Die Hard (film series)

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Die Hard
Die Hard film logo.png
CreatorRoderick Thorp
Original workNothing Lasts Forever
Print publications
NovelsNothing Lasts Forever
58 Minutes
ComicsDie Hard: Year One[1]
Films and television
FilmsDie Hard
Die Hard 2
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Live Free or Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
Video gamesDie Hard
Die Hard Arcade
Die Hard Trilogy
Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas
Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza
Die Hard: Vendetta
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Die Hard
Die Hard film logo.png
CreatorRoderick Thorp
Original workNothing Lasts Forever
Print publications
NovelsNothing Lasts Forever
58 Minutes
ComicsDie Hard: Year One[1]
Films and television
FilmsDie Hard
Die Hard 2
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Live Free or Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
Video gamesDie Hard
Die Hard Arcade
Die Hard Trilogy
Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas
Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza
Die Hard: Vendetta

The Die Hard series is a series of action movies beginning with Die Hard in 1988, based on the 1979 best-selling novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. All five films feature John McClane (played by Bruce Willis), a New York City and Los Angeles police detective.[2] The series so far has run for 26 years.


Die Hard (1988)[edit]

Main article: Die Hard

The first film begins on Christmas Eve when McClane comes to reunite with separated wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) in Los Angeles at her company's Christmas party. Holly left to pursue her career with their two children, and uses her maiden name.

At the fictional Nakatomi Plaza, East German terrorists break in and take the celebrants hostage. McClane escapes detection and hides throughout the building. He kills off the gang and learns their real aim, to steal millions in bearer bonds from the building vault. In the finale, McClane throws the terrorist leader, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), out the window to fall thirty stories.

Die Hard 2 (1990)[edit]

Main article: Die Hard 2

The second film takes place a year after the first, again on Christmas Eve. In Washington, D.C., McClane waits for his wife at Washington Dulles International Airport. Mercenaries led by former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) take over the airport communication systems, stranding planes in the air, including the one with McClane's wife. Colonel Stuart wants to free a captured Latin American dictator (Franco Nero) en route to the airport. McClane discovers the plan, including a conspiracy between Stuart and an Army counter-terrorist unit sent to stop him. He foils their plans and provides a visual landing signal for the circling aircraft by exploding the villains' getaway plane.

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)[edit]

In the third film, McClane is back in New York City, separated from his wife, suspended from the police force, and a borderline alcoholic. A terrorist known only as "Simon" (Jeremy Irons) threatens to blow up various locations in the city unless McClane will play his twisted version of Simon Says, riddles and challenges.

Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), a shopkeeper from Harlem, saves McClane after the first challenge, and reluctantly continues to help. The FBI reveal Simon is the brother of Hans Gruber, killed in the first film. McClane learns revenge is a cover story for robbing the New York Federal Reserve. McClane tracks Simon to the Canadian border. In a helicopter, McClane ends Simon with a handgun and a power line.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)[edit]

Main article: Live Free or Die Hard

The fourth film takes place on Independence Day, over a decade after Die Hard with a Vengeance. McClane is divorced, and estranged from his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Cyber-terrorists hack into computers at the FBI, who send McClane to bring in computer hacker Matthew "Matt" Farrell (Justin Long) for questioning. Assassins hired by terrorist mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) attempt to kill McClane and Farrell. Farrell tells McClane that the terrorists are actually in the middle of a "fire sale" — a crippling cyber-warfare attack on the national infrastructure: power, public utilities, traffic, and other computer-controlled systems. Although the terrorists capture Lucy and Farrell, McClane foils the criminals and saves the hostages.

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)[edit]

The fifth film is set around five years later, mostly in Moscow, Russia and Chernobyl, Ukraine. McClane finds out that his estranged son John "Jack" McClane, Junior (Jai Courtney) was arrested in Moscow for murder. When he arrives at the Moscow courthouse for Jack, Russian terrorists bomb the building and Jack escapes with imprisoned ex-billionaire Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch). In an intense car chase, McClane pursues and saves the pair. Jack, unhappy at the unexpected arrival, reluctantly picks up his father.

When they stop at a CIA safe house in Moscow, McClane learns Jack is a deep-cover CIA operative trying to get close to Komarov for his file that incriminates corrupt, high-ranking Russian official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). Chagarin's henchmen, led by his main enforcer Alik (Radivoje Bukvic), attack the safe house. McClane holds them off, and escapes with Jack and Komarov.

