Die Hard (1988)
Action, Thriller, 131 minutes
Directed by John McTiernan
Starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and Reginald VelJohnson
Nominated for four technical Oscars, Die Hard is one of the movies from this list which fun to watch without having any real substance or profound message. It's a guilty pleasure.
The plot is predictable and simple. A gang of terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Rickman) decides to take hostages in a high-rise building while attempting to steal bonds from the vault. John McClane (Willis) is on vacation to visit his estranged wife and she's one of the hostages. McClane makes a base on the upper floors and tries to pick off the gang one at a time. His only contact is a radio link with a police officer (VelJohnson).
This movie is pure action with a little suspense. Do you think McClane will succeed? Like I said, it's predictable. But Willis plays this role well. Complete with one-liners and a recurring catchphrase, the four-movie franchise is extremely corny. Somehow it doesn't matter because it's fun. Sometimes I like to watch something where I don't have to ponder the plot and guess what will happen next. If you just want some mindless entertainment with good acting and decent execution, Die Hard fits the bill.
on May 31, 2004
Director: John McTiernan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedalia, Alexander Gudonov, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, James Shigeta, Reginald Vel Johnson.
Running Time: 132 minutes.
Rated R for extreme violence, language, and brief nudity.
Fresh of his success with the popular television series "Moonlighting", Bruce Willis takes his stab at the motion picture business with full force. "Die Hard" works on many levels--mainly as an action flick with a powerful leading star that adds a touch of normalcy and humor--but it also discusses more important views such as the criticism of the culturization of Japanese technology that was taking place at the time as well as the horrific, ongoing threat of terrorism. It s a film that shows just how vulnerable any business or workplace really is to a terrible force but also how one man can stand up to the challenge and ultimately make a difference.
John McClane (Willis) is a New York City cop who travels to the Los Angeles area to reconcile with his seperated wife (Bonnie Bedalia) and family, who left him to pursue a lucrative job with a Japanese financial industry skyscraper. While participating in a Christmas Eve party, the building is overtaken by German terrorists who want to use the hostage Japanese executives to break into the company safe. McClane watches as the head terrorist (played brilliantly by Alan Rickman) blows the brains out of the Japenese CEO realizes that the game is on.
With the help of a gun-shy cop (Reginald Vel Johnson--yes, that's right--Mr. Winslow from "Family Matters") and to the annoyance of police chief Paul Gleason, McClane runs around like a chicken with its head cut off attempting to save the hostages. While on the explosive one-man war, Bruce Willis plays McClane in a very believable, humorous fashion--which is the quintessential reason for the film being one of the best of its kind. "Die Hard" is a non-stop frenzy of excellent action sequences, a superb and witty screenplay written by Jeb Stuart and Steven D. de Souza (adapted from the Roderick Thorp novel), and top-notch, edge-of-your-seat direction from McTiernan. The Five Star Collection DVD features a deleted scene and some excellent commentary from cast and crew. One of the best action films of the 1980's. A superb roller-coaster ride of thrills.
I don't like typical action movies, but I love Die Hard!
Off-duty cop (Bruce Willis) saves hostages and dispatches the sadistic bad guys against overwhelming odds - a simple plot, done many times since this 1988 thriller, but never done as effectively. The difference: This movie was well-written, well-acted, and well-directed. The script balances heart-pounding action with funny one-liners that always make me laugh out loud. Bruce Willis is wonderful as the Rambo-esque superguy who outwits, outplays, and outlasts the heavily-armed killers, and reveals just enough of his tender side to endear his character to the audience.
Willis is backed up by outstanding supporting players who add depth and surprises: Reginald Veljohnson is the sympathetic cop Willis talks to via radio during his ordeal. Veljohnson is superb as the buddy who grounds the movie. Paul Gleason, whose forte is playing self-important fools, injects much humor into his role as Deputy Police Chief. Alan Rickman plays the witty, urbane gang leader with devilish flair. He is assisted by the talented Alexander Godunov as a ruthless killer. De'voreaux White shines in a small but important role as a helpful limo driver. There is even a funny bit with two FBI agents, both named Johnson (no relation).
The production values are top quality, the action never stops, and each stunt is unique and utterly stupendous. I heartily recommend Die Hard to those who love action films and those who just love excellence in film.
on February 4, 2004
Don't make the same mistake that I made. Don't wait very long to watch this film, especially if you love those movies were things go "boom."
