Tag Archives: Die Hard

Good And Bad Die Hard Rip-Offs

When it was released in 1988 (happy 30th), Die Hard was a revelation in action films. It took a lot of the clichés most other action films were guilty of overusing and turned them on their head. Die Hard blew film-goers away and can still hold it’s own against other actions films released now. It became as massive success and went in to spawn a huge franchise in it’s own right, not just with movies – the sixth of which (called McClane) is in production as I write this. But there were Die Hard games, comic books and all sorts of memorabilia. And I’ve been celebrating three decades of Die Hard all this year with numerous articles covering the film. 

Die Hard Art

Credit to Chris Weston over at Xombiedirge.com for this amazing fan-art.

The staggering success of Die Hard gave birth to an often used motif in action cinema, the Die Hard rip-off. For years and still even today, whenever an action film is released that features a usually lone hero going up against bad guys and normally in a confined setting, it gets lumbered with the “Die Hard on/in/at a…” label. So in no particular order or preference, here are some good and bad Die Hard rip-offs. 

Skyscraper – (A.K.A Die Hard In A Skyscraper)

Skyscraper

No, not the recent Dwayne Johnson flick of the same name, this is the 1996 Skyscraper  that took the idea of Die Hard and set it in a skyscraper… like Die Hard. Implementing the now often overused idea of the gender swap and making the hero and heroine. Starring cough “actress” Anna Nicole Smith and swapping the human and everyday main with a heart characteristics of John McClane with big tits.

Anna Nicole Smith plays Carrie Wink, a helicopter pilot who finds herself caught up in a plot involving terrorists and something to do with electronic devices… I’m not 100% sure what the plot is about to be honest or of there really is one. I’m pretty sure this film only exists to show-off Ms Smith’s breasts, at least they are the only two things I remember about the film anyway.

This is bad, this is really, really bad. But I guess Anna Nicole Smith was nice to look at.

Sudden Death – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Sports Stadium)

Sudden Death

This Jean-Claude Van Damme starring flick came out in 1995 and has “The Muscles From Brussels” taking on bad guys till Sudden Death. Released when Van Damme as at the top of his game and making a name for himself as a bankable action hero.

Set in a hockey arena, Van Damme plays fire marshal Darren McCord (its almost McClane) who attends a big hockey game with his son and daughter. While at the game, a group of terrorists arrive and hold various V.I.Ps  hostage in a luxury suite. McCord steps up to save the day and the lives of his children as the terrorists plan on blowing up the stadium when the hockey game ends unless their demands are met. 

To be honest, this one is half decent. I do love some JCVD and while this is far from his best, it’s also far from his worst. Plus you get to see JCVD kick a penguin.

Passenger 57 – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Plane)

Passenger 57

From 1992 comes this high octane and cliché ridden (such as using phrases like “high octane” to describe and action film set on a plane) picture with Wesley Snipes. At the time Snipes wasn’t really known for action flicks but soon became an action star after this one… a bit like Bruce Willis with Die Hard really. 

John McClane… sorry, John Cutter played by Snipes is a retired United States Secret Service agent who now teaches self defence to flight attendants. While struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife during a botched robbery, Cutter is offered a new job as the vice president of a new anti-terrorism unit. Cutter is the 57th passenger on a flight to Los Angeles (where was Die Hard set again?) to attend a meeting regarding his new job. Oh and on the same flight is psychopathic terrorist Charles Rane being escorted by two FBI agents. Shortly after take off, things go wrong when Rane and his cohorts take control of the plane leaving Cutter to save the day.

Snipes is a good action star and this was his first proper stab at the genre. The plot is very predicable but it’s a good film overall. Always bet on the one that isn’t red.

Air Force One – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Plane)

Air Force One

Yes even the Die Hard rip-off begin to rip-off the rip-offs eventually. This one is from 1997 and stars the legend that is Harrison Ford. An impressive all star cast join Ford in this high octane (sorry) action flick set in on the most famous plane in the world.

So Ford plays U.S. President James Marshall (J.M, John McClane?) who after attending a diplomatic dinner in Moscow, boards Air Force One to return to America. Only for Russian terrorists posing as the press to seize control of the plane and take hostages. Marshall is rushed to an escape pod for his own safety… only he never leaves and stays on-board to save the lives of his wife and child along with the other hostages.

So you’ve got Harrison Ford, a legendary action hero – going up against Gary Oldman, a legendary bad guy. Ford mumbles his way through the film as Oldman chews the scenery like he’s not eaten in a month… and it’s glorious.

Con Air – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Plane)

Con Air

Okay so now the rip-offs are ripping off the rip-offs that are ripping off the rip-offs… I think. Also from 1997 comes this other high octane (last one I promise) plane based action film. With Nicolas Cage in the main role.

