Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Die Hard Movie Retrospective

Throughout the year I’ve been celebrating 30 years since the original Die Hard was released. I’ve covered a non-existent plot-hole, taken a look at some Die Hard trivia, compared the film to the novel it was based on, looked at every Die Hard game released as well as some Die Hard rip-off movies and I have even offered my opinion on the age old query as to whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not. Plus I have had a few nods and references to Die Hard in numerous other articles I’ve written through 2018. Yet as this year draws to a close, there is one thing I have not yet done. I’ve not done a retrospective on the films themselves.

Well with 2018 in it’s last few days and 2019 just around the corner. I can’t really end this year long celebration of 30 years since the first film was released without taking in all the films can I? I took part in my annual tradition of watching Die Hard on Christmas Eve with a glass (or three) of Jack Daniels and I’ve watched the rest of the films between then and now to make my way through the entire franchise. So here it is, my Die Hard movie retrospective. So, come read my blog, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…

Die Hard

Die Hard

Released in mid July of 1988, directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza & Jeb Stuart. The film that catapulted the then relatively unknown Bruce Willis into super stardom and cemented him as one of the most recognisable action stars ever.

Die Hard tells the story of John McClane (Bruce Willis) who is an everyday cop from New York. McClane is in L.A. to meet up with his estranged wife Holly Gennero (Bonnie Bedelia) at a Christmas party held at her place of work, Nakatomi Plaza. McClane is very much a fish out of water and doesn’t mix too well with the suits of Holly’s workplace. After asking for a place to clean up, terrorists seize control of Nakatomi Plaza taking all party goers hostage along the way, all except McClane who manages to sneak away unnoticed.

The terrorists are lead by the charismatic Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) who makes the police and FBI run through the rule book – only his intentions are not exactly what the police are anticipating. As Gruber and his men unleash their plan, McClane finds himself fighting against the odds to save to hostages, his wife and even himself as all hell breaks loose.

Die Hard is an all time classic. It is a Christmas film? Yes, for me it is… but it’s also just a great picture regardless – Christmas or not. Bruce Willis is brilliant in the role and really shut a lot of naysayers up who doubted his ability to hold a film like this back in 1988 as a leading action star. John McClane became a genuine action icon after this film and went on to appear in all the sequels too. Bonnie Bedelia playing Holly is also a joy to watch, she’s a ballsy character who takes no shit from anyone, including the leader of the terrorists himself, Hans Gruber.

Hans Gruber

Speaking of which, Gruber is quite possibly one of the greatest on screen villains ever… if not THE greatest. Alan Rickman’s performance is nothing short of pure fried gold. Gruber is charming, smart and charismatic… but then he’s also ruthless and will let nothing get in the way of his plan. He’d be just as conformable talking to you about designer suits and articles from Forbes magazine as much as he would putting a bullet between your eyes. You’re not supposed to like bad guys in films, they are called bad guys for a reason. Yet, with Gruber, you can’t help but fall in love with him a bit. This was Rickman’s first movie roll after moving to America from England and I personally do not think he ever bettered it. This is Alan Rickman at his finest on screen.

Back in 88, Die Hard blew people away. You have to bear in mind that the 80s was a decade when action films were very cookie cutter, each one being hard to distinguish from the other. You had the big, muscle bound action hero who would take on an army of bad guys with a gun that never needed reloading while the hero would emerge from the battle with nothing more than a smudge of dirt on their face. McClane was nothing like that, he was just a guy and one who had to use his brain as much as his gun – a gun that would run out of bullets. The plot of Die Hard is easy to explain and yet it’s not exactly straight forward either. There are twists and turns as McClane learns why the terrorists have crashed the Christmas party. Even when you know what is going on, there are still little bumps and surprises along the way that make you try to second guess both McClane and Gruber’s next move in this dangerous game of cat & mouse.

Die Hard – Best Scene

Die Hard is a movie chock-full of action set pieces, to pick one great action scene from several great action scenes is not easy… so my favourite scene isn’t an action one at all. Mine is one much more grounded.

Die Hard Bathroom

It’s after McClane and Gruber meet face to face for the first time, after Rickman does his best American accent to pass himself off as a Nakatomi Plaza employee, after the whole “shoot the glass” bit that leaves the barefoot McClane running over broken glass in an attempt to escape. When McClane is sitting there in the bathroom pulling shards of glass from his bloody feet. He gets on the walkie-talkie to Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) who has been supporting McClane since the shit hit the fan. McClane comes to a realisation, that there’s a good chance he’s not going to make it out of this alive. So he asks Powell to find his wife (“don’t ask me how by then you’ll know how.”) and he tells Powell, to relay a message to Holly… “Tell her that, um, she’s the best thing that ever happened to a bum like me. She’s heard me say “I love you” a thousand times. She never heard me say “I’m sorry.” I want you to tell her that, Al. Tell her that John said that he was sorry.”.