Die Hard is just that kind of movie, and it's done in such a way that puts the many action movies being put out following it to shame.
If you're a fan of the modern action flicks, then Die Hard sounds like old hat. A group of international terrorists, with one goal in mind and a bunch of hostages that will be their ticket to that goal. Only one man can stop them.
The joy of this movie is that it seems every person who speaks in this movie is just as important as the main one, John McClane (Bruce Willis). Most characters have their own little quirks, and even the cronie terrorists seem to have a personality, something that you'll likely never see in action movies these days.
McClane is a New York City cop entering the confusing atmosphere of Los Angeles, traveling to see his wife who had traveled out here to capitalize on a big promotion. Accompanied to the large building by Argyle (De'voreaux White in an unappreciated role, no doubt), McClane makes his entrance to the Christmas party. After finding that his wife has returned to her maiden name of Gennero, McClane meets with Mrs. McClane (Bonnie Bedelia), but the reunion is short-lived and rather unsatisfactory. As John kicks himself mentally, the terrorists make their entrance, led by a character later to be revealed as Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). From there, the movie lifts your spirits up, crushes them down, and then repeats. When it's all said and done, you'll have wrapped up quite the satisfying movie experience.
Looking back on this movie 16 years after its initial release, it's easy to pass this off as a stereotypical movie. However, this movie created the stereotype of the daring hero who will never say die, the cunning terrorists who will send wave after wave of big, bulky thugs to take down the protagonist.
When you see this movie, you'll truly appreciate the action genre again. This movie was created in 1988, but it could easily pass for today's standards, and probably would bank some good money if given a re-release to the big screen (iMAX, anyone?).
Perhaps it's not worth a second look after your first viewing, since there isn't really much to pick up on in a second viewing, except truly sitting back and enjoying just how well this movie "clicked."
However, for now all you can hope for is a big spankin' plasma TV, which is just as good to view this action classic.
Rooting for the good guy has never been so much fun.
on December 18, 2003
This was only Bruce Willis' second film of his career, and the one that really made him a star, which spawned two sequels and another on the way. I was a tad disappointed. OK, you get to see Bruce in a teeny tiny vest, with muscles to rival Arnie's, and then he decides to rip that vest off cos it was getting too dirty and needed washed ... But what else is there really to look at? A lot of stunts, glamorising of guns (can't they punch or anything?), and not very much else.
Bruce is hot in this film. Although, he's kinda ruined for me now after watching this - as he smokes throughout. Not a thing I like to see in films, but who cares. He's stressed, he's killed some bad guys, lets take out a cigarette. And gets his feet cut to smithereens.
The great Bonnie Bedelia stars alongside him as his ever doting wife, who's just decided to go back to her maiden name - does this ever get explained? Maybe he's cheated or something. She was a great actress in Switched At Birth (TV movie) and she was OK here, although we didn't see much of her.
Alan Rickman as the bad guy was pretty good. Although how Bruce didn't see through him when they met and swapped life stories and cigarettes was beyond me. Alan's character, Hanz, didn't even try to disguise his voice. Hello, see through that straight away.
I did like this film, although not sure if its one of these films that is rewatchable. Maybe give the other two a go. Maybe.
on November 16, 2003
Oh Gawd! Not another explosion movie!
Well, in fact, that's right. It's _not_ just another explosion movie. It's not a generic execution of a formula. It's not all special effects. It's actually worth seeing.
Why you ask? Well, it's got hook. It's got a villain that is expertly crafted by the screen writers, and absolutely perfectly portrayed by Alan Rickman. This character, Hans Gruber, is despicable, complex, and deliciously hate-worthy. It's his job to drive this film. If you don't hate him, the only thing left is... well, explosions. But you do hate him, and that fact makes all the difference.
Rickman is so good at playing Gruber that, while the character is secretly hijacking a skyscraper, the actor is publicly hijacking the entire movie. I own this DVD, and I gotta tell ya, every time I see him get it in the end, I stand up and cheer. It's that kind of film. (Oh. You haven't seen it, and I just ruined it for you by telling you the villain gets it? Yeah right. Sorry 'bout that.:-)
If Rickman is the guy I love to hate, Willis is the guy I hate to love. Lots of violence. Lots of explosions in most of what he does, but check out _Twelve Monkeys_ or _Fifth Element_. They work, and so does he. Willis's character in _Die Hard_, John McClane, has depth. Marital conflict. Head trips. The audience cares about him too. He's not just a slip filling the hero role. Willis has a way of delivering, and allowing others around him to shine.