Cage is Cameron Poe, an Army Ranger who’s honourably discharged after killing a man who tired to attack his pregnant wife. Poe serves ten years in prison but is paroled two years early. He has to take his final trip home to reunite with his wife and see his daughter for the first time, as a prisoner aboard The Jailbird – a flying prison transport along with several other prisoners being transported to other jails. Of of course the bad guys take control of the plane leaving Poe to clean up the mess.

Of all the Die Hard on a plane rip-offs (there’s a lot of them), this is my favourite. Cage is brilliant as the hero with a heart plus you have John Malkovich playing the main villain. 

Under Siege – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Boat)

Under Siege

“I’m just a cook”, Steven Seagal liked to tell people back in 1992 as he continually punched people in the face on board a Navy battleship in Under Siege. At least it made a change from a plane right?

So Seagal plays Casey Ryback, he’s just a cook (honest) on board the USS Missouri. A musical band land on the battleship to entertain the troops… only they turn out to be a band of mercenaries who take control of the ship. As it turns out, Ryback is a little more than just the cook (he lied) as he’s a highly trained and experienced Navy SEAL who specialises in anti-terrorism tactics. So of course he kills the bad guys, gets the girl and saves the day. Not bad for a cook.

Perhaps one of the most famous rip-offs when people knew who Steven Seagal was. Again an enjoyable romp, nowt too special but fun… just avoid the terrible sequel.

No Contest – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Beauty Pageant)

No Contest

Yeah you read that right. Just think of all the locales already mentioned and where one could set a Die Hard rip-off… would you think a beauty contest would work? This one is from 1995 and stars very soft porn actress Shannon Tweed… she’s married to Gene Simmons you know?

Yeah this is as bad as it sounds. Tweed plays kick-boxer/actress Sharon Bell who while at A Miss Galaxy beauty pageant, fends off a gang who take hostages. The gang demand diamonds as a ransom or they’ll… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… Sorry dozed off for a while there. Oh errrrr, Robert (“Agent Johnson, no the other one”) Davi from Die Hard is in it.

This is fucking atrocious, I mean – this is Die Hard 4 & 5 levels of bad. Even worse, they made a sequel… don’t look it up.

Icebreaker – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Ski Resort)

Icebreaker.png

It’s time to hit the piste as Sean Astin plays Matt Foster – the cough “hero”. Released in 2000 a year before people would finally recognise Sean Austin as a Hobbit.

So everything is going great at the Killington ski resort. Foster, one of the resort’s Ski Patrol is seen as a bum by his soon to be father-in-law. Enter terrorist Carl Greig who takes control of the ski resort/. The plot has something to do with radio active material stolen from Russia or something. I really lost interest in this one, can’t really remember the plot if I’m honest. But whatever happened in the plot, Foster gets the chance to impress his fiancé’s father when he saves the day.

Dull film with a bland plot. Still, Bruce Campbell plays the main bad guy and that’s the only good thing about the film.

Speed – (A.K.A Die Hard On A Bus)

Speed

Very few of these Die Hard rip-offs are any good. Some of them are terrible, most of them are okay and a handful of them are fantastic. Speed is definitely one of the greats. Released in 1994 when the Die Hard rip-off still felt fresh and starring John Wick, sorry Keanu Reeves.

Reeves plays Jack Traven a young SWAT officer who finds himself trapped on a bus armed with a bomb after he thwarted a previous attempt to extort money via the use of a bomb by madman Howard Payne. When the bus hits 50 MPH, the bomb is armed and if it drops below 50, it blows up killing all on board. Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you do? Traven teams up with plucky bus driver, Annie to save the hostages on board the bus as well as themselves.

The chemistry between Keanu Reeves’ Jack Traven and Sandra Bullock as Annie is wonderful. The action is exiting and well directed. Plus you have legendary Dennis Hopper playing the mad bomber. When it comes to Die Hard rip-off, they don’t get better than this… the sequel though?

Command Performance – (A.K.A Die Hard At A Live Gig)

Command Performace

From 2009 comes this written by, directed by and starring Dolph Lundgren flick. The film is said to be (very loosely) based on a true story where Madonna performed a special live gig for Vladimir Putin… only with a large sprinkling of fantasy.

So the Russian President asks pop sensation Venus (Madonna/Venus, get it?) to perform an exclusive gig as his daughters are big fans. Lundgren plays Joe, an ex-biker, turned drummer who has to save the day when terrorists turn up at the concert and take the President, along with others as hostages. Joe teams up with young Russian agent Mikhail Kapista to kill the bad guys and save the hostages.

Dolph Lundgren is a drummer in real life and I’m pretty sure the only reason this film exists is so Lundgren can show people he can really drum… and do it well too. Just a shame the film isn’t as good as his drumming. This is one of those very mundane Die Hard rip-offs. It’s not terrible, its far from great – it just kind of is.


 

Well there you have it, a few good, and more than a few bad Die Hard rip-offs. Trust me, there’s a lot more out there – I’ve only just touched on a handful of the more famous ones as well as highlight some of the not so famous ones… Die Hard at a beauty pageant, seriously?

