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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20%
Average: 1.82%
Pretty Bad: 0.91%
Total Crap: 1.82%

4 reviews, 86 user ratings

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Die Hard
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Masterpiece and the Best of Its Kind."
5 stars

After a moderate success with his big-screen starring debut, "Blind Date", and a flat-out dismal failure with "Sunset" (both directed by Blake Edwards), Bruce Willis seemed destined to get booted right back to the prime-time TV hell. Luckily, the atypical casting of him here proved to be a stroke of genius -- he's phenomenal as the action hero of this phenomenal action film.

Based upon a truly mediocre novel, Die Hard tells the tale of an NYPD officer (played by a plucky Bruce Willis, in a role turned down by Richard Gere) and his attempts to outwit a gang of European terrorists who've seized control of a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper on Christmas Eve. His estranged wife (the appealing Bonnie Bedilia) is one of the hostages, and the leader of the terrorists (a brilliant Alan Rickman) -- whose dress, demeanor, and intelligence suggest a Wall Street investment banker -- is prone to equal bits of self-admiration and cold-blooded violence. The central gimmick -- McClane running around the building clad only in undershirt and pants (sans socks and shoes) dusting off terrorists singlehandedly -- is palpably absurd, but John McTiernan's muscular direction keeps all of the outlandish story aspects intelligently aligned; we have that rare feeling of knowing we're in the hands of a director who knows exactly what he's doing, so we feel comfortable giving ourselves over to his 'vision' and leaving our common-sense detectors at the concession stand. The action sequences are, quite simply, the best ever filmed, with McTiernan's imaginative staging making the most of the limited set pieces; and when the action transports the audience out of the building and to the goings-on of the LAPD and FBI, the tension (which you could cut barbed wire with) is expertly sustained. But the film's secret weapon is its off-hand humor. Whether it's the nifty set of one-liners the gifted screenwriters have afforded Willis (as they similarly afforded Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.) or a bit of humor that's agreeably understated (like a SWAT officer pricking his finger on a rose bush), it helps sustain a jovially entertaining mood to help offset the sometimes-gory violence. Even a go-for-the-Oscar scene in a bathroom, with Willis tearfully telling a fellow officer on a radio to tell his wife he's sorry, comes off better than it should. I saw Die Hard at a sneak preview without expecting anything great from the director of Predator and the star of tv's Moonlighting. Suffice to say, I (along with practically everyone in the not-quite-packed theatre) were left stunned and filled with unbridled admiration. Sixteen years later, I still am.

The first sequel had its moments but was too mechanically executed by Renny Harlin. The one after that, which was helmed by McTiernan, was more spirited and fun, but it still lacked the organic clarity of the brilliant original. Accept no substitutes.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/13/04 23:33:17
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Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