They retrieve a key for the file in Chernobyl, and meet Komarov's daughter Irina (Yuliya Snigir). Irina betrays them to Alik. The McClanes escape, without Komarov. Jack explains Komarov and Chagarin were partners in stealing weapons-grade uranium from Chernobyl, but enemies after the Chernobyl incident.

In Chernobyl, the McClanes learn Komarov wanted the weapons-grade uranium for himself, and killed Alik and Chagarin. Irina, always on the side of her father Komarov, tries to save him. McClane goes after Irina, while Jack chases her father. Jack throws Komarov off of the roof and falls on the rotors of the helicopter and gets shredded to bits. When Irina tries to kill the McClanes, they jump into a pool of rainwater. Irina still crashes her helicopter into the building where they were, and dies in the explosion. The father and son walk away, reconciled.


Before production of A Good Day to Die Hard, Bruce Willis stated that he hoped to retire the character of John McClane after the sixth film. Willis said "At the moment, I can run and I can fight on screen. But there will come a time when I no longer want to do that. That’s when I’ll step away from the Die Hard films".[3]

On February 7, 2013, one week before the release of the fifth film, talk of a sixth film was already beginning. In an interview to promote the fifth film, Bruce Willis simply replied "Yes", if there will be a Die Hard 6.[4] Willis has stated he would like it if Reginald Veljohnson and Bonnie Bedelia would reprise their roles as Al Powell and Holly Gennero for the sixth film. Other possible actors include Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Long, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Jai Courtney.[citation needed] Willem Dafoe has been rumoured to play the film's main antagonist.[citation needed] As of December 2014, the project is still in the early pre-production phase.[citation needed]

Source material for the films[edit]

Die Hard is adapted from the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp.

Die Hard 2 was adapted from the 1987 novel 58 Minutes, by Walter Wager.

Die Hard with a Vengeance was adapted from a script called Simon Says by Jonathan Hensleigh, which was also originally intended to be the original script for Lethal Weapon 4.[5][6][7]

Live Free or Die Hard was based on the 1997 article "A Farewell to Arms" written for Wired magazine by John Carlin.[8]

A Good Day to Die Hard was the first film in the series to come from an original screenplay, and not be based upon any prior works. The original screenplay was penned by Skip Woods.


Box office[edit]

FilmRelease dateBox office revenueBox office rankingBudgetReference
DomesticForeignWorldwideAll time domesticAll time worldwide
Die HardJuly 15, 1988$83,008,852$57,759,104$140,767,956#734$28,000,000[9]
Die Hard 2July 4, 1990$117,540,947$122,490,147$240,031,094#446#445$70,000,000[10]
Die Hard with a VengeanceMay 19, 1995$100,012,499$266,089,167$366,101,666#596#223$90,000,000[11]
Live Free or Die HardJune 27, 2007$134,529,403$249,002,061$383,531,464#336#201$110,000,000[12]
A Good Day to Die HardFebruary 14, 2013$67,349,198$237,304,984$304,654,182#977#314$92,000,000[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Although the first Die Hard has been credited as one of the greatest action movies of all time, critical reaction to its sequels has varied.

The original Die Hard received substantial praise. Pete Croatto of FilmCritic.com called the film "a perfect action movie in every detail, the kind of movie that makes your summer memorable."[14] James Berardinelli wrote that the film "represents the class of modern action pictures and the standard by which they must be judged."[15] Critic Desson Howe wrote that "Willis has found the perfect vehicle to careen wildly onto the crowded L.A. freeway of Lethal Weapons and Beverly Hills Cops."[16] Willis was also called "perfect as the wisecracking John McClane"[15] and "an excellent casting choice as a sardonic action hero."[17] Alan Rickman's portrayal of villain Hans Gruber was described as "marvelous"[18] and "a career-making performance."[19] Gruber also ranked 46 on the villain side of AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains. In 2007, Entertainment Weekly ranked Die Hard the greatest action film of all time.[20]

The first sequel, Die Hard 2, received mixed to positive reviews. Despite only giving the original film two stars, critic Roger Ebert gave this film three and a half stars and called it "terrific entertainment."[21] James Berardinelli called the film "somewhat-muddled but still entertaining."[22] Peter Travers wrote that "however impressively made, Die Hard 2 begins to wear thin."[23]

The third film, Die Hard With a Vengeance, also received mixed reviews. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly stated that while "McTiernan stages individual sequences with great finesse... they don't add up to a taut, dread-ridden whole."[24] James Berardinelli thought that the explosions and fights were "filmed with consummate skill, and were thrilling in their own right."[25] Samuel L. Jackson also received praise for his role in the film. Desson Howe of the Washington Post thought that "the best thing about the movie was the relationship between McClane and Zeus," saying that Jackson was "almost as good as he was in Pulp Fiction."[26]