Die Hard Art Feet

More stunning fan-art from Chris Weston at Xombiedirge.com

Next up in my celebration of 30 years of Die Hard, I’m tackling the big one, a subject I’ve avoided for a long time. It’s December so it just seems right that I offer my own opinion on that yearly debate and eternal question that is, is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

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Die Hard Games Retrospective

Yes I’m still celebrating the 30th anniversary of Die Hard as I’ve been doing throughout this year with numerous articles and I still have a few more to come including offering my own opinion on the biggest topic of every festive season. But before then, I want to take a look at the games based on and inspired by the movie series.

When I first started to think about this topic – only a few Die Hard games initially came to mind, that NES one, the trilogy thing on the PlayStation, oh and that arcade game. At first I thought this was going to be a relatively short article. But then other Die Hard games began to creep into my noodle, games I had played and long forgotten about. Plus a little digging around on the interwebs brought a whole slew of other Die Hard games to my attention. Turns out that John McClane has had quite a long career in video games over the years.

So let’s not dally around any longer, time to take on some terrorists, look at some Die Hard games and ask how can the same shit happen to the same guy twelve times?

Die Hard

Die Hard DOS

The first game was released in 1989 for DOS and developed by Dynamix, Inc. This game was a third person action shooter with some survival mechanics thrown in. With you playing as John McClane following the same plot as the film with you having to take on Hans Gruber and his men while trying to save hostages.

Featuring early 3D graphics and some EGA renditions of stills from the movie to forward the story. Strangely though Bruce Willis’ likeness is not used and McClane’s appearance is altered from the movie, he’s not even wearing the right coloured top – but Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber is shown in all it’s early DOS graphical glory.

Gans Gruber DOS

You would have to go from floor to floor taking on terrorists as you scoured Nakatomi Plaza in search of items and weapons to help you survive. Take out a bad guys and you could search them too for ammo. Many of the films iconic action sequences are represented in the game including the throwing C-4 down the lift shaft, jumping from the roof as it explodes and of course facing off against Hans himself. The game features multiple possible endings from saving the day just like in the movie to Hans getting away with the money and killing Holly too.

Die Hard DOS Action

For the time, Die Hard was a very advanced game using not just action but also survival ideas to make a highly unique game… tough as nails hard though but if you persevered and learned all the game had to offer, then you would be rewarded with a great title.

Die Hard

Die Hard C64

This one was released for the Commodore 64 in 1990 and developed by Silent Software. It’s basically a port of the previous DOS game only a lighter version and changed to a side scroller due to the limitations of the Commodore 64. So gone are those fancy 3D environments. But don’t worry, Hans still shows up in glorious C-64, pixel vision.

Die Hard C64 Action

No real point in going into details with this one as it’s pretty much the same game as the previous one. Some of the survival elements were toned down to make the game more action-centric but still essentially the same thing as before. But hey, they got the colour of McClane’s shirt right in this one. This one is okay, it lacks the depth of it’s DOS bigger brother but certainly playable though.

Die Hard

Die Hard TurboGrafx 16.jpg

Also released in 1990 was this exclusive to Japan for the TurboGrafx-16 game developed by Pack-In-Video Co., Ltd. Very different from the previous two games we have seen so far with it being a top-down/arcade action title. While it followed the plot of the movie, it still used some creative licence along the way.

You start the game in a forest… just not like in the movie. The game features various weapons, like a lazer… just not like in the movie and the final boss fight is with an attack helicopter… just not like in the movie. As I said, the game uses some creative license. I suppose one could compare this to the arcade classic Commando. It has the same top-down viewpoint and its one of those run and gun type games with you shooting your way through dozens and dozens of bad guys.

Die Hard TurboGrafx 16 action

After you get out of the forest that is not in the film, the game does take place in Nakatomi Plaza and it begins to look a lot more like the flick. But the whole building is like a huge maze with branching paths and various doors to go through, you’ll find yourself getting lost pretty quickly. Still, it’s a decent game overall if a little frustrating, full of action and yeah it feels very Die Hard once out of the opening couple of stages and if you put those lazers at the back of your mind.

Die Hard

Die Hard NES.jpg

Perhaps the most (in)famous of the early Die Hard games. Released for the NES in 1991, developed by Pack-In-Video Co., Ltd. Another top-down shooter but very different from the previous game… but at least you don’t start out in a forest.

The game follows the same plot as the movie with McClane stuck in Nakatomi Plaza having to fend of terrorists and stop them breaking into the vault to steal the cash (bearer bonds in the movie). You start out with nothing, not even a gun, but if you manage to punch the crap out of the first bad guy, you’ll soon find yourself armed with a gun. Basically all you have to do is clear each floor of terrorists, find Hans and stop him. The main problem with this game is the time limit as there are about 3-4 minutes between each lock on the vault being opened and when all locks are opened, it’s game over. The time limit is way to strict and gives you little room to explore which is a shame because the game pretty much requires you to be a little stealthy/slow.

