Die Hard (1988): John McTieran’s Oscar-Nominated Action-Thriller, Starring Bruce Willis (Hero) and Alan Richman (Villain)

Set in Los Angeles, during Christmas time, Die Hard, the satisfyingly entertaining, if formulaic actioner, is well directed by John McTieran, boasting a strong performance from Bruce Willis, who went on to become a major Hollywood star.

Die Hard
Die hard.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The tale begins with an employees’ party on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation building.

However, thing come to an abrupt end, when the partygoers are taken hostage by some terrorists, headed by the vicious Hans Gruber (British actor Alan Rickman).

Gruber and his henchmen scheme to steal the $600 million locked in Nakatomi’s high-tech safe, while pretending to be politically motivated in their goal of throwing the authorities off track.

The vicious Gruber announce right away that he has no intention of allowing anyone to get out of the building alive.

Enters New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis), who has come to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia).  It “just happens” that Holly is one of the hostages.

Disregarding the orders of the building’s security guards, McClane, armed with only one handgun, decides to take on the villains.

Making a big-screen splash, Bruce Willis, then mostly known from the TV series Moonlighting, carries the day—in the process becoming a major bankable Hollywood star.


Oscar Nominations: 4

Sound: Don Bassman, Kevin F. Cleary, Richard Overton, and Al Overton.

Film Editing: Frank J. Urioste and John F. Link

Visual Effects: Richard Edlund, Al DiSarro, Brent Boates, Thaine Morris

Sound Effects Editing: Stephen H. Flick and Richard Shorr.


Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

Clint Eastwood’s Bird won the Sound Oscar.

Arthur Schmidt received the Editing Oscar for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which also won Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing.



Directed by John McTiernan
Screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza

Based on Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp
Produced by: Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver

Cinematography Jan de Bont
Edited by Frank J. Urioste, John F. Link

Music by Michael Kamen

Production companies: Gordon Company: Silver Pictures

Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Release date: July 15, 1988

Running time: 132 minutes
Budget $35 million
Box office about $140 million

DVD: March 9, 1999



Bruce Willis as John McClane

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber

Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennero McClane

Alexander Godunov as Karl

Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell

William Atherton as Thornburg