That scene is heartbreaking and for an action film, you just don’t see the hero break down like that. The hero in an 80s action film never doubted he would survive, he never asks someone to find his wife to tell her he said he’s sorry in the midst of the action. This is one of the major elements I love about the film – these human moments that show McClane as an everyday guy. The acting from Willis is top-notch too. Brilliant scene.

“I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

– Hans Gruber

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard 2

The massive success of the first film meant a sequel was a given. And 1990 saw the release of Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Reuniting several of the cast but with new director at the helm with Renny Harlin.

John McClane is back and on Christmas Eve, two years to the day after the Nakatomi Plaza incident, history repeats itself. McClane arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport to pick up Holly who is flying in from L.A. At the very start, McClane’s car gets impounded by the airport police and this is just the start of his troubles. While sitting at bar, he sees two people acting very suspiciously and decides to investigate. After getting involved in a shootout in the baggage area, McClane learns that one of the men he killed is an American soldier who was apparently already killed in action years earlier. Things just do not add up.

McClane soon discovers that ex-U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel William Stuart has taken over control of the airport along with his cohorts. Stuart wants to see the release of General Ramon Esperanza, a well known drug lord and dictator into his care. As Stuart and his henchmen do their best to disrupt the airport, McClane gets to work doing what he does best, taking out the terrorists while trying to save Holly who is still in a plane circling the airport and fast running out of fuel.

Die Hard 2 Meet

Die Hard 2: Die Harder is a very solid sequel. It’s familiar and yet fresh, it keeps very much to the staples that made the first film so damn good while also mixing thing up a bit along the way. The plot twists as it progresses and things are not as black & white as they first seem. It lacks the originality the first film has… but of course it does, its a sequel – but overall, it’s a damn good watch and for me, the best sequel in the franchise.

The cast, once more are great. Of course Bruce Willis as McClane is a joy to watch as is Bonnie Bedelia as Holly who is just as ballsy as she was in the first film. Then there is William Sadler as the main villain, Colonel Stuart. He’s no Alan Rickman, no Hans Gruber but a very enjoyable performance none the less.

The film kind of lacks that claustrophobic/enclosed setting of the original with McClane having the run of an entire airport – yet things are still restrictive. I mean, it’s not as if McClane could just walk out the front door leaning his wife stranded in the air waiting for the inevitable plane crash.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder – Best Scene

Kind of similar to the first film, my favourite scene is not one of the many action set-pieces. I’ve gone for one of the more human scenes that show McClane as just a guy. It’s after the Windsor flight 144 plane crash caused by Colonel Stuart. After McClane does all he can to try to prevent it, after he walks through the wreckage and sees a child’s stuffed toy. At that moment, he doesn’t know who’s plane it is, could’ve been his wife’s.

Die Hard 2 Windsor

It then cuts to McClane sitting there in the control room of the airport a silent, broken man. Just as with the first film, he feels useless. He did all he could and yet an entire plane full of people, including children are dead. There’s no awesome and well written line of dialogue. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and very quiet with hardly a word spoken. It’s just a man realising he is just a man and no matter what he does, it may not be enough.

“Just once, I’d like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin’ Christmas tree, a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin’ tin can.”

– John McClane

Die Hard with a Vengeance

Die Hard with a Vengeance

There was a five year gap between sequels this time and 1995 saw the release of the third film in the franchise. Not only did Bruce Willis come back, but director of the original flick, John McTiernan also returned. So did the reunion create a film worthy of the original?

By now McClane and Holly are separated, she’s doing well in L.A. while he is still working as a cop in New York. When we first meet McClane in the film, he’s recovering from a hangover and on suspension from the force.  This is a John McClane on the edge with nothing no lose. Enter the mysterious Simon (Jeremy Irons) who blows up a department store in New York and specifically asks for McClane to try to stop him. Simon has McClane jumping through hoops and if he does not comply, Simon will blow up another location. While following Simon’s strict instructions, McClane crosses paths with Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) an the two are dragged into the mad bomber’s dangerous game.

It’s latter revealed that Simon is the brother of Hans Gruber from the first film and it seems he is out for revenge over the death of his sibling who want’s McClane dead… or does he? As McClane and Carver are forced to run around New York stopping/defusing bombs, Gruber’s grand plan is revealed and it seems the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to the Grubers.

