Die Hard (1988) Movie Review

Die Hard (1988)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Alexander Godunov, Reginald VelJohnson
Director: John McTiernan
Series: Die Hard Movie #1
Release Date: 15 July 1988
Language: English
Length: 131 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars


“NYPD cop John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) plan to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), is thrown for a serious loop when minutes after he arrives at her office, the entire building is overtaken by a group of pitiless terrorists. With little help from the LAPD, wisecracking McClane sets out to single-handedly rescue the hostages and bring the bad guys down. This classic John McTiernan actioner launched Willis into superstardom.” — Netflix.com


The action in this movie is strictly gunfights, explosions and some fistfights. There are no martial arts moves, no wire tricks, just good, old-fashioned macho man brawn. These scenes are well done, if completely unbelievable, and help carry the movie forward. You really don’t know what is going to happen next and you just kind of wait for McClane (Bruce Willis) to pick off the bad guys one by one. While the sets and scenes are a bit dated, it takes me back to the ’80s and it is fun to remember what that era was like. Everything is over the top: hair, clothes and makeup included. The music is mostly Christmas-themed, but there are some really nice classical pieces in there as well and it creates a lovely juxtaposition with the violent thieves and the happy holiday music playing in the background. But by far my favorite part of the film was the humor. There are little one liners and clever comebacks peppered throughout the film and I really enjoyed the relatively witty repartee that was included in the screenplay.

Bruce Willis was made to play the role of John McClane and, even though he has starred in many other movies, I always remember him as this character – especially if he is playing another cop. He has that rogue cowboy personality that movie goers love to watch, but authority figures dread encountering in real life. Yippee-ki-yea! I just realized that Alan Rickman, who plays Hans, the lead villain, is the same actor who plays Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Dude, that guy can really play a villain like no other! I love his voice and he was great in this role. He is a perfect foil for Bruce Willis’s unpredictable character as he is cold, calculating and everything he does is carefully planned. Reginald VelJohnson is a riot as the stereotypical cop who is all about eating snacks and driving around in his squad car rather than hunting down bad guys. He really bonds with McClane and helps move the plot forward with his information and encouragement. He also gets a little moment at the end to play the hero, which is awesome as he doesn’t look like a heroic type of guy. But I cannot leave the acting section without mentioning William Atherton, a reporter who thinks there is no level too low to stoop to to get the story. I hated his guts so he was very successful in his role. I also loved that the director portrayed reporters as idiots and lowlife scum as that is generally how I think of them too!

What can I say? This is a classic Hollywood-summer-blockbuster movie that features some intense action sequences and a good guy beating the odds to take on the team of thuggish bad guys (who all seem to be played by models, by the way, so there is a bit of eye candy in there for you ladies!). What sets this movie apart from so many other movies in this genre is the humor that runs throughout the feature and takes it to another level. The acting is also surprisingly good for your typical action movie and the music is great. I think that this movie set the standard for a new type of action-thriller as we see a lot more humor in action movies now than we ever used to. I also think that we will see this movie for years to come as it is set during the Christmas holidays and there is always some TV channel that pulls it out around the holidays. And I usually watch it because, while I don’t want to go through the effort of renting this movie, I enjoy watching it on TV and remembering the classic moments in this film. There is a lot to recommend this action movie and again, while it is a bit dated, I highly recommend this movie to those who enjoy action films. Especially since you cannot say you are a true fan of the genre if you haven’t seen some of the classics. And make no mistake, this is a classic.


There is a lot of shooting, explosions and fighting. The terrorists have 30 hostages and kill some of them. The police lose some of their men trying to storm the building and save the hostages. People die and you see their bodies with the fake blood running down their faces. If you see this movie on TV, I would say that children ages 14 years old and up can watch it with you. If you rent the DVD, there is quite a bit of strong language in addition to the violence so I would recommend it for ages 18 and up.

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