movies. Hell, I couldn’t even go to a PG movie by myself back then. Second, I keep thinking about watching these, especially since either Spike or AMC seem to have it on loop, but for some reason I I just don’t think the watered down, er…edited TV version would do it justice, especially after seeing what they did to Crank on Syfy and even how much they watered down a wholesome film like Grease on ABC Family. Strangely enough, though, they seem to leave the Harry Potter movies alone, and even add stuff to those, but that’s a topic for another day.
What is this about? Well, John MacClane, played by Bruce Willis, is visiting his estranged wife in L.A. He arrives at this party straight off the plane and goes upstairs to change clothes. While he is changing, the building is put under siege by a group of (German?) terrorists. Being a cop, MacClane’s hero factor kicks in and, well, he begins to throw a monkey wrench in their plans and become the proverbial thorn in their sides.
No, there isn’t much else to it, but there is lots of action. Remember the days when films actually could do this without a ton of special effects? Well, this is one of the prime examples of what filmmakers have forgotten to do, because it works so well and has gone on to become such a memorable flick.
Yes, there are explosions and gunfire, but they don’t take away from the overall film they way such things seem to do in this day and age. If anything, they enhance it, especially since they tie in with the story and whatnot. Still, I’m sure there are those out there that think this was too much. To those people I have to wonder what they thought they were watching because it is no secret that this film is good ol’ 80s violence!
The story is quite appealing, but I wonder why they used Germans as opposed to just some whacked out group of mercenaries, for instance. I’m not saying it didn’t work, just that it had me scratching my head out of curiosity.
This film should be known for introducing the film world to a couple of major entities. The first, in his big screen debut (and while he still had hair), is Bruce Willis. Who knew he’d become such a big action star, but this is what put him on that path. While he doesn’t really have anything difficult to do here, it is still impressive, especially considering its his first foray into the big time.
The second debut is Alan Rickman. If I’m not mistaken, this is his first U.S. film as well as big budget debut. Whether he did any films across the pond, I’m not so sure about, though. As always, he out acts any and everyone in the entire cast, but the German accent didn’t really work for me.
All in all, Die Hard is one of those pictures that really should be seen at some point before you die. I love mindless action flicks, and while this has a bit more of a plot that I’d like, it still is right up my alley. Now, for those of you looking for some kind of random love story shoe horned in, you won’t find it here. For everyone else, check it out and enjoy!
4 1/2 out of 5 stars