Die Hard NES Action.jpg

There are a couple of interesting aspects that include a foot meter. This is really a heath bar for your feet and the more damage your feet get (like walking on broken glass), the slower you move… yes like in the movie. Plus you can listen in on Hans talking to his henchmen via a C.B. radio… yes like in the movie. The story is played out with still cut-scenes taken from the movie, still no Bruce Willis though, but Alan Rickman is here.

It’s actually an interesting game with some great features, but that damn time limit really ruins this one as it forces you to run around like a headless chicken when you really need to take your time and explore the levels. The game features multiple endings once more including Hans escaping with Holly.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard 2 Amiga

Developed by Tiertex Ltd. and released for Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and DOS. This one hit the shop shelves in 1992 and is based on the movie of the same name. Going for a first person view point, this was one of those light-gun games… without the light-gun.

Set over five stages based on scenes from the film and each stage split into three screens, kill the bad guys on each screen to advance to the next one, clear all three screens to move onto the next stage. You know these type of games, bad guys keep popping up, you shoot them and they drop power-ups, weapons and ammo. Occasionally a civilian will run in the line of fire instead of staying in cover (because they’re stupid), rinse and repeat. It’s a shooting gallery and not a good one.

Die Hard 2 Amiga Action

This one’s not very good at all, it’s just so damn dull and there are better games of it’s ilk around, even in 92 it felt 10 years out of date and that feeling is much worse now. The screens don’t scroll or anything, they are completely static. If you can stomach the game until the end you’ll get one of the worst game endings ever with a blue screen displaying “You completed your mission” and that’s it. Best to avoid this one.

Die Hard Trilogy

Die HArd Trilogy.jpg

This could be the most famous game based on the movies. Released for PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Windows in 1996. Developed by Probe Entertainment Ltd., this one takes the films of the then trilogy and melds them into one huge game. I think I’ll need to split this up into three sub-sections to cover as each game is different.

Die Hard: A third person action shooter based on the first film. Playing as McClane you fight your way up Nakatomi Plaza shooting terrorists, picking up ammo and weapons. Clear each floor of bad guys and move onto the next. I guess its pretty similar to the previous NES game I’ve covered… only without that annoying timer allowing you to enjoy the game at your own pace. Explore each floor, kill bad guys, save hostages, take in the badly dubbed lines from the movie. It’s very faithful to the film too and you’ll recognise some of the locales within Nakatomi Plaza. Yup this one is a stone cold classic that plays well and despite a little clunkyness, it’s still very playable today too. A truly great Die Hard game that does the film justice and it’s only the first third too.

Die HArd Trilogy Die Hard

Die Hard 2: Die Harder: Going for a first person view point, much like the previous Die Hard 2: Die Harder game I just covered, it’s one of those light-gun games… but with the light-gun if you had one or controller if you didn’t. Only this one is far, far superior to that other mess of a game. Taking place though numerous scenes from the film, it’s standard stuff, shoot bad guys, they drop ammo and weapons, civilians will run in the line of fire instead of staying in cover (because they’re stupid), rinse and repeat. The gameplay in this one is much more refined, it plays more like Sega’s Virtua Cop and less like the bland shooting gallery of the other one. There’s some impressive destructible scenery too. Not as good as the first part of this trilogy, but still damn good fun.

Die HArd Trilogy Die Hard 2

Die Hard With A Vengeance: Things are changed up again for the final third and now it’s a driving game. You race around New York in various vehicles such as taxis, ambulances, sports cars and the like. The aim it to find the many bombs Simon Gruber has placed around New York and ram them with your vehicle to defuse them… cos that’s how the bomb squad do it right? There are several power-ups that can be collected including turbo boosts, jumps and extra time. Oh yes, this game has a timer and I hate timers. Of course if you are chasing bombs, it makes sense that there’s a timer but I just do not like them. For me, this is the lesser of the three games in this trilogy but that being said, it’s fast paced and still fun – just not as fun as the other two.

Die HArd Trilogy Die Hard 3

Overall, this game is perhaps the best Die Hard game so far or most probably ever will be. It can be a little frustrating as the controls are very dated now and for me that third game is the weakest. Still as a collection you get three good games all in one that are both faithful to the films they are based on and yet also do their own thing to make for an exciting and entertaining trilogy of games. Oh and all three are overtly violent and bloody too.

Die Hard Arcade

Die Hard Arcade.jpg

Developed by Sega’s AM1 R&D Division and released (unsurprisingly) for the arcade in 1996 with a Sega Saturn port soon following. This one is based on the first movie, in fact, make that “inspired by” not “based on”. The game does take some liberties with the movie as I’ll cover next. It’s a scrolling beat em’ up kind of like Double Dragon or Final Fight only with fancy 3D graphics and environments.