The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, was praised as being as good as the original. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that the film "is the best in the series, an invigorating return to the style of blockbuster that dominated summers back in the early 1990s."[27] USA Today film critic Claudia Puig said that the film "delivers when it comes to kick-butt, action-packed mayhem," but "as a convincing techno-thriller, it doesn't really work."[28]

The fifth, A Good Day to Die Hard, was generally panned by critics. The sequel stands with a rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the worst-reviewed film of the series.[29] Critics lambasted the installment for "[entering] generic action movie territory", as written by reviewer James Bernardinelli,[30] with a "cliched [and] uninspired script". Peter Rainer of Christian Science Monitor wrote, "John's appeal was always his ordinariness, but director John Moore has him surviving more explosions than Wile E. Coyote, and with hardly a scratch."[31] A.O. Scott of New York Times also commented that the series has taken a downfall with the movie, saying "Everything that made the first "Die Hard" memorable—the nuances of character, the political subtext, the cowboy wit—has been dumbed down or scrubbed away entirely."[32] Willis has however, been cited as the film's redeeming quality, with Chris Vognar of Dallas Morning News saying "Willis' presence at least provides undercurrents of easy jocularity."

FilmRotten TomatoesMetacritic
Die Hard92% (63 reviews)[33]70 (13 reviews)[34]
Die Hard 2: Die Harder66% (47 reviews)[35]67 (17 reviews)
Die Hard with a Vengeance51% (45 reviews)[36]58 (19 reviews)[37]
Live Free or Die Hard82% (206 reviews)[38]69 (34 reviews)[39]
A Good Day to Die Hard14% (211 reviews)[40]28 (40 reviews)
Average Rating61%58


Die HardDie Hard 2: Die HarderDie Hard with a VengeanceLive Free or Die HardA Good Day to Die Hard
John McClaneBruce Willis
Holly GenneroBonnie Bedelia(Voice only)Bonnie Bedelia (Photograph)(Mentioned only)
Al PowellReginald VelJohnson
Richard ThornburgWilliam Atherton
Lucy Gennero-McClaneTaylor Fry(Mentioned only)Mary Elizabeth Winstead
John "Jack" McClane Jr.Noah Land(Mentioned only)(Mentioned only)Jai Courtney
Hans GruberAlan RickmanAlan Rickman (Flashback)
KarlAlexander Godunov
Harry EllisHart Bochner
Deputy Dwayne RobinsonPaul Gleason
ArgyleDe'voreaux White
Colonel StuartWilliam Sadler
Captain LorenzoDennis Franz
Major GrantJohn Amos
General EsperanzaFranco Nero
Leslie BarnesArt Evans
TrudeauFred Thompson
MarvinTom Bower
Zeus CarverSamuel L. Jackson
Simon Peter GruberJeremy Irons
Walter CobbLarry Bryggman
Joe LambertGraham Greene
Connie KowalskiColleen Camp
Mathias TargoNick Wyman
KatyaSam Phillips
Matt FarrellJustin Long
Thomas GabrielTimothy Olyphant
Frederick 'Warlock' KaludisKevin Smith
Miguel BowmanCliff Curtis
Mai LinhMaggie Q
TreyJonathan Sadowski
Yuri KomarovSebastian Koch
IrinaYuliya Snigir
AlikRadivoje Bukvic
Mike CollinsCole Hauser
Viktor ChagarinSergei Kolesnikov

For an extended list, see List of Die Hard characters.

Crew and other[edit]

Die HardDie Hard 2: Die HarderDie Hard with a VengeanceLive Free or Die HardA Good Day to Die Hard
DirectorJohn McTiernanRenny HarlinJohn McTiernanLen WisemanJohn Moore
MusicMichael KamenMarco Beltrami
Michael Kamen
Steven E. de Souza, Jeb Stuart
Based on:
Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp
Steven E. de Souza, Doug Richardson
Based on:
58 Minutes by Walter Wager
Characters by:
Roderick Thorp
Written by:
Jonathan Hensleigh
Certain original characters by:
Roderick Thorp
Mark Bomback
Story by:
Mark Bomback, David Marconi
Based on:
A Farewell to Arms by John Carlin
Characters by:
Roderick Thorp
Skip Woods
Characters by:
Roderick Thorp
Running time132 minutes124 minutes131 minutes129 minutes97 minutes[41]

Other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

A number of video games based on the successful movie franchise Die Hard have been released over the years, ranging from beat 'em ups to first-person shooters. While some of the games are based directly on the movies, a few further detail the adventures of John McClane between or after the series.