Die Hard with a Vengeance Simon

Okay, so I have a serious love/hate relationship with Die Hard with a Vengeance. Is it a good picture? Yes, it’s bloody entertaining. The flick literally opens up with an explosion and the action does not let up after that until the credits roll. The story is great and has twists and turns along the way. Is it a good Die Hard film though? Well that’s a more difficult question to answer. It’s got John McClane in it, it connects to the first film with the whole Gruber brother thing… but that’s about it really. They could have released this as a Bruce Willis flick with him playing a generic action hero and it would’ve worked either way.

The film just lacks something and I’m not really sure what that something is. There’s brilliant chemistry between Willis and Jackson, they honestly come across as a great coupling trough the film. The plot does a good job of not being too obvious and has some great twists. Irons is a fantastic bad guy and does feel like Hans Gruber’s brother.

But I think my main problem with the film is just how “convenient” everything is. In the first two flicks, you see and feel McClane having to work things out, you see the cogs in his head grind away. In this, things just happen and he just so happens to be in the right place at the right time. Gruber just so happens to plant the bomb in the same school Caver’s nephews attend (despite the fact Carver was never part of Gruber’s initial plan), McClane just so happens to find the most knowledgeable truck driver in the whole of New York who helps him solve a clue, The bit where McClane is shot out of the aqueduct via water pressure from an exploding bomb he couldn’t predict – and just so happens to be randomly shot out at the exact time and the exact place Carver just so happens to be driving past. Or what about the fact McClane’s buddy just so happened to use his badge number as lottery number picks and how one of the bad guys kills said buddy and takes his police badge to wear… then McClane just so happens to notice said police badge while in a tricky situation that clued him into the fact the guys he is with are the bad guys?

They could’ve called this one Die Hard with a Lot of Plot Convenience. There are other moments too where things just happen because the script says so and McClane has things work out very nicely for him along the way. Things like McClane having to be told who Simon really is, when I feel that is something he should have worked out for himself. Plus I feel this film marks the dumbing down, the decline of the franchise – something the next two sequel revel in.

Die Hard with a Vengeance – Best Scene

There is no genuine human moment in this film that shows McClane as the every day guy is. But perhaps my favourite scene is one where McClane is just being McClane.

Die Hard with a Vengeance Train.jpg

It’s just after the subway train crash via one of Gruber’s bombs. After Carver has the altercation with the rookie cop (“I have to answer this phone.”). All hell breaks loose as the bomb explodes, the subway train derails and swings out casing untold damage, people run for their lives as the subway car tips over onto it’s side and crashes to a halt and it looks like no one would’ve survived that. Then McClane just pulls himself out of the wreckage laughing to himself in disbelief over he fact he’s still alive. That laugh, that McClane laugh is just perfect and adds a nice light-hearted moment to an otherwise intense scene.

“Yeah, Zeus! As in, father of Apollo? Mt. Olympus? Don’t fuck with me or I’ll shove a lightning bolt up your ass? Zeus! You got a problem with that?”

– Zeus Carver

Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard

I was happy with just the three flicks, the previous one was okay and has it’s problems but still served as a satisfying end to the trilogy. But they just couldn’t leave it alone and McClane was brought back in 2007. This time directed by Len Wiseman.

McClane finds himself in Washington, D.C. with expert computer hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) in the midst of a major cyber attack headed up by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his team of cyber terrorists. Gabriel aims to hack into government and commercial computers all over the U.S. and disable the nation’s infrastructure. Of course McClane and his new sidekick stop the bad guys.

This film has it’s fans… I’m not one of them. It’s just not Die Hard. It’s a very generic action film with none of the heart or charm of the previous ones. The plot is bland, the main villain is forgettable and McClane is just not McClane. He’s no longer the everyday cop fighting against the odds, he’s become an indestructible super hero. I mean going back to my favourite scene of the first film with McClane asking Powell to find his wife and apologise – it’s a fantastic scene that shows just how “human” he is. This film has McClane going up against a F-35B Lightning II fighter jet as a freeway crumbles around him… and winning. It’s just stupid, it’s a stupid film.

Live Free or Die Hard Jet

I said about Die Hard with a Vengeance that it marked the dumbing down and the decline of the franchise – but this film takes that to a whole new level.

Live Free or Die Hard – Best Scene

The ends credits, I could not wait for this film to end. Lets move on.

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse… it does. So he’s back once more, this time directed by John Moore and released in 2013. Oh dear…

So now McClane is in Russia where he meets up with his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney). the father and son team up to and find themselves entangled in a global terrorist plot… and I’m bored already.