So the story of the game does not follow the movie at all. You can play as either John McClane or Kris Thompsen (or both in two-player) who is an FBI agent I think (never played as her, why would I?) and you are tasked with saving President’s daughter from a skyscraper that I think is supposed to be Nakatomi Plaza from the first movie, the Nakatomi logo is everywhere. So it’s a very different plot. It’s standard scrolling beat em’ up fare, punch and kick bad guys, pick up weapons (one being a grandfather clock), take out more bad guys, get to the boss and kick the shit out of him.

Die Hard Arcade Action.jpg

There are a few QTE sections in the game that split up the levels and all in all, this one is pretty good fun to play. There’s no real depth and it’s very clear it had little to do with Die Hard. Makes me wonder if this was originally developed as an original game and the Die Hard license was slapped on at the last minute. I mean, the Japanese version has nothing to do with Die Hard at all and is called Dynamite Deka – which had a sequel called Dynamite Deka 2… and when that sequel was released outside of Japan it was called Dynamite Cop. So this Die Hard game has a sequel that’s not really a sequel at all.

But anyway, this is a good, all action game with both feet firmly in the arcade. Well worth a play even if it really has very little to do with Die Hard other than it’s name and lead character. It’s a short game and offers no replay value, but its a fun quick blast regardless.

Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas

Die HArd Trilogy 2

Yes the best Die Hard game got a sequel not based on any of the movies. Developed by n-Space, Inc. and released in 2000 for both PlayStation and Windows. This one is a whole new McClane story but still using that three different game concept from the other trilogy game.

Telling a story set after the events of Die Hard With A Vengeance with McClane going to Vegas where he finds himself cleaning up the mess after a prison riot where terrorist Klaus Von Haug attempts to take over Las Vegas with the help of some friends.

Die Hard Trilogy 2 Action.jpg

Okay so I’m not going to split this one up into three different sections as I did with the first game because you don’t play them separately. The three different game modes are here, the third person, the first person and the vehicle section – however they are all intertwined into one game instead of three individual games. So for instance, the first level would be a third person one then the next one would be a first person and the one after that would be a driving level and the game continues like that. Still that is if you play it in Movie Mode to follow the plot. You can also play Arcade Mode where you can choose which of the three gameplay styles you want, so you can play just the third person, first person or driving sections if you like.

This one is pretty bad. It’s a different developer from the first game and it really, really shows too. None of the three different gameplay styles work here and they all seem several steps backward since the first game. A very disappointing sequel to a great Die Hard game.

Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza

Released in 2002 for Windows and developed by Piranha Games, Inc., this game is a sort of remake of the movie. It follows the plot of the film to the letter, but still uses a little creative license to add some new ideas and even shows what McClane was up to when we do not see him in the film.

This one is a first person shooter and originally started out as a mod for Duke Nukem 3D. The development team even went to Fox Plaza (the real Nakatomi Plaza in L.A.) to ensure the game was as faithful as it could be. It uses music and sound effects from the game, even some of the cast provide voices… no Bruce Willis though. It really does follow the film well but still does it’s own thing along the way to expand the gameplay. It keeps things as close to the movie as possible to the point where the only weapons in the game are the only ones used in the film – so no lazers here.

Die Hard Nakatomi Plaza

It’s a pretty good shooter that does the film justice. Bearing in mind this was low budget and as I said, it started out life as a mod for another game too. Still with the limed funds and small development team, they made a solid Die Hard game that any fan of the flick will enjoy.

Die Hard: Vendetta

Die Hard Vendetta.jpg

Developed by Bits Studios Ltd. and released in 2002 for GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Once more, another first person shooter, only this one tells a whole new story. Set several years after the events of the third film and McClane is now working for the Century City Police Department in Los Angeles along with his now adult daughter Lucy. Enter Piet Gruber, Hans’ son who kidnaps Lucy and you have to save her.

The main problem with this game is that first person shooters were everywhere back in the early 2000s and to stand out, they needed to be something special. Die Hard: Vendetta isn’t very special. It does a couple of interesting things like being able to take hostages/human shields and the enemies react depending on who you take. There a slo-mo thing called Hero Time where everything slows down but McClane moves at normal speed, so you can dodge bullets and take out bad guys easier. Plus the game has a stealth mechanic and the gameplay is pretty decent. But that’s all it is, decent.

Die Hard Vendetta Action.jpg

The story is trite and playing as McClane is not as fun as it should be despite some interesting mechanics. The game feels very unpolished but what is there is okay at best. Worth a look at least. This was the last “proper” Die Hard game too. All that is left are the final two Die Hard based “games” and they only need a quick look at too…

Die Hard

This one came out in 2013 and was developed by Goroid Games released for Android and iOS. Yes it’s one of those free to play games. Despite it only being called Die Hard it’s actually based on the most recent movie, A Good Day to Die Hard. It’s one of those endless runner type games with some shooting thrown in.