In May 2009, BOOM! Studios announced that they would be releasing an ongoing Die Hard comic series that would serve as a prequel to the first movie. Its story is set in 1976 and follows John McClane as a rookie cop in the NYPD,[1][42][43] and is scripted by Howard Chaykin.[44] The first issue of Die Hard: Year One was released on September 30, 2009. Eight issues have been released, with the eighth released on April 12, 2010.

The official description read:

Every great action hero got started somewhere. Batman Begins. Bond had his Casino Royale. And for John McClane, more than a decade before the first Die Hard movie, he’s just another rookie cop, an East Coast guy working on earning his badge in New York City during 1976s Bicentennial celebration... and the Summer of Sam. Too bad for John McClane, nothing's ever that easy.[42][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Die Hard comic chronicles goddamn John McClane’s first year". Comic Book Resources. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  2. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (February 21, 2013). "On the Enduring Appeal of ‘Die Hard’". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ http://www.showbizspy.com/article/215685/bruce-willis-worried-about-being-replaced-in-die-hard.html
  4. ^ http://metro.co.uk/2013/02/07/bruce-willis-confirms-die-hard-6-in-the-works-3397353
  5. ^ http://spinoff.comicbookresources.com/2013/03/13/movie-legends-revealed-die-hard-3-started-out-as-lethal-weapon-4/
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112864/trivia
  7. ^ http://mentalfloss.com/article/50333/6-movies-were-almost-other-movies
  8. ^ Carlin, John (May 1997). "A Farewell to Arms". Wired (5.05). Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Die Hard (1988)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  10. ^ "Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  11. ^ "Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  12. ^ "Live Free or Die Hard (2007)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  13. ^ "A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  14. ^ Croatto, Pete. "Die Hard". FilmCritic.com. Retrieved September 29, 2009. 
  15. ^ a b Berardinelli, James. "Die Hard A movie review by James Berardinelli". ReelViews.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  16. ^ Howe, Desson (July 15, 1988). "Die Hard". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  17. ^ BBC.co.uk
  18. ^ Eyeforfilm.co.uk
  19. ^ MacReady, Gator. "Eye for Film: Die Hard Movie Review". Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  20. ^ "The Action 25: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 3, 1990). "Die Hard 2: Die Harder". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 28, 2009. 
  22. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Die Hard 2". ReelViews. 
  23. ^ Travers, Peter (February 8, 2001). "Die Hard 2". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 28, 2009. 
  24. ^ Die Hard With a Vengeance – EW.com
  25. ^ Reelviews Movie Review
  26. ^ Howe, Desson (May 19, 1995). "‘Die Hard With a Vengeance’". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
  27. ^ LaSalle, Mick (June 26, 2007). "Old-school, bare-knuckle action – McClane delivers and then some". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 2, 2009. 
  28. ^ Puig, Claudia (June 25, 2007). "Techno stuff shuts down the action in 'Die Hard'". USA Today. 
  29. ^ A Good Day To Die Hard - Rotten Tomatoes
  30. ^ Reelviews Movie Reviews
  31. ^ ['A Good Day to Die Hard' makes John McClane a little too invincible (+video) - CSMonitor.com]
  32. ^ ‘A Good Day to Die Hard,’ With Bruce Willis - NYTimes.com
  33. ^ "Die Hard Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  34. ^ "Die Hard (1988): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  35. ^ "Die Hard 2: Die Harder Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  36. ^ "Die Hard With a Vengeance Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  37. ^ "Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  38. ^ "Live Free or Die Hard Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  39. ^ "Live Free or Die Hard (2007): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  40. ^ "A Good Day to Die Hard Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  41. ^ http://www.amctheatres.com/movies/a-good-day-to-die-hard
  42. ^ a b "Die Hard: Year One — John McClane Prequel Developed as a Comic Book Series | /Film". Slashfilm.com. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  43. ^ "Movies – News – 'Die Hard' comic prequel planned". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  44. ^ Marshall, Rick (June 29, 2009). "EXCLUSIVE: Die Hard: Year One Writer Talks Prequel Plot, Reveals New Jock & Dave Johnson Covers!". MTV.com. Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  45. ^ "Die Hard Gets A Prequel With Die Hard: Year One". Icon vs. Icon. May 28, 2009. Retrieved 10-06-2009.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]