The previous film was bad but it’s watchable – just barely. This is fucking atrocious. You can always tell when I really don’t like something as the paragraphs get shorter as I really don’t want to give the film any more attention.

A Good Day to Die Hard – Best Scene

There’s this really amazing scene near the end with McClane driving a truck out of the back of a helicopter. It’s a beautiful designed and shot scene that explores the depth and the McClane character… nah, utter bollocks. The film is shit with no best scene. Even the end credits aren’t worth it.

McClane

Old McClane

Well there’s yet more as the sixth film in the franchise is in production as I write this simply called McClane. To be directed by Len Wiseman who also directed Live Free or Die Hard. The plot isn’t fully known right now but it has been said this will be both a sequel and prequel in one film.

There will be present day scenes starring Bruce Willis playing an ageing John McClane, possibly retired? But the film will also flashback to New Year’s Eve 1979 and tell the story of young John McClane as a rookie cop in New York. Details are thin on the ground right now, there are no specific story details or even a release date yet.

To be honest, I’m not at all interested in this one. For me, the franchise died a long time ago. I have little interest in seeing an 60 year old John McClane and I have even less interest in seeing a 20-something version too. I’ll just stick to the first two films and depending on my mood, the third one. If I want to watch a young McClane, I’ll just re-watch Die Hard.


 

That’s me done for 2018 folks. Just want to say a big thanks to everyone who has been reading my scrawlings over the last 12 months. I do enjoy doing these articles and I hope you enjoy reading them.

New Year

Have a great New Years, whatever you get up to.

See you in 2019…maybe…

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Die Hard Trivia You May Not Know

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the release of the one of the greatest action films ever, Die Hard. So all through 2018, I’m doing a few articles on the flick to celebrate, this is the second one following me covering a supposed ‘plot hole’ that never existed. This time I’m going to take a look at some behind the scenes tit-bits, slices of trivia that even die hard, Die Hard fans may not have known about.

Recently there was a special screening of Die Hard held as part of Laemmle’s Anniversary Classics series for the movie to mark its 30th anniversary (even though that’s not actually until July 15th). The film has been given a 4K clean up making the picture look stunning. A few of the stars from the movie along with some of the crew also attended the screening and they held a Q&A session where some interesting bits of info was let out of the bag, some of which I’m going to take a look at right here. But before I get to that stuff, there is one (in)famous piece of trivia I want to clear up.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Almost Played John McClane

Arnie Poster

Ask any Die Hard fan to mention a piece of trivia about the movie and most of the time you’ll be met with the comment that “Die Hard was originally planned to be a sequel to Commando starring Arnold Schwarzenegger”. It actually sounds pretty plausible for various reasons too. Arnie was a big name in action films in the mid-late 80s and Commando was a big hit for him in 85 – so a sequel seems like a reasonable thing to happen. Plus there is the fact that Commando was written by Steven E. de Souza who would go on to pen Die Hard a few years later. Then to finish of, de Souza was actually writing a sequel to Commando…and I think that this is where the rumor started with crossed wires. Yes de Souza was writing a sequel to Commando and yes he also wrote the screenplay for Die Hard but they were two different projects. The Commando sequel was never made for various reasons so people tend to assume that the sequel became Die Hard instead…it didn’t.

If you want further proof, how about hearing from the man himself? Steven E. de Souza held an interview a while back where he set the record straight when asked about Commando 2 becoming Die Hard.

“No, no, no and no. I don’t know how this story started on the Internet – it’s completely wrong. Die Hard is based on a novel called Nothing Lasts Forever by the author Roderick Thorpe, which is a sequel to his early book The Detective.”

While I’m here, I’ll also cover what de Souza said about he unmade Commando 2 story.

So for Commando 2, we figured that Arnold, after blowing up half of Los Angeles, achieves some notoriety, retires from the army and, by the time the sequel occurs, is running a security firm.

The plot would have seen him hired by a big corporation to oversee their security to protect their executives from being kidnapped, to stop people breaking into their building and to make sure their computers are secure.

So he sets it up and hires the most dangerous people to be guards in the building and then lo and behold – he discovers the people he’s working for are in the illegal arms business and the big corporation is simply a front.

So there you have it from the man who wrote both Commando (and its unmade sequel) as well as Die HardCommando 2 was a separate project and never was turned into Die Hard at all. So with that out of the way, onto the more interesting stuff.

