Die Hard (film series)

Die Hard
Creator Roderick Thorp
Original work Nothing Lasts Forever
Print publications
Novels Nothing Lasts Forever
58 Minutes
Comics Die Hard: Year One[1]
Films and television
Films Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Live Free or Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
Video games Die 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 an American action film series that began in 1988 with Die Hard, based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. The series follows the adventures of John McClane (portrayed by Bruce Willis), a New York City and Los Angeles police detective who continually finds himself in the middle of violent crises and intrigues where he is the only hope against disaster.[2]


Die Hard (1988)

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 $640 million in bearer bonds from the building's vault. In the finale, McClane shoots the terrorist leader, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), out the window to fall thirty stories.

It was released on July 15, 1988 to positive reviews and grossed $140.8 million worldwide.

Die Hard 2 (1990)

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.

It was released on July 4, 1990 to positive reviews and grossed $240 million worldwide.

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

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 Canada–US border. McClane kills Simon by shooting at a power line above Simon's helicopter.

It was released on May 19, 1995 to mixed reviews and grossed $366.1 million worldwide.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

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 had sent 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.

It was released June 27, 2007 to positive reviews and grossed $383.5 million worldwide.

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

The fifth film is set a few years later, mostly in Moscow, Russia and Chernobyl (Pripyat), 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; he 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.

It was released on February 14, 2013 to overwhelmingly negative reviews and grossed $304.7 million worldwide.


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, talks of a sixth film were already beginning. In an interview to promote the fifth film, when asked if there will be a sixth film, Bruce Willis simply replied "Yes".[4]

In October 2015, Fox entered into a deal with Wiseman (director of Live Free or Die Hard) and Lorenzo di Bonaventura to produce a potential Die Hard prequel set in 1979 with McClane as a young New York City police officer.[5] The day it was reported, Wiseman tweeted an image with a graphical title reading: Die Hard: Year One.[6]

Source material for the films

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 briefly considered to become the script for Lethal Weapon 4.[7][8] The hook in Hensleigh's screenplay that captured the attention of director John McTiernan was the idea of a man being targeted for revenge by someone whose life he had unwittingly destroyed. Once the Simon character became the brother of Hans Gruber and the backstory was established, the project fully came together. It was novelised by Deborah Chiel.[9]

Live Free or Die Hard was based on the 1997 article "A Farewell to Arms" written for Wired magazine by John Carlin.[10] It also drew on a script 20th Century Fox owned called "WW3.com", which dealt with a massive cyberterrorism attack against the U.S. and was nearly put into production in 2001 but ultimately abandoned because several elements in the story too closely resembled the September 11 attacks.

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 performance

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref(s)
North America Other
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Die Hard July 15, 1988 $83,008,852 $57,759,104 $140,767,956 #734 $28,000,000 [11]
Die Hard 2 July 4, 1990 $117,540,947 $122,490,147 $240,031,094 #446 #445 $70,000,000 [12]
Die Hard with a Vengeance May 19, 1995 $100,012,499 $266,089,167 $366,101,666 #596 #223 $90,000,000 [13]
Live Free or Die Hard June 27, 2007 $134,529,403 $249,002,061 $383,531,464 #336 #201 $110,000,000 [14]
A Good Day to Die Hard February 14, 2013 $67,349,198 $237,304,984 $304,654,182 #977 #314 $92,000,000 [15]
Total $502,440,899 $932,645,463 $1,435,086,362 $390,000,000
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

Critical and public response

Although the first Die Hard has been credited as one of the greatest action movies of all time,[16][17] 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."[18] James Berardinelli wrote that the film "represents the class of modern action pictures and the standard by which they must be judged."[19] 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."[20] Willis was also called "perfect as the wisecracking John McClane"[19] and "an excellent casting choice as a sardonic action hero."[21] Alan Rickman's portrayal of villain Hans Gruber was described as "marvelous"[22] and "a career-making performance."[23] 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.[24]

The first sequel, Die Hard 2, received positive reviews, although not as many as the original. Despite only giving the original film two stars, critic Roger Ebert gave this film three and a half stars and called it "terrific entertainment."[25] James Berardinelli called the film "somewhat-muddled but still entertaining."[26] Peter Travers wrote that "however impressively made, Die Hard 2 begins to wear thin."[27]

The third film, Die Hard with a Vengeance, 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."[28] James Berardinelli thought that the explosions and fights were "filmed with consummate skill, and were thrilling in their own right."[29] 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."[30] "[31]

The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, received highly positive reviews. 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."[32] 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."[33]

The fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, received mostly negative reviews from critics. The film stands at a rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the worst-reviewed film of the series.[34] Critics lambasted the installment for "[entering] generic action movie territory", as written by reviewer James Bernardinelli,[35] 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."[36] 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."[37] 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."

CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the series an average grade of "A+", "A", "A-", "A-", "B+" respectively on an A+ to F scale.[38]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Die Hard 92% (64 reviews)[39] 70 (13 reviews)[40] A+[38]
Die Hard 2 69% (61 reviews)[41] 67 (17 reviews) A[38]
Die Hard with a Vengeance 51% (45 reviews)[42] 58 (19 reviews)[43] A-[38]
Live Free or Die Hard 82% (206 reviews)[44] 69 (34 reviews)[45] A-[38]
A Good Day to Die Hard 14% (213 reviews)[46] 28 (40 reviews) B+[38]
Average 62% 58 A


Character Film
Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Live Free or Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
John McClane Bruce Willis
Holly Gennero Bonnie Bedelia Bonnie Bedelia
(voice only)
Bonnie Bedelia
(photograph only)
Al Powell Reginald VelJohnson
Richard Thornburg William Atherton
Lucy Gennero-McClane Taylor Fry Mary Elizabeth Winstead
John "Jack" McClane Jr. Noah Land Jai Courtney
Hans Gruber Alan Rickman Alan Rickman
(flashback only)
Karl Alexander Godunov
Harry Ellis Hart Bochner
Deputy Dwayne Robinson Paul Gleason
Argyle De'voreaux White
Colonel Stuart William Sadler
Captain Lorenzo Dennis Franz
Major Grant John Amos
General Esperanza Franco Nero
Leslie Barnes Art Evans
Trudeau Fred Thompson
Marvin Tom Bower
Zeus Carver Samuel L. Jackson
Simon Peter Gruber Jeremy Irons
Walter Cobb Larry Bryggman
Joe Lambert Graham Greene
Connie Kowalski Colleen Camp
Mathias Targo Nick Wyman
Katya Sam Phillips
Matt Farrell Justin Long
Thomas Gabriel Timothy Olyphant
Frederick 'Warlock' Kaludis Kevin Smith
Miguel Bowman Cliff Curtis
Mai Linh Maggie Q
Trey Jonathan Sadowski
Yuri Komarov Sebastian Koch
Irina Komarov Yuliya Snigir
Alik Radivoje Bukvic
Mike Collins Cole Hauser
Viktor Chagarin Sergei Kolesnikov

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

Crew and other

Crew/detail Film
Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Live Free or Die Hard
A Good Day to Die Hard
Director John McTiernan Renny Harlin John McTiernan Len Wiseman John Moore
Composer Michael Kamen Marco Beltrami
Michael Kamen
Writer(s) Screenplay:
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 time 132 minutes 124 minutes 131 minutes 129 minutes 97 minutes[47]

Other media

Video games

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][48][49] and is scripted by Howard Chaykin.[50] 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.[48][51]

See also


  1. 1 2 "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. "Bruce Willis fears being replaced in 'Die Hard 6′". Thaindian News.
  4. "Bruce Willis confirms Die Hard 6". Metro.
  5. Fleming, Jr, Mike (October 14, 2015). "'Die Hard 6' On The Drawing Board With Len Wiseman And Lorenzo Di Bonaventura". Deadline.com.
  6. "Die Hard: Year One". Len Wiseman verified Twitter page. October 14, 2015. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  7. "Movie Legends Revealed - Die Hard 3 Started Out as Lethal Weapon 4?". Spinoff.com.
  8. "6 Movies That Were Almost Other Movies". MentalFloss.com.
  9. Deborah Chiel. "Die Hard With a Vengeance". Goodreads.
  10. Carlin, John (May 1997). "A Farewell to Arms". Wired (5.05). Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  11. "Die Hard (1988)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  12. "Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  13. "Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  14. "Live Free or Die Hard (2007)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  15. "A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  16. "The 100 Best action movies".
  17. "50 Reasons Why Die Hard Is The Greatest Action Movie Of All Time".
  18. Croatto, Pete. "Die Hard". FilmCritic.com. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  19. 1 2 Berardinelli, James. "Die Hard A movie review by James Berardinelli". ReelViews.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  20. Howe, Desson (July 15, 1988). "Die Hard". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  21. "BBC - Films - review - Die Hard". bbc.co.uk.
  22. "Die Hard". eyeforfilm.co.uk.
  23. MacReady, Gator. "Eye for Film: Die Hard Movie Review". Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  24. "The Action 25: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  25. Ebert, Roger (July 3, 1990). "Die Hard 2: Die Harder". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 28, 2009.
  26. Berardinelli, James. "Die Hard 2". ReelViews.
  27. Travers, Peter (February 8, 2001). "Die Hard 2". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 28, 2009.
  28. Randall Wallace. "Die Hard With a Vengeance - EW.com". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com.
  29. James Berardinelli. "Die Hard with a Vengeance - Reelviews Movie Reviews". Reelviews Movie Reviews.
  30. Howe, Desson (May 19, 1995). "'Die Hard With a Vengeance'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  31. http://www.mtv.com/news/2164109/die-hard-with-a-vengeance-anniversary/
  32. LaSalle, Mick (June 26, 2007). "Old-school, bare-knuckle action – McClane delivers and then some". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  33. Puig, Claudia (June 25, 2007). "Techno stuff shuts down the action in 'Die Hard'". USA Today.
  34. "A Good Day To Die Hard". rottentomatoes.com. February 14, 2013.
  35. James Berardinelli. "Good Day to Die Hard, A - Reelviews Movie Reviews". Reelviews Movie Reviews.
  36. ['A Good Day to Die Hard' makes John McClane a little too invincible (+video) - CSMonitor.com]
  37. ‘A Good Day to Die Hard,’ With Bruce Willis - NYTimes.com
  38. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Cinemascore". Cinemascore.com. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  39. "Die Hard Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  40. "Die Hard (1988): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  41. "Die Hard 2: Die Harder Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  42. "Die Hard With a Vengeance Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  43. "Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  44. "Live Free or Die Hard Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  45. "Live Free or Die Hard (2007): Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  46. "A Good Day to Die Hard Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
  47. "AMC Theatres: A Good Day to Die Hard". amctheatres.com.
  48. 1 2 "Die Hard: Year One — John McClane Prequel Developed as a Comic Book Series | /Film". Slashfilm.com. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  49. "Movies – News – 'Die Hard' comic prequel planned". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  50. 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.
  51. "Die Hard Gets A Prequel With Die Hard: Year One". Icon vs. Icon. May 28, 2009. Retrieved October 6, 2009.

External links

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