7/16/18 morris campbell classic action flick with a great villian 4 stars
12/24/13 Michelle O 'Yippie Kai Yay" all the way!!! 5 stars
12/21/11 jcar a very good action movie with a great lead in bruce, yippy!! 4 stars
12/21/11 jcar a awesome action movie with great lead in bruce, good movie fun! 4 stars
9/03/10 S. West One of my favourite films EVER, and so funny! Yippee-ki-yay! 5 stars
1/01/10 Dane Youssef Perhaps the first of it's kind. Willis was made for the role. Worth seeing again and again. 5 stars
12/20/09 IndyX If you hate this movie, you hate life. Please kill yourself Now. 5 stars
12/07/09 JPA Classic, brilliant film that never loses its appeal 5 stars
8/20/09 Jeff Wilder The greatest action movie ever? You bet! Action, humor and a heartbeat. Works perfectly. 5 stars
4/13/09 Dane Youssef One of the hallmarks of the whole action genre. The definitive movie of Willis' career. 5 stars
12/04/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
9/22/08 don fun 4 stars
2/08/08 Anthony Feor It's awesome! 5 stars
12/18/07 MP Bartley The greatest action film to ever come out of America. 5 stars
12/06/07 Pamela White Great action and great effects firm plot and bruce is macho 5 stars
10/01/07 J GREAT! Tons of action, omg 5 stars
6/28/07 --- The coolest action movie ever made 5 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega This is what action flicks are, and should be. 5/5. 5 stars
6/04/07 Quigley Bruce Willis is awesome. This movie totally rocks. An action masterpiece 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Plot: willis plays american who shoots germans. germans die. willis wins. 5 stars
3/09/07 johnnyfog Cool villain, I actually hoped he would win. Really good movie! 5 stars
2/27/07 key Prick flick rubbish. 1 stars
2/14/07 johnnyfog Rickman's german accent sucks. Otherwise, no complaints 5 stars
12/25/06 William Goss Possibly the pinnacle of the genre. Relentlessly entertaining. 5 stars
12/16/06 David Pollastrini great fx 3 stars
10/20/06 MP Bartley I literally don't know what to add...aprt from the full five fat stars 5 stars
9/22/06 Booksworm This movie FUCKING ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/11/06 rabdalas Mercy, this is a nail-biter. Non-stop adrenaline ride. 5 stars
2/24/06 ES Best action movie ever- McClane is one cool mo-fo 5 stars
11/22/05 Stefan Halka It's been said before and I will say it again: one of the best action movies. Period. 5 stars
10/26/05 cooler Fuck This is the best action movie ever.FUCK YEAH WILLIS KICKS ASS 5 stars
9/02/05 Eden Probably the best action film ever made 5 stars
8/07/05 Movielover Screw Roger Ebert, this movie is awesome!!! 5 stars
8/03/05 Brandy Harrington iT'S FUN ASS SHIITE! 5 stars
7/26/05 Jake The Citizen Kane of Action movies 5 stars
5/28/05 tony great movie! Action movie lovers watch out because this is the best cop movie in its time 5 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold OK on the action, but the characters are fantastic, unforgettable. 4 stars
4/01/05 Richard Box Forget The Matrix . This is the best action movie ever ! 5 stars
2/28/05 Jeff Anderson A great action film & Willis' TERRIFIC! Gleason & Atherton's characters are really STUPID!! 4 stars
1/10/05 keithers.. A hero with realism...and great action 5 stars
10/31/04 G-man great plot, and action.....excellent 5 stars
10/15/04 dave yi pee ki yay mother fucker 5 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Action classic from the 80ies 4 stars
7/25/04 Ron Newbold This is a fun action packed film 4 stars
7/24/04 Jack Reynolds Die Hard is simply my favourite film, although it is serious , it's also very funny! 5 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz Have to see 5 stars
7/21/04 arctic Best one of trilogy with great execution 5 stars
7/20/04 godan Great plot, great story, great action! What more can ya ask for? 5 stars
7/19/04 twilliams606 One of the best action movies I have seen. 4 stars
7/18/04 Richard totally awesome - years best 5 stars
7/18/04 Onyeabo Monago Great stuff. So many action movies have bit off of it over the years - with good reason. 4 stars
7/17/04 legend One of the best action films ever. 5 stars
7/17/04 Raymond Lee wow! Love this movie 5 stars
7/15/04 Daveman Gotta love it. You get the feeling everyone had fun making this. 5 stars
5/11/04 J.Peckerfoot The benchmark for all action movies since.Even my mum likes it. 5 stars
4/07/04 Sig An Instant Classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/05/03 Ray I dont feel like writing anything 5 stars
11/27/03 John still the one to beat as far as great action movies go 5 stars
5/11/03 123 great funny action film! 5 stars
2/03/03 Turtle This is the best pure action flick you're ever gonna find. Anywhere. 5 stars
1/13/03 Timothy Dineen BEST CHRISTMAS ACTION FLICK EVER! 5 stars
1/01/03 Britishlover Wow, do I love Alan Rickman! Why oh why couldn't Gruber have won? 4 stars
9/01/02 Charles Tatum Better than part 2 5 stars
8/01/02 Kyle Well then fuck you, Andrew. Who WAS right for the role? 5 stars
7/25/02 CVJ Bloody brilliant one of the best action movies 5 stars
6/04/02 Film Dude Dayum. 5 stars
1/25/02 murat great action you will not sit at your seat! 5 stars
11/24/01 Shams Huque An action pioneering film. Alan Rickman is superb. 5 stars
11/01/01 Andrew Carden Pretty Good Actiomn Movie With Great Visuals, but Bruce Isn't Right For This Role. 4 stars
9/15/01 Monster W. Kung Pure entertainment, but a really good film at that. 4 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk The best shoot-em-up action vehicle. Others try...none achieve. 5 stars
8/07/01 Joe Zappa One of the best action movies. Halliwell can kiss my black ass even though I'm white! 5 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg Best action movie ever made . 5 stars
6/28/01 Geebo Extremely entertaining. Great performance by both Rickman and Willis. 5 stars
6/06/01 Race Bannon One of the standard-setters of modern action movies 5 stars
5/31/01 Ben Donnelly Magnificent actions scenes, definetely an awesome movie 5 stars
4/12/01 fifu the greatest old style action movie ever. 4 stars
1/07/01 R.W. Welch Unusually good flat-out action flick that manages to retain a degree of believability. 4 stars
12/29/00 EvilDead-Ash THE GREATIST MOVIE EVER WITH 2 and 3 and The Matrix 5 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin Not the best, but still good 3 stars
10/22/00 YOUR Movie Expert The Unbeatable Original.....Intense and Very Funny. 5 stars
9/22/00 White Rabbit The most influential action movie of all time, but NOT the best 4 stars
8/17/00 Elvisfan Willis was great? Adjust your medication or see a real movie for a fucking change 1 stars
6/24/00 Naushad Khanji a one of a kind action movie that takes your breath away. 5 stars
12/01/99 Trip Changed the face of action movies. A true classic.. 5 stars
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  15-Jul-1988 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004



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