Frank Sinatra Almost Played John McClane

Frank McClane

Now this one holds a lot more water than the previous slice of trivia and it very nearly happened too. See, as Steven E. de Souza covered previously, Die Hard is based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by the writer Roderick Thorpe and that book was itself a sequel to his earlier book The Detective. Now The Detective was turned into a movie in 1968 starring…yes, Frank Sinatra. So when the sequel was in early development, Sinatra was offered the chance to reprise his role. 20th Century Fox who owned the movie rights to both The Detective and Nothing Lasts Forever were even contractually obliged to offer Sinatra the lead role in the sequel. But as the film was being made twenty years after the first film, Sinatra turned it down as he felt he was too old and so the script was tweaked to change it from a sequel into a separate movie altogether and the role was offered to then little known actor Bruce Willis instead.

Gene Hackman Could’ve Been In The Movie

Gene Hackman

When you think about Die Hard now, you remember it for its main star Bruce Willis. Yet before the movie, he was relativity unknown. He made a name for himself in TV with the show Moonlighting and featured in the comedy flick Blind Date previously – but he was hardly leading man material and many people laughed at the idea of Willis being an action star at the time too. So there was some uncertainty with the cast pretty much being filled with no-names, the idea came about to have at least one big name actor to get on the movie posters and that name was Gene Hackman. He was originally lined up to play the part of Sgt. Al Powell, a role that ultimately went to Reginald VelJohnson instead. And it seems like Hackman wasn’t the only actor up for the part either as VelJohnson remembers.

“I was living in New York at the time and I went in to audition. There was a lot of well known actors that were there. Even before the casting call, an A-lister was supposed to play the role. His casting would have made Powell more of a gruff veteran than a haunted patrolman. The person they had before, they told me it was Gene Hackman. I heard he had the role but couldn’t do it.”

So there you go, Gene Hackman very nearly played Sgt. Al Powell. According to VelJohnson, Wesley Snipes was up for the part too.

Why Is Die Hard Is Set At Christmas?

Christmas Gruber

The film was released in the summer of 1988, yet its widely considered a Christmas movie due to the fact its set on Christmas Eve. But there was a very good reason behind this idea and why it was released when it was. First, releasing it during the summer blockbuster season when people tend to go to the cinema more equates to higher ticket sales. It worked too as by the end of its theatrical run, Die Hard had brought in $83 million in North America alone. But why the Christmas setting, I mean, lets be honest – you could set Die Hard at any other time of the year and it would still work right? Again, there was a reason for this as producer Joel Silver was a big fan of Christmas movies and he felt that the film would stand a longer shelf-life if it was set at Christmas as people would be inclined to watch it over the festive period year after year…and he was right.

Though I feel I need to throw a little shade over this. See, Nothing Lasts Forever the novel that Die Hard was based on also takes place at Christmas, so it seems to me that the reason the flick takes place at Christmas is simply because the novel did too. But I can even counteract that shade too. Take a look at some other Joel Silver produced films over the years; Lethal WeaponDie Hard 2 (of course), The Last Boy ScoutKiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys to name a few…all set at Christmas. So yeah, it seems like Silver really does like his Christmas movies.

Hans Gruber Was Not Exactly Original

Hans Gruber

Lets be honest here. Hans Gruber is one of the finest bad guys ever caught on film – brilliantly portrayed by the late, great and very much missed Alan Rickman. He is charismatic as well as utterly ruthless, as cold in his executions (literally) as he is warm in is personality. Yet he was not the first bad Hans Gruber on film, the name is not from the novel either as he was called Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber in that. So where exactly did the name Hans Gruber come from? Well it came from a James Bond parody. Does anyone else remember the Flint films? They were a couple of spy comedy pictures from the 60s starring James Coburn as super secret agent Derek Flint (except for one TV movie). The films were called Our Man Flint (1966) and its sequel, In Like Flint (1967). As a quick aside, I recommend them, they’re cracking good fun.

Anyway, back to the point. The first film, Our Man Flint featured a German bad guy and his name was Hans Gruber played by Michael St. Clair. So hey, if you feel like annoying your friends with some movie trivia – ask them who first played the German bad guy Hans Gruber and correct them when they get it wrong. Die Hard screenwriter Steven E. de Souza has even since admitted that is where the name came from.

John And Holly’s Marital Argument Was Improvised

Holly

You know the scene right? John is just getting cleaned up after his long flight. He brings up how his wife is using her maiden name of Gennaro instead of her married name McClane. They then get into a petty and childish argument as they talk over each others points in a long uninterrupted debate. Well there was a very specific reason why that scene exists when it wasn’t even scripted. It was a bit of a reference to Willis’ trademark arguments he would get into with Cybill Shepherd on Moonlighting which director John McTiernan was a fan of. McTiernan knew he wanted something similar in the film but couldn’t find anywhere to put it, so he just left it up to his actors. He gave them no direction and just told them to argue. None of it was scripted and he just let his actors do their thing as de Souza recalls.

“Bonnie and Bruce improvised the argument they have in her suite. Somehow they managed to bring an argument from who knows where, and I was the stenographer there incorporating all their improv into that scene.”

Seeing as they had no script, it just goes to show what amazing chemistry Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia had during filming. The whole argument is one of my favorite parts of the whole flick.


So there you have it, a few little bits of Die Hard trivia that I hope you may not have previously known about. Just goes to show that even with its 30th anniversary coming up in a few months, there’s still a few secrets hidden in this gem of a picture.

Happy trails…

The Major Die Hard Plot Hole…Was There Ever One?

So a few weeks back Die Hard screenwriter, Steven E. de Souza explained that a so-called ‘huge plot hole’ in the film is only there due to a scene being cut from the movie. It was pretty well covered by multiple sites including Slashfilm, Entertainment Weekly, Digital Spy, Lad Bible, Indie Wire as well as numerous others. With many of the sites using such terminology as “Die Hard writer explains major plot hole in the film.”, “a major Die Hard plot hole was just explained.” or even “There is one significant plot hole that has left fans scratching their heads over the years.” But just exactly what was the ‘plot hole’ that has had us Die Hard fans perplexed and pulling our hair out in frustration for the last (almost) thirty years?

The ‘Plot Hole’

McClane Hans 2

Okay, so apparently – in the film when a tired and pretty beat up John McClane (Bruce Willis) comes face to face with Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) for the first time. Gruber does his best American accent and passes himself of as ‘Bill Clay’ to McClane then McClane gives ‘Clay’ a gun. It is the fact that McClane realises that ‘Bill’ is really Hans is a ‘plot hole’ due to a deleted scene. This is how screenwriter de Souza explained it…

“Originally, they get off the truck, the camera craned up, you saw them in a circle and Alan Rickman says, ‘Synchronize your watches’. They all put their arms out in a circle with the camera moving down and they all had the same Tag Heuer watch. If you notice, the first guy Bruce kills almost by accident going down the steps, he searches the body, looks at the IDs. He steals the cigarettes, which is a laugh. He looks at the watch which gets another laugh because you’re thinking he might steal the watch. As he kills each guy, he notices they all had the same watch. When he talks to Dwayne Robinson, he says, ‘I think these guys are professionals. Their IDs are too good. There’s no labels on their clothes and they all have the same watch.’”

However, the watch scene was cut from the final film so we the audience do not know all the terrorists are wearing the same make of watch. According to de Souza, when McClane and Gruber meet for the first time, McClane checks out Gurber’s watch – notices its the same make he has already seen on the other terrorists and it is the watch that clues McClane in on that’ Bill Clay’ is really Hans Gruber. So there’s your explanation to that ‘plot hole’ that has been annoying you for almost three decades. Except I have a handful of problems with this…

If you are a die hard Die Hard fan like myself then you most probably have not been scratching your head over this ‘plot hole’ because you have never even registered it as a ‘plot hole’ to begin with. The only things I’m scratching my head over are – this is the first and only time I have ever heard anyone consider this a genuine plot hole and how the explanation given does not make 100% sense. Just going back to de Souza’s explanation for a second.

“When he (McClane) talks to Dwayne Robinson, he says, ‘I think these guys are professionals. Their IDs are too good. There’s no labels on their clothes and they all have the same watch.’”

Errr, no. McClane never once mentions the watches they are wearing in the film at all. He does mention their impressive and expensive phoney IDs, clothing labels and cigarettes…not their watches. He’s not even talking to Dwayne Robinson either.

John McClane: These guys are mostly European judging by their clothing labels and their [long pause] cigarettes. They’re well-financed and very slick.

Sergeant Al Powell: Well, now how do you know that?

John McClane: I’ve seen enough phoney ID’s in my time to know that the ones they got must have cost a fortune. Add all that up, I don’t know what the fuck it means, but you got some bad-ass perpetrators and they’re here to stay.

Sergeant Al Powell: I hear ya, partner. And L.A.’s finest are on it.

Powell

McClane was talking to Sergeant Powell. You’d think de Souza would have a better knowledge of the movie he wrote. Then getting to the main scene itself, one of my favourite scenes ever on film – two lead actors squaring off against each other in a tense, ticking bomb piece of cinema. This is what de Souza had to say about that particular scene too.

