As Die Hard reaches its 30th birthday, we celebrate 10 moments that remind us why we love this classic Hollywood action film time and time again.
Die Hard is now rightly recognised as one of Hollywood’s great action films. Indeed, it set the formula for the modern against-all-odds thrillers that were inspired by John McTiernan’s high concept 1988 movie, launched Bruce Willis as a movie star, and proved the catalyst behind a successful franchise that has spawned at least two great sequels.
“Now I Have A Machine Gun, Ho Ho Ho”
After dispatching his first terrorist, John McClane (Bruce Willis) manages to steal the villain’s machine gun. In typical sharp-tongued style, the New York cop taunts the bad guys by scrawling “Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho” on the dead guy’s jumper. Nice festive touch, John!
The Watch And The Fall
Hans Gruber’s death is fittingly epic. McClane initially tricks him into thinking he has thrown his weapon away. He’s actually concealing a handgun – armed with his last two bullets – behind his back with box tape. Like an outlaw in a quick-draw shoot-out, the New York cop dispatches the last of the villains only for a dying Gruber to grab McClane’s wife and pull her out of the window. His grip on the woman is loosened when McClane unclips the watch strap, allowing the timepiece and the terrorist to fall to their doom.
The watch, of course, comes with subtext having been given to McClane’s wife from a former colleague (now dead having tried to save his own skin by cosying up to the terrorists). The colleague had irked McClane principally for trying to get his estranged wife into bed but also for putting the lives of the hostages at risk. Getting Gruber and the watch was, as they say, killing two birds with one stone.
It Gets Personal: McClane And Karl Do Battle
McClane’s spat with the last of the terrorists to die gets personal after Karl’s brother becomes the bare-footed cop’s first kill. Karl (Alexander Godunov) is fearless and a little bit psychotic, thus McClane more than meets his match when the pair eventually lock horns. Weapons are discarded as they brawl near the tower’s roof with the cop often coming second best in the exchanges. But the wily hero uses his streetwise tactics to string some low-hanging industrial chains around Karl’s neck, leaving his supposedly dead body hanging from the rooftop as the hostages escape the roof.
Make Fists With Your Toes
Die Hard is a lesson movie. Oh, you didn’t know? Well, if proof is needed, look no further than the knowledge McClane is armed with before his next plane journey. As one passenger advises him, when you get where you’re going take off your shoes and socks and make fists with your toes to overcome a fear of flying. It’s the catalyst for raising the tension as our hero tries to save the day with nothing on his feet.
Ensuring he always has the upper hand, McClane never misses a chance to give the terrorists the proverbial “middle finger”. One of the film’s most quoted lines appears as he closes a verbal spat with bad guy Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) with “Yippee ki-yay, mother******”.
Welcome To The Party, Al!
Detective Al Powell wasn’t expecting his Christmas Eve to be so eventful. However, after reacting to a 911 distress call and finding nothing to concern him at the terrorist-controlled skyscraper (thanks to the bad guys pretending to be the tower’s security guards), McClane realises the only way to get the message across is to throw the body of a recently killed villain out of the window. With the aim of an expert marksman, the body lands directly on Powell’s windscreen causing the LAPD street cop to crash his car and call in the cavalry.
Gruber And McClane Meet
In one of the film’s inspired scenes (it was not originally part of the script), Hans Gruber and John McClane meet when the terrorist group’s leader goes to the roof to check the explosives they’ve set up are still ready to go. It’s a memorable moment as the audience is armed with the knowledge of who he is but McClane, initially, has no clue, thinking him instead to be a hostage who has managed to escape.
Saving The Day With A Computer Monitor & C-4
When the SWAT team gets destroyed trying to storm the Nakatomi building, McClane is almost helpless to stop the terrorists killing the injured cops. However, having nabbed a bag from one of the bad guys containing C-4, he fashions a bomb out of a computer screen monitor, a power cable and an office chair, dropping the explosive device down the lift shaft. It explodes, killing the two terrorists tasked with repelling the SWAT team’s advance.
Karl Comes Back From The Dead
Karl cares less about riches and political gain and more about revenge. Hanging him by his neck is not enough to stop this psychopath. He returns after we’ve all breathed a sigh of relief. We thought it was all over but it wasn’t. Al Powell, acknowledging his moment in the heroic spotlight, enjoys one of those great character arc finales as the family-man, a cop who put his gun away after an accidental shooting, finds the courage to use his six-shooter once again when it really matters.
Jumping Off A Roof Is Never A Good Thing
McClane, after dispatching Karl, heads to the Nakatomi building’s roof to tell the hostages to make their way back downstairs because the terrorists intend to blow it up. But his own route becomes blocked so he uses a fire hose as a makeshift rope to jump off the roof just as it blows. He survives the explosion only to find himself hanging 35 storeys high. Our hero manages to break through a window just as the fire hose becomes loose. And as the fire hose’s heavy metal reel begins to fall, McClane, still attached to it, manages to untangle himself just in time to avoid being dragged to his death.
Over to you: what are your fave Die Hard moments?
Written and Compiled by Dan Stephens
DIE HARD – 30TH ANNIVERSARY arrives on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ & Digital Download May 14