Die Hard scenario Wiki
Die Hard theatrical poster
Written by Roderick Thorp (novel)
Jeb Stuart
Steven E. de Souza
Directed by John McTiernan
Produced by Lawrence Gordon
Joel Silver
Charles Gordon (executive)
Beau Marks (associate)
Starring Bruce Willis
Alan Rickman
Alexander Godunov
Bonnie Bedelia
Reginald VelJohnson
Music by Michael Kamen
Stephen McLaughlin
Cinematography by Jan de Bont
Editing by John F. Link
Frank J. Urioste
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release Date July 15, 1988
Rated R
Run time 132 min.
Budget $28,000,000 (est.)
Grossed $138,708,852
Followed by Die Hard 2

Die Hard is the first movie in the Die Hard film series. It was released on July 15, 1988, and was written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza and directed by John McTiernan. It was a huge critical and commercial success and propelled the careers of many of the stars. It is still considered one of the greatest action movies of all time, and continues to be relevant in pop culture.

In the film, NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) must fight a group of well-equipped terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) who have seized the Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve to rob a corporate vault containing a million of dollars in bearer bonds. McClane must make sure his wife Holly Gennero (Bonnie Bedelia) and the other hostages stay safe while helping Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) control the situation. Meanwhile, unscrupulous journalist Richard Thornburg (William Atherton) unknowingly makes things harder for McClane.

The movie is based on a 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp titled Nothing Lasts Forever, although the opening credits only say "Based on the novel by Roderick Thorp."


John McClane, a detective with the NYPD, arrives in Los Angeles to attempt a Christmas reunion with his estranged wife Holly. He is taken by limousine driver Argyle to her workplace, the highrise Nakatomi Plaza. Joining the Nakatomi Christmas party, McClane finally finds Holly, and they immediately get into an argument over her use of her maiden name Gennero. Holly leaves John alone in a small room near the party.

A gang led by the German crime boss, Hans Gruber, invades and secures the building, under the pretense of wishing to secure the release of various crime operatives. The party-goers are subdued and it is revealed that the group are really thieves who plan to steal millions of dollars in bearer bonds from the building's security vault. When Holly's boss Takagi does not provide the vault combination, he is killed and Theo, the gang's technical mastermind, begins disabling the sequential vault locks.

McClane manages to slip away during the round-up of the party-goers, albeit without his shoes. His attempt to summon help via the building's fire alarm brings him into confrontation with a gang member named Tony. He kills Tony, prompting the man's vengeful brother Karl to lead a hunt for the policeman through the building. McClane secures the attention of a patrolling LAPD officer, Sergeant Al Powell, by dropping the body of one of his pursuers onto the hood of the officer's car, causing the terrorists to shoot at the car.

The LAPD and the FBI respond in force, but this merely accelerates Gruber's original timetable. McClane continues his fight from within, picking off gang-members one by one, with Powell as his only ally outside the building. After McClane captures Gruber's vital supply of explosive detonators, Gruber finds himself in an unexpected face-to-face confrontation with him; the mastermind's attempt at pretending to be an escaped hostage is successful enough to recover the detonators. Back outside the building, an irresponsible TV reporter named Richard Thornburg accidentally alerts Gruber to the fact that Holly is McClane's wife. He takes her aside as a special hostage.

McClane realizes that Gruber's plan is to blow up the hostages on the roof of the building, covering the gang's escape. McClane gets the hostages back off the roof, but Gruber still sets off the explosion, destroying an FBI helicopter. McClane escapes the blast by jumping over the side of the building with a fire hose around his waist and shooting his way into an office a couple of stories down.

Theo prepares a getaway van for the gang in the underground garage, where Argyle rams his limousine into the van, gets out and knocks Theo out.

McClane confronts Gruber one last time high up in the tower, with Holly being held at gunpoint. McClane tricks Gruber with a faked surrender, then shoots the man, who falls 32 stories to his death. As McClane and his wife leave the building, Karl reappears one last time, and is gunned down by Powell, who had earlier confided to McClane that mistakenly shooting and killing a teenager had rendered him emotionally unable to draw his gun. Holly and John are approached by Thornburg, who is still relentlessly angling for a fresh scoop. Holly punches the reporter, and she and John depart the scene in Argyle's limo.

Cast and characters[]

Law enforcement[]



  • Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber
  • Alexander Godunov as Karl
  • Clarence Gilyard Jr. as Theo
  • Dennis Hayden as Eddie
  • Bruno Doyon as Franco
  • Andreas Wisniewski as Tony
  • Al Leong as Uli
  • Joey Plewa as Alexander
  • Lorenzo Caccialanza as Marco
  • Gérard Bonn as Kristoff
  • Gary Roberts as Heinrich
  • Hans Buhringer as Fritz
  • Wilhelm von Homburg as James


  • De'voreaux White as Argyle
  • William Atherton as Richard Thornburg
  • David Ursin as Harvey Johnson
  • Mary Ellen Trainor as Gail Wallens
  • Taylor Fry as Lucy McClane
  • Noah Land as John McClane Jr.
  • Betty Carvalho as Paulina
  • Frank Cicetti as Nakatomi Security Guard 1
  • Fred Lerner as Nakatomi Security Guard 2
  • Robert Lesser as Airplane passenger
  • Rick Ducommun as Walt
  • Tracy Reiner as Mary


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