Die Hard Andriod.jpg

If you have played games like Temple Run on your phone, then you know what to expect. This is pretty standard fare and really offers little gameplay other than slide you finger left, right, up, down, etc. Nowt special here, but what is confusing is the next game…

A Good Day to Die Hard

Yes another game based on the most recent film. This one also came out in 2013 and also released for Android. Developed by Gameloft Software Ltd. So yeah, two games based off the same film but where as the previous one was an endless runner game, this one is a side scrolling shooter.

A Good Day to Die Hard Andriod

Playing as John or Jack McClane you find yourself in the midst of the action based on the movie. There’s some light platforming action along side the shooting. Take out the bad guys and continue through the level. Much more fun than the precious game but still a pretty shallow experience overall.


 

And that’s yer lot for Die Hard games. There are some great games with the highlight being Die Hard Trilogy from 98 – still good fun to play today. Some pretty good games such as 2002’s Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza. Then there have been some truly terrible titles with sadly more bad Die Hard games than good ones.

I’m still waiting for the definitive Die Hard game experience. I think a mix of that first part of Die Hard Trilogy melded with elements of Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza along with a pinch of the first Die Hard game on DOS and we could have an amazing game. But things seem to be drying up when it comes to Die Hard games. The latest film is in production as I type this but I doubt that will garner enough interest for someone to develop a full-blown game, I think the best we can hope is another Android/iOS free to play game. I don’t think we will ever see that definitive Die Hard game, I’m pretty sure we can say happy trials to that idea.

From Page To Screen: Die Hard

Today is the 15th of July, my birthday. But despite marking me getting older, this day is important for another reason too. Thirty years ago today and Die Hard was given its official cinematic release. Admittedly, it had its premier on the 12th but it was given a public release on the 15th of July 1988. So yippee ki-yay mother fuckers – Die Hard is thirty years old today.

Die Hard 30th

I have been doing a few Die Hard related articles through the year to celebrate three decades of arguably the greatest action/thriller movie ever from quick nods and references to dedicated articles for the film itself (with more to come later). Today I’m going to try my hand at something different and an idea I have wanted to do for a while now – take a look at the novel that inspired the film and bring up some of the differences. This isn’t to compare the two mediums at all or try to work out which one is “better”, I love both the book and movie for different reasons. No, I just aim to go through the two and bring up the changes (big and small) made from page to film. I have a fair few of these I’d like to do in the future but I think to celebrate 30 years of one of the greatest action/thrillers ever, that Die Hard is a fantastic place to begin this (hopefully) new feature.

So I guess I’d better crack on. But before I do, I will offer my usual SPOILERS warning for both the movie and book from this point on. If you have never read the book, then I strongly suggest you do as it is awesome and offers quite a few surprises even if you know the film inside out.

Die Hard Book.jpg

Yup that is me holding my very own copy of Die Hard the novel…except it wasn’t originally called Die Hard. What I have is a reprint released after the success of the film. Which brings us to the first notable difference. The title. The novel was originally released in 1979 by author Roderick Thorp and was called Nothing Lasts Forever (sounds like a James Bond flick to me) and NLF was even a sequel to Thorp’s own novel, The Detective from 1966.

In DH, the main character played by Bruce Willis is called John McClane. In the book though he is called Joseph Leland. There are other differences to the characters than just their names too. John is a young-ish but experienced New York cop with a witty almost sarcastic attitude (“No fucking shit lady, do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza!”) and problems with authority figures. Joseph however is an older, more grizzled and weary character and now retired from the police force. His attitude seemingly comes from his many years as a cop, some of which are from the previous book along with his time serving as a fighter pilot during World War II. This man has seen his fair share of death already and is vastly different to the upbeat and wisecracking John McClane from the flick.

John McClane

When we first meet John in the film, he is on a plane from New York and just landed in L.A. on his way to meet his estranged wife, Holly at a Christmas party held at her work place of Nakatomi Plaza. Joseph’s introduction is a little different – though the scenario is similar. We meet him in the book as he rides in a taxi on his way to the airport to catch a plane to L.A. There’s some issues with traffic and Joseph brandishes his gun – showing his short temper and bitter anger very early on. He is flying to L.A. to meet up with Stephanie Gennaro, his only child who works for the Klaxon Oil company to celebrate the closing of a huge multi-million dollar deal on Christmas Eve. The relationship between father and daughter has been strained since the death of Joseph’s wife (Stephanie’s mother) eight years previously.

At the building in DH, John quickly scopes the place out before meeting Harry Ellis, the sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine, who has eyes for Holly – John doesn’t much like him. This is similar in the book too as Joseph does pretty much the same, checking out the Klaxon building on his arrival. He also gets to meet Harry Ellis who is also a sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine. However, in NLF Harry is actually sleeping with Stephanie which Joseph instantly takes a disliking to. DH also features Joseph Takagi, Holly’s boss and head executive of Nakatomi. A character John seems to like during their brief introduction. NLF also has a boss character called Mr. Rivers as the president of Klaxon Oil. Its made pretty clear in the book that Joseph really doesn’t like Rivers at all and sees him as trouble and a bad influence for his daughter and thinks she is becoming just like these coke snorting assholes she is working with. There is the very expensive watch in both too. In DH, its a gift to Holly from her boss for helping to close a big deal. In NLF, the watch was bought buy Stephanie herself and this tiny detail is important, later…

Ellis

The film and book pretty much follow the exact same plot form this point onward. In DH, John is separated from the party as he cleans himself up after his flight. He’s making fists with his toes as the terrorists strike and John hears gunfire. As all hell breaks loose, John manages to slip away from the main action avoiding being rounded up with the other hostages, barefoot and with only his service pistol for backup. Joseph in NLF pretty much does the exact same thing. Its here in the flick when we get to meet one of the greatest cinematic villains ever. Hans Gruber, played flawlessly by the great Alan Rickman. Hans is slick, charismatic, well educated and highly intelligent. In NLF, the main villain is Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber. They are pretty similar in their personalities but I guess the main difference between Hans and Anton is their goal. In DH, Hans uses a facade of a terrorist attack to steal $640 million in bearer bonds from the vaults of Nakatomi Plaza. But in NLF, there is no facade. Anton and his cohorts are real terrorists and are there to take on Klaxon Oil over the very deal Stephanie and her colleagues are celebrating. You see, Klaxon Oil have been dealing with Chile’s junta and Anton plans to steal documents that he will use to publicly expose Klaxon Oil for all their corruption.

Nakatomi Plaza.jpg

Once the action kicks into gear, there aren’t too many notable differences. In fact some of the iconic action sequences from DH are lifted verbatim from NLF.  The killing of the first terrorist is the same including the broken neck along with the undignified trip in an elevator while wearing the “Now I have a machine gun” sweatshirt. Only in the book the message reads “Now we have a machine gun”. Its a subtle change for sure, but its also one worth mentioning as it shows Joseph’s line of thinking and how he is playing mind games with the terrorists by tricking them into thinking there is more than one of him running around the building. The elevator shaft escape while being hunted down, getting trapped in the air ducts, etc. All in both the movie and the book. As are the throwing a dead terrorist out of the building to get the attention of the police, strapping C-4 to a chair and using it to stop the terrorists from killing the police all from the book. Think of a major action sequence in the film and you’ll find it on the page.

There is even a Sergeant Al Powell who John/Joseph communicates with throughout the story. But where Al in the movie is a older, experienced cop – in the book he’s in his early 20s and with much less experience under his belt. Yet they both serve the same purpose in both the film and book and this it to keep John/Joseph as clam and sane as they can through the whole ordeal. There’s also a Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson in both the picture and the novel and yes, they are both complete assholes too who think of John/Joseph as doing more harm than good. I guess its also worth noting that earlier in the book as he was flying to L.A., Joseph made friends with a stewardess named Kathi who he manages to talk to several times through the book.

Powell

More of the same with John/Joseph listening in and feeling helpless as Hans/Anton kills Harry Ellis over the matter of getting his detonators back. Only the book makes it much more clear that Joseph feels responsible for the death although there was nothing he could’ve done. Yes even the fire-hose/exploding roof jump escape is in both the movie and book. So is the psychical damage done to John/Joseph as they both get beaten and bloody throughout – though in my opinion, I feel the book does a far better job of detailing and getting across just how much physical abuse Joseph goes through in the novel over John in the film. Some of the descriptions in the novel vastly outweigh anything John suffers in the film.

A big difference between film and the book is that the novel is told pretty much always from the point of view of Joseph Leland. In the film we get to see several scenes that follow and detail what Hans and the boys are up to, what the police are doing while John runs around Nakatomi Plaza. The book doesn’t really do any of that and we only learn what the terrorists are doing if and when Joseph sees or hears it. There are also times when Joseph thinks back to his World War II days and some of the horrors he witnessed that shaped him to be the troubled and and bitter but tough retired cop he now is. Overall, Joseph is given a much more detailed backstory in the book over John in the film.

Now for the ending and once more, I will issue another SPOILER warning here as the books ending is similar but also very different to the movie. Its well worth experiencing as a first time reader rather than have it ruined for you here. Read on at your own peril.

Hans Fall

DH has one of the most iconic and satisfying endings in action cinema. The way John’s quick thinking with some seasonal sellotape and only two rounds of ammo is a joy to watch. The image of Hans falling backward out of the window while still holding the watch enveloped wrist of Holly, slowly pulling her to her possible death – only for John to save his wife at the last second by unfastening the watch. The ending of NLF is similar as Joseph finds himself is much the same situation. Yes he has his gun taped to his back to as he faces Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber who is using Joseph’s daughter, Stephanie as human shield.

Things don’t exactly go the same way though for Joseph in the book as they did for John in the movie. Anton manages to shoot Stephanie in the gut just as Joseph empties his gun into Anton. As he falls out of the window, Anton manages to grab Stephanie’s watch…you know the one she bought for herself to celebrate the big deal Klaxon Oil signed off on and the very reason Anton and his cohorts turned up at the Christmas party to begin with. Anton begins to fall to his inevitable death dragging Joseph’s only child, Stephanie with him and they both fall from the Klaxon Oil building before Joseph can react. Yes, they kill off the girl and its pretty shocking too knowing the ending to DH. Joseph snaps and hunts down the rest of the terrorists, he finds an unarmed female member of Anton’s group who is trying to surrender and kills her in cold blood by shooting her in the head out of anger. Its pretty brutal stuff.

Joseph then discovers some corporate documents that detail everything Klaxon Oil had been doing including arms deals with the Chilean junta. Illegal deals that Stephanie was fully compliant with. This is why the little detail of who bought the watch is very important. In DH, the watch is a gift to Holly from her boss to celebrate her helping to close a big deal. In NLF though is was Stephanie who bought the watch for herself to celebrate closing a shady deal between Klaxon and the Chilean junta, shady and illegal deals she was directly involved in and the very reason Anton launched the terrorist attack to begin with. Its this point in the book when it hits you that the terrorists were the good guys and Stephanie’s death via her own greed of the watch is pretty damn justified. If she hand’t gotten involved in all the illegal activity at Klaxon Oil, if she hadn’t bought that watch – then she would’ve lived.

Of course there is still the little stinger at the very end that needs looking at. In DH, John and Holly get out of the building and our hero sees Al Powell for the first time after spending a big chunk of the movie talking to him via a walkie-talkie. They share that look of respect and admiration without a word spoken now all the terrorists are dead. But then Karl, a previously believed dead terrorist appears, bloody and beaten. He aims a gun squarely at the unarmed John. Al opens fire killing Karl where he stands. John and Holly drive off into the sunrise as the credits roll while Vaughn Monroe belts out “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Classic.

Karl

That stinger is in the book too, only it plays out a little differently. Joseph emerges from the Klaxon building, he’s tired, bloody and now his only child is dead – he’s a completely broken man lost in his own madness and anger. Karl appears just as he does in the film, only he sprays the gathered crowd outside the building with automatic gunfire killing plenty of people, mainly reporters who have surrounded Joseph trying to get an interview. People die…lots of people as Karl tries to shoot Joseph. He does manage to shoot our hero in the leg and would have finished the job too but for a rather shocking moment where Al Powell grabs hold of Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson and forces him in the line of fire and Dwayne is mortally shot…Al kills Dwayne, yeah he was an asshole but still, fucking hell! Al then kills Karl by shooting him in the head. Joseph is taken away in an ambulance as he lies an the gurney a broken man who has lost everything. The end.


Die Hard Vent.jpg

So there you have it some (not all) of the differences between Die Hard and the novel it is based on, Nothing Lasts Forever. As I said at the start, I haven’t written this to decide which is best –  I love them both but for very different reasons. Like most, I saw the flick before I read the book and while they are both very similar in the basic plot, there are still many changes between the two that I feel make both investing some time in.

I enjoy Die Hard for its everyday guy against the odds story. The character of John McClane is an utterly charming and engrossing one. The ending is rousing and uplifting. Then there is Nothing Lasts Forever. Which I see as the darker, negative mirror image of Die Hard. Joseph Leland is a cantankerous, rougher and older character. Killing off his daughter is a ballsy move but one that pays off when you realise she is really one of the bad guys through the illegal deals of the Klaxon Oil company she works for. The realisation that the terrorists are really the good guys is a brilliant twist and when you think about it, if Joseph had done nothing and was taken away with the rest of the hostages…then no one would’ve died including his daughter and the dodgy, illegal deals that Klaxon were involved in would have been revealed. Really, Joseph fucked everything up…he’s the bad guy.

I really enjoyed looking at these differences between book and movie and will do more in the future. Now where did I put my The Crow graphic novel?

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.
  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…

The Best (Or Worst) Cinematic Villains

With the major disappointment of a bad guy that was the boring CGI-fest, Steppenwolf from the recent Justice League flick. I got to thinking about some of my favourite on-screen villains over the years. From total, outright murderous killers to more subtle antagonists that have you rooting for the bad guy or feeling sorry for them despite their nefarious ways. There is one thing all the villains on my list have that Justice League‘s Steppenwolf does not… personality, character, depth, charm and screen presence – okay so that’s more than one thing – but you get the point, Steppenwolf was shit.

A film’s bad guy (or gal) can be both despised and revered at the same time if they are written/acted well enough and a good villain is required for the film to work. So here we go and in no particