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Die HardDie Hard is a Hollywood action film released in 1988, written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Alan Rickman, William Atherton, and directed by John McTiernan. A huge critical and commercial success, Die Hard propelled Willis' film career, giving him more credibility in action, dramatic, and musical roles, and helped Alan Rickman become a popular actor of villains in American film.
The movie is based on a 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp titled Nothing Lasts Forever, itself a sequel to the book The Detective, which was previously made into a 1968 movie starring Frank Sinatra.
Die Hard : Synopsis
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The film opens with New York City police detective John McClane arriving in Los Angeles to reunite with his estranged wife Holly, played by Bonnie Bedelia, for Christmas. He is picked up in a limousine manned by the talkative driver Argyle (De'voreaux White) and taken to Holly's place of work, a large office building named the Nakatomi Plaza after its corporate owner. After dropping off John, Argyle takes the limo into the building's underground parking garage, to wait and see if his services will be further required.
A company Christmas party is taking place on the 30th floor of the building. After an initial meeting, which includes strained greetings with her boss, Joseph Takagi, and an oily colleague, Ellis, the couple have an argument over their separation and her decision to be addressed by her maiden name "Gennaro." Holly rejoins the party while John stays in a room kicking himself for picking a fight with his wife. Unknown to any of the party-goers, a gang of terrorists silently invade the building, led by the German Hans Gruber. Karl, the gang's ruthless enforcer, kills both lobby security guards with a silencer fitted pistol. The gang seizes control of the security and communication systems, isolating them from the outside. The terrorists then take everyone at the party hostage and pull Joseph Takagi, Nakatomi's regional director, aside for some private business. Once alone, they reveal that they are not terrorists, but actually criminals who are posing as terrorists as part of their plan to steal $640 million worth of bearer bonds from the Nakatomi Plaza's main security vault. When the director is unable (or unwilling) to give them the access codes to the vault, he is shot dead and the gang implement their secondary plan to break into the vault. Their cold-blooded scheme involves murdering all the hostages with explosives in order to fake their own deaths and hide their escape with the loot. John McClane manages to slip away when the rest of the party-goers are rounded up. Barefooted (a continual theme in the film is McClane's inability to find adequate footwear), and armed only with his police Beretta pistol, McClane tries to summon the authorities. When he pulls a fire alarm, the gang detects it and calls the fire department to report it as a false alarm. One member of the gang, Karl's brother Tony, is sent to deal with the meddler, but is killed in mid-struggle when the two fall down a flight of stairs. After grabbing the dead man's two-way radio and Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine gun, he sends the body down in an elevator, with himself riding the car from above, with a taunting message to attract the assailants' attention in order to learn about them. After listening to Gruber and his men reacting to the grotesque delivery while collecting some of their names, McClane proceeds to the roof to call for help. Unfortunately, the police assume it is a prank call and are more concerned about his unauthorized use of the frequency. McClane desperately offers to give himself up if they come to the building, but it's only when they hear automatic weapons fire from brutishly vengeful Karl, sent to eliminate the NYPD detective, do they finally send a nearby policeman to investigate. Unfortunately for McClane, Gruber's gang overhears McClane's communication and already have a member, Eddie, waiting in the lobby to pose as a security guard to divert investigators.
Sgt. Al Powell (played by Reginald VelJohnson) is sent to check the disturbance and is fooled into thinking all is in order. Meanwhile, Karl continues to obsessively hunt McClane, even ignoring Gruber's orders to take easy measures to simply trap the detective. However, with considerable risk, McClane manages to outmaneuver his enemies, most notably by crawling through the ventilation system. After killing two more members of the gang, Heinrich and Marco, who storm into his room while he tries to break a window to signal Officer Powell, McClane sees to his horror that the cop - his last chance to get help - is leaving the scene. In one last desperate effort, McClane throws Marco's body on top of Powell's police car, forcing the cop to call frantically for backup. At this point, somebody opens fire on Powell's police car as the officer flees the plaza. (It is a matter of debate among fans of the film whether it is Karl and the other terrorists or McClane who opens fire.) Now with proof of a terrorist attack, the LAPD responds in full force. However, while McClane has summoned them somewhat sooner than he would have preferred, the police response was part of Hans Gruber's plan all along. Gruber's intent was to manipulate the police into helping open the vault and set up their escape. However, McClane, upon seeing the incompetence and reckless attitude of the LAPD caused by hard-headed Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson, who seriously underestimates both the skill and firepower of the enemy, resumes his fight against the terrorists from inside. To that end, McClane has taken a vital supply of detonators for the explosives from one of the dead terrorists. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game as Hans Gruber tries to implement his group's plan while recovering the detonators and simultaneously trying to stop McClane from interfering further. During one scene, Ellis, the oily co-worker of Holly's that McClane had met earlier, makes an ill-considered attempt to negotiate with Gruber by passing himself as a friend of McClane's and attempting to convince John to return the detonators. The ploy fails as McClane refuses to take the bait and Ellis is murdered.
