Die Hard (1988)

John McClane

On Christmas Eve, NYPD detective John McClane arrives in Los Angeles, intending to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly, at the Christmas party of her employer, the Nakatomi corporation. McClane is driven to the party by Argyle, an airport limousine driver. While McClane changes clothes, the party is disrupted by the arrival of a German terrorist, Hans Gruber, and his heavily armed team: Karl, Tony, Franco, Theo, Alexander, Marco, Kristoff, Eddie, Uli, Heinrich, Fritz, and James. The group seizes the tower and secures those inside as hostages except for McClane, who slips away, and Argyle, who gets trapped in the garage.

Gruber interrogates Nakatomi executive Joseph Takagi for the code to the building’s vault and reveals that he plans to steal $640 million in bearer bonds, with terrorism merely a distraction. Takagi refuses to cooperate and is killed by Gruber. McClane secretly watches, but accidentally gives himself away and escapes. He sets off a fire alarm in an attempt to alert authorities, so Gruber sends Tony to investigate. McClane kills Tony, pocketing his weapon and radio, using it to contact the LAPD. As Sgt. Al Powell is sent to investigate, Gruber sends Heinrich and Marco to stop McClane, who kills them both. Powell arrives and is greeted by Eddie, posing as a concierge. Finding nothing unusual, Powell prepares to leave, but McClane drops Marco’s corpse onto his patrol car to gain his attention while Alexander shoots at the car from the building with an automatic rifle. Powell summons the LAPD, who lay siege to the building. McClane steals Heinrich’s bag containing C-4 explosives and detonators.

James and Alexander use anti-tank missiles to disable a SWAT armored car before McClane violently kills both of them by pushing C-4 attached to an office chair and computer down the elevator shaft, blowing up their floor. Holly’s coworker, Harry Ellis, attempts to mediate between Hans and McClane for the return of the detonators. McClane refuses, so Gruber kills Ellis. While checking explosives attached to the roof, Gruber is confronted by McClane; Gruber passes himself off as an escaped hostage. McClane offers him a gun and Gruber attempts to shoot McClane, but the gun is empty. Karl, Franco, and Fritz arrive; McClane kills Fritz and Franco, but is forced to flee, abandoning the detonators.

FBI agents take command of the siege, ordering the building’s power shut off. This, as Gruber anticipated, disables the vault’s final lock. Gruber demands a helicopter on the rooftop for transport, but the FBI prepare to double-cross him by sending helicopter gunships. McClane discovers that Gruber intends to detonate the explosives on the roof, faking the deaths of his team so they can escape with the bearer bonds. Gruber sees a news report by intrusive reporter Richard Thornburg that features McClane’s children and, from a desk photo, deduces that McClane is Holly’s husband. The criminals order the hostages to the roof, but Gruber takes Holly with him to use against McClane. McClane defeats Karl in a fight, kills Uli, and sends the hostages downstairs before the explosives detonate, destroying the roof and the FBI helicopter.

Theo retrieves their getaway vehicle, but is incapacitated by Argyle. A weary McClane finds Holly with Gruber and his remaining men, and knocks Kristoff unconscious. McClane surrenders his machine gun to spare Holly, but distracts Gruber and Eddie, allowing him to grab a concealed pistol with only two bullets taped to his back. McClane shoots Gruber and kills Eddie with a single shot to the forehead; Gruber crashes through a window but grabs onto Holly’s wrist. Gruber raises a pistol and attempts to shoot them, but McClane removes Holly’s wristwatch; Gruber falls to his death.

Outside, McClane and Holly meet Powell. Karl emerges and attempts to shoot McClane before Powell opens fire on and kills Karl with his police revolver. Argyle crashes through the parking garage door in the limo. Thornburg arrives and attempts to interview McClane, but Holly punches him, and McClane and Holly are driven away by Argyle.

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