“When Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch. You see his eyes look at the watch. That’s how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.”

McClane never once looks at Gruber’s watch – in fact Gruber keeps his watch arm tucked behind his back for pretty much the whole of that scene, it tucked back there when he accepts the cigarette and when he takes the gun. Okay so Gruber does use his left arm (with the watch) to take the cigarette out of the packet – but you can hardly see the watch and there is no indication that McClane ever looks at it either, there is certainly no shot where “You see his eyes look at the watch” as de Souza claims. So de Souza’s explanation just does not add up, at least not for me. Now I’m not saying a scene where the terrorists synchronise their watches was never filmed to be cut, maybe it was and maybe the whole watch scene was originally intended to explain how McClane worked out who ‘Bill Clay’ really was, or at least a part of the puzzle. But what I am saying is that even with that scene removed…there is no plot hole at all.

Just as an aside. I have a 2-disc special edition of Die Hard, it has deleted and alternate scenes and yet there is no ‘synchronise watches’ scene anywhere to be found. I even did a search on the interwebs and found nothing. The only info I can find that this watch scene even exists leads back to the same articles I linked to at the start and the whole reason I’m writing this article. So why is de Souza trying to explain away a ‘plot hole’ that does not exist with a supposed ‘deleted scene’ that I can’t find? If anyone can find the scene, please do let me know as I’d like to see it for myself.

Why Its Not A Plot Hole

hans-gruber

Just for the sake of argument, lets just say that yes there was such a deleted scene and also agree that this is a ‘major plot hole’ that has been bugging fans for close to thirty years. I’d like to offer a reasonable explanation that would easily cover such a plot hole without using deleted scenes and only what we see and know from watching the film as it is in its final cut.

So how did John McClane know Bill Clay was really Hans Gruber?

  1. McClane is there when Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta) is shot by Gruber. Okay so he’s under a table trying to hide away and his view is impaired… but he can see small details. Even during the scene where the “plot hole” is said to be, Hans says how he will count to three and McClane replies with “Like you did with Takagi?”.
  2. There is a scene later – after McClane kills Tony (Andreas Wisniewski) the infamous “Now I have a machine gun ho-ho-ho” scene. McClane is on top of the elevator listening in as Gruber and one of his henchmen talk, taking notes. McClane can see into the elevator car itself and see’s Gruber. I admit its not a great view but McClane can see things like Gruber’s suit, his hair, etc.
  3. McClane’s rank in the police is Detective, so he detects. He would have been able to piece together the little bits of evidence he has collected over the events of the film and come to a reasonable conclusion over who ‘Bill Clay’ really was right?
  4.  An alternate theory – McClane really didn’t know. However, he is just not stupid enough to hand over a loaded gun to a civilian during a terrorist/hostage situation without any background checks. He handed an empty gun to a civilian just to make them feel safer.
  5. Another idea. We the viewer follow Gruber when he goes to check the roof and what leads to the main event between him and McClane. So as we do not see exactly what McClane is getting up to while Gruber is doing his checks. Its only when Gruber jumps down from checking the explosives that McClane appears. How do we know that McClane didn’t simply see Gruber heading to the roof and followed him? The film already showed that McClane was watching what the terrorists were doing.

So even without deleted scenes…where is this ‘major plot hole’?

Am I alone here? Before a few weeks back when de Souza explained why this ‘plot hole’ exists, I had never though of of it as a plot hole before (and I’ve watched Die Hard a lot), I think it even less of a plot hole since his explanation. The whole thing just does not add up.

McClane smoking

I quite enjoyed this looking at so-called ‘plot holes’, may have to do more in the future…

Alan Rickman

What a shitty few days eh?
On Sunday, we lost a musical genius and true artist with David Bowie. Now one of the most amazing and talented actors to ever grace the screen or tread the boards has now gone too.

Strangely enough they have both died at the age of 69 and both from cancer too.

young

Alan was born Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman on 21 February 1946.
He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and got his first acting role in a TV movie of Romeo & Juliet in 1978 playing Tybalt. His big break came with his role as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. His stage performances include The Seagull, Romeo and Juliet, A View from the Bridge, As You Like It and The Barchester Chronicles through the 70s and 80s.

It was during the late 80s when he moved to L.A to peruse a career in movies, and what a career he had.
His film roles include parts in Truly Madly Deeply, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility. The TV movie Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny for which Alan won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy.
One of my favourite films; Dogma. He even showed his more playful and comedic talent in Galaxy Quest and even provided a voice for the animated sit-com, King Of The Hill.
Of course Alan also lent his amazing talent to the Harry Potter franchise playing Severus Snape.

Snape

As a well as featuring in the Tim Burton films; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland as well as its upcoming sequel.

I have only touched on a few of this great actors performances over the years.

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Rickman not only had an illustrious career as an actor but also a director on both the silver screen and also theatre.
In 2005, he directed the award-winning play; My Name is Rachel Corrie. He also directed two feature films; The Winter Guest (1997) and A Little Chaos (2014).

Rickman had one of those very distinctive and claiming voices. You could just close your eyes right now and hear him in your head can’t you?

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Of his many, many roles, the one I will always remember him for is Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

Hans

One of the best action/thrillers of the 80s. Based on the novel; Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. The film was the first starring role for the then relatively unknown Bruce Willis. Yet it was Rickman that stole the show playing Hans Gruber, leader of a “terrorist” group taking control of a skyscraper and holding 40 odd hostages.

Hans was slick, charming, charismatic…but also ruthless, deadly and sadistic. He could make you smile and just as easily put a bullet between your eyes too. A bad guy you really enjoyed watching and could even root for. Alan played the part perfectly and the character has left a lasting impression on a generation of film fans like myself.
Bruce was good, but this film would just not have worked as well as it did without Alan Rickman as the big bad.

He also landed this iconic and career defining role only two days after moving to L.A. to pursue a film career.

Alan Rickman was to acting what Elvis was to music. Did not matter what he was doing whether it be comedy, drama, romance, action, etc. He could do it all and always impressed each and every time.
He could even make an unbearable film enjoyable to watch just by being in it.

One of the best villainous actors of all time.
When Alan was good, he was great. But when he was bad he was even better.

Alan Rickman died in London on January 14th 2016 at the age of 69 from cancer.

There is really only one way to say goodbye to the man that played Hans Gruber…

Happy trails Hans.

Alan

Alan Rickman:I do feel more myself in America. I can regress there, and they have roller-coaster parks.

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Die Hard

Poster

Little Bit of History: Directed by John McTiernan and starring Bruce Willis launching his movie career and cementing him as a genuine Hollywood star. Distributed by 20th Century Fox and originally released on July 15 (my birthday), 1988. Die Hard was an action/thriller like no other before it and changed Hollywood action cinema forever. Based on the novel: Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, which itself was a sequel to his: The Detective novel that was also turned into a film starring Frank Sinatra in 1968.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: Bruce Willis plays everyday New York cop, John McClane. On a visit to Los Angeles to see his estranged wife, Holly and their children. John McClane goes to meet his wife at her work in the Nakatomi Plaza building during a Christmas party. The party is prematurely cut short by the arrival of Hans Gruber and his heavily armed group of henchmen, where they seize the building and secure all inside as hostages, except for John McClane who manages to slip away undetected and fights back to free the hostages and take down Hans and his men.

Little Bit of Character: With Bruce Willis playing the now iconic action hero, John Mcclane. There was the brilliantly charismatic bad guy, Hans Gruber played by Alan Rickman. Holly McClane the no nonsense estranged wife played by Bonnie Bedelia. Hans henchmen such as Karl, Franco, Tony, Theo, Alexander, Marco, Kristoff, Eddie, Uli, Heinrich, Fritz, and James.

Little Bit of Influence: For years after the release of Die Hard, most action movies were labeled as “Die Hard on/in a…” with films such as Speed (Die Hard on a bus), Under Siege (Die Hard on a ship), Passenger 57 (Die Hard on a plane) and even the cringeworthy, Anna Nicole Smith starring Skyscraper (Die Hard in a…well building). Die Hard influenced action cinema for decades with many production companies churning out similar films with similar plots and themes. But Die Hard went on to be a very successful franchise in itself spawning four cinematic sequels (with another one rumored), various video games and even a comic book series called Die Hard: Year One which served as a prequel to the original movie.

Little Bit of Memories: I remember my older brother coming home with a copy of this film when I was younger and we sat down to watch it, which was the first time I ever saw this film. I also recall the amazing, twisting plot where nothing was what it seems. Even to the point where the writing makes you think the hero could die.

Little Bit of Watchability: Still one of the very best films made in any genre and while it shows some ageing and is very 80’s in many respects. It also manages to avoid many of the action cliches of the time and brings something refreshing to the table. I most definitely recommend this to anyone that wants a good slice of action/thriller cinema which does pretty much everything perfectly. The film has become one of my alternative Christmas classics and gets watched every Christmas without fail.

DH 1

John McClane: Was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually. I really like those sequined shirts.

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