Eventually, after numerous deadly engagements during which Powell is McClane's only ally among the authorities, Gruber takes advantage of an unexpected encounter with McClane and recovers the detonators by expertly faking an American accent, pretending to be a hostage, and leading John into an ambush in a computer lab. John frantically escapes the ambush (he never fell for Hans' trick, but was surprised by Hans' cohorts) with painful consequences as Gruber has all the glass in the room shot out to wound McClane's bare feet. McClane doctors his injured foot and figures out Gruber's plan, which involves blowing up the roof of the building along with the hostages. Meanwhile, the FBI, who have taken control of the situation from the LAPD, play right into Gruber's hands by cutting electrical power to the building, allowing Gruber's gang to bypass the last electromagnetic seal on the vault and loot the bonds. The hostages at this point are rounded up by the criminals and taken to the roof, where supposedly they will be transported to the airport by helicopters. After fighting off Karl by strangling him, John drives the hostages back off the roof and barely manages to escape being shot by the FBI as a terrorist when Gruber sets off the explosion, destroying an FBI helicopter and almost killing McClane. John escapes from the roof by tying a fire hose around his waist, jumping over the side of the building and blasting his way through the window into an office a couple of stories down. Back outside the building, an irresponsible TV reporter named Richard Thornburg (Atherton) finds out about McClane and goes to Holly's home for an easy and dramatic news story, interviewing the couple's two young children Lucy (Taylor Fry) and John Jr. (Noah Land). Seeing the report, along with a picture of the kids on Holly's desk, alerts Gruber to the fact that Holly is John's wife, something she has wisely refrained from telling him. He takes her as a hostage. In the meantime, Argyle, after making cheerful use of the limo's many frills and thus unaware of the events happening right above him, gets wind of the situation through a radio report. He manages to disable the terrorist Theo (Clarence Gilyard Jr.), who is preparing the gang's getaway vehicle, by ramming the fake ambulance they were going to use with his limo and giving the man a knockout punch.
The film climaxes with a battered and beaten McClane confronting Gruber and Eddie one last time high up in the tower, with Holly being held at gunpoint. With only two rounds in a hidden gun taped to his back, McClane suckers Hans by pretending to surrender, then shoots him through the chest, turning to blast Eddie in the forehead as well. Hans Gruber falls out the shattered window but pulls Holly with him. McClane manages to grab onto her, while Gruber attempts to finish them both off with his gun. Gruber is hanging on to Holly's Rolex watch, a gift from her boss. McClane undoes the band and Gruber's evil smirk changes into a flash of terror as the villain falls to his death. As McClane and his wife are escorted from the building, the seemingly indestructible Karl suddenly reappears as a survivor, brandishing his Steyr AUG in one final attempt to kill McClane. As McClane shields his wife, Karl is finally cut down for good by several bullets from an unseen shooter. As the image comes into view, we see it is Powell who has saved his friend's life. (Powell had earlier confided to John that he had mistakenly shot and killed a teenager who appeared to be armed.) Until now, Powell had not been able to bring himself to fire a gun, and was headed for desk-duty. McClane and Holly, finally safe, prepare to leave. Thornburg approaches them, still relentlessly angling for a story, and is punched in the face by Holly (who had been a horrified witness to Thornburg's TV interview with her kids). Argyle crashes his limo through the garage's security barrier, and the couple are driven away from the scene in the battered vehicle, kissing each other on the passenger seat while their driver vows to be with them to see how exciting their New Year's Eve will be, given how they spent their Christmas Eve.
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