Die Hard

dir. John McTiernan

Series - Retrospective

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A tough NYC cop (Bruce Willis) undertakes a one-man guerrilla war against a team of heavily-armed Euro-thieves, in this trend-setting action-movie classic.

It's Christmas Eve in L.A., and the only thing tough NYC detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants is to spend the holiday with his kids and estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia). But when a team of heavily armed Euro-thieves, led by the cultured and ruthless Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman, in his film debut), takes over the high-tech office tower where his wife works, McClane soon finds himself navigating forty storeys' worth of air ducts and elevator shafts barefoot, equipped with little more than his service weapon and dry-cool wit, as he tries to foil the villains' murderous scheme. While many films since have "borrowed" its lone wolf hero vs. army-of-baddies scenario, the original Die Hard is unmatchable for its ingeniously simple and perfectly airtight construction. Flexing his wits more than his muscles, former TV star Willis inaugurated the era of the Everyman action hero as the shit-talking McClane, whose memorable riposte to Gruber — "Yippee-ki-yay, [Mr. Falcon]," according to the edited-for-TV version — became the watchword of a generation.