Bottom line: This is to action films as Hank Williams is to Country music: it engages people who normally dislike the genre. Even if you aren't the action film type, _Die Hard_ is worth a try.
on October 26, 2003
The Bruce Willis character is obviously someone who will lay his life on the line when push comes to shove. I wish our current president had taken a page from the John McLane handbook instead of going AWOL from the National Guard (of all the places that you can go AWOL from that has to be the lamest). What if instead taking out the terrorists, McLane had decided to let them escape and then formed a task force to 'go after' them using taxpayer money? What if he had never found the head honcho terrorist but instead decided that there were other terrorists who weren't as tough or cunning to fight and had a lot of natural resources which coincidentally McLane's family business was capable of making use of?
All of these Democrats served in the military: Al Gore, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Wes Clark, Gray Davis, David Bonior (one of the Baghdad Boys), and Max Cleland served in Vietnam. Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Chuck Rangel served in Korea. Jimmy Carter ('No president of the United States in the twentieth century served more time in the military than Carter' - John Eisenhower), John Glenn and George McGovern served in WW II.
All of these Republicans dodged the draft: George W Bush, Dick 'I had other priorities during Vietnam' Cheney, Tom 'the minorities took all the good positions in the army so I had to be a Bugman during 'Nam (by the way I'm Not French)' DeLay, Rudy Giuliani, Dennis Hastert, Trent Lott, Bill Frist, John Ashcroft, Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Ronal Reagan, Saxby Chambliss, George Will, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Bennett, Michael Savage, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Ralph Reed and Ted Nugent.
What political outfit do you think John McLane would have voted for?
on October 21, 2003
This was a fantastic action flick, but the deeper message cannot be ignored. John McLane found himself among what everyone perceived as "terrorists." He quickly assumed a "cowboy" posture, even going so far as to adopt the name "Roy" (Rogers). He then acted unilaterally against the terrorists, seeking to kill them whenever he could. He did not seek to form a coalition, he did not crawl whining to the United Nations, he did not adhere to the principles of diversity, tolerance, inclusion and compassion -- he just got to work killing the terrorists. The result he obtained was wiping out the terrorist threat because, if this unilateral cowboy had not killed the terrorists, they would have killed him. Shouldn't John have reached out to these fellow human beings? Shouldn't he have sat in the corner doing yoga, asking himself "Why do they hate us?" Shouldn't he have considered the culture from which they came, or their religious history? Why did people enjoy this film so much, seeing a guy behave as John did, merely greasing a terrorist whenever he saw one and completely eliminating the terrorist threat?
on October 2, 2003
I hadn't watched this movie since seeing it in a real, walk-in theater back in l988. I still remember how electrifying all of this was--and it absolutely galvanized the packed theater, with everyone cheering and whooping and stomping the floor! I watched the DVD version last night and was once more completely hooked. From the first frame to the last, you're galvanized by Bruce Willis like you've never seen him and action and characters who instantly connect. Even the fashion and backdrops that make this an 80s film don't bother you. The characters were delineated so brilliantly that they're timeless. You watch this flick, with 9/11/02 instantly coming to mind and it makes you think of how innocent we all were--when we had villians as simple as Alan Rickman's money-grubbing plan that had nothing to do with terrorism but everything to do with greed. It makes me think of those fantastic Republic serials of the 40s that were edited for lightning fast pace, with thrills galore! Even though "Die Hard" has been relentlessly ripped off countless times, Willis and this master crew of action geniuses bring this movie to electrifying life. It's vibrant, visual, dynamic aura makes "Die Hard" a classic that will be watched a century from now, along with similar action classics, like "Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938)and Republic Studio's collection of mythical serial thrillers like "G-Men versus the Black Dragon" and "Daredevils of the Red Circle."
on September 24, 2003
The first in the awesome "Die Hard" movie trilogy is a dynamite, terrifying, and explosive action-packed adventure that has lasted through the ages and still is an unstoppable movie paralleled by so few, even now. In a few ways, it's gotten more unsettling considering how much worse has actually happened in real life than what takes place in this movie. Still, even with all the bad stuff happening, I refuse to let it ruin the fun of 1988s "Die Hard", one of my favorite action movies of all time.
The whole adventure begins as just another day for Mr. John McClane, an off-duty police officer who travels from snowy New York City, to visit his estranged wife Holly McClane who he hasn't spoken to in quite a long time following marital turmoil. Holly McClane works in a high-rise office building called Nakatomi Plaza in sunny Los Angeles and is having a party celebrating a business success. However, the supposedly clear blue sky/big sur paradise is turned into a massive cesspool of a nightmare when a vicious band of renegade terrorists led by Hans Gruber break into the lobby of the Nakitomi Plaza and take over the whole place, and holding the partygoers hostage on the 30th floor and sealing off all of the exits and entrances. John McClane whose now on his own, leads a one man army (That's himself) to rescue the hostages and to bring down the vicious group of terrorists. An LAPD officer named Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) receives word of an emergency call from the building but finds nothing suspicious in the lobby (according to what he thought) but when about to take off, believing that it was "nothing more than a wild goose chase", he gets a shocking wake up call and then, the action really gets going when a large group of LAPD headed by the extremely strict and sometimes mean-spirited Chief of LAPD Sergeant Dwayne Johnson and F.B.I. task forces arrive in attempts to fight the terrorists but only McClane, by himself, can be able to face off against the bad guys and from here, it's a very wild ride.
It was "Die Hard" that made me a fan of Bruce Willis's movies and while a good number of others he did such as "Armageddon" are excellent works, the "Die Hard" movie trilogy is to me, his crowning achievements in his career. He is truly awesome in this movie, playing the often disgruntled and stressed-out NYPD officer. The one who truly steals the spotlight is none other than the then newcomer Alan Rickman. Rickman's role as the quiet but dangerously cunning terrorist ringleader Hans Gruber is absolutely unforgettable and it deservedly brought Rickman's incredible talent to light. Although Bruce Willis' character is the main one in this movie, I have to hand it to ya, Alan Rickman is the shining star in this movie and his character Hans Gruber is by far the best of all of the Die Hard villains. I'm not too familiar with his movies as of writing this review but the ones I've seen ("Harry Potter" "Sorcerer's Stone", "Chamber of Secrets, "Galaxy Quest") with him in it are great. Then we got the warmhearted character Al Powell played by none other than the "Family Matters" star Reginald VelJohnson. Reginald was perfect for the role of playing the warmhearted Al Powell and made for some excellent extra entertainment. I couldn' have thought of a better choice. Overall, "Die Hard" really benefits from a brilliant cast, excellent plot, and astounding directing by John McTierman and from all of this, this film succeeds on so many levels that there are no peers except it's sequels but they are different in their own unique way.
While I could argue about whether this or 1990's "Die Harder" being superior, This movie is without a doubt the most fun and original of them all, even if it is rivaled by it's 1990 sequel but there's no denying that this one though is the most praised and loved classic of them all. "Die Hard" spawned an endless conveyor belt of action movies that borrowed a lot of action and plot patterns very similar to these movies. Some were great, some were duds but "Die Hard" is the grandfather of them all. Bruce Willis has made quite a few great movies since this one such as "Fifth Element", & "Armageddon" but the Die Hard movies to me, remain his crowning achievements of his career.
The DVD includes the movie itself on the disc one with theatrical trailors and improved visual quality. The second disc contains commentary (whoopy..), interviews with the actors, as well as deleted scenes that failed to make it into the main movie itself. As for me, I'm not a fan of deleted scenes and I usually find them to be quite boring if you ask me. As a result, I'm in no major hurry to replace my VHS edition any time soon. The movie transfer is amazing, as the original version was well ahead of it's time when released but the DVD transfer improves it to make it an even more hard-hitting edge classic for the ages.
All in all, there are lots of great action movies out there that have been spawned in the wake of the Die Hard movie trilogy but I recommend this movie out of all of them. While most of the other action movies are based on just action and fun, "Die Hard" takes those elements and blends them with intelligent dialog, awesome directing and unbelievable cinematography that propels the Die Hard movies so many miles above their peers. I also recommend "Speed" (Avoid "Cruise Control") as that one in it's own ways, rivals the punch of "Die Hard" and has even more action. Overall though, no action movies even the sequels have toyed with action and fun the way the 1988 original did and thus, this movie is a definite essential. Get the two sequels as well. This movie series started strong with this 1988 original and ended "With A Vengeance" with the "Die Hard 3: With A Vengeance".
I could give this movie countless stars but have to give it a five because that's the highest I'm able to rate it here. Buy the "Ultimate Collection" box set with the movies boxed in one!
I'm finally exhausted of words for now. Enjoy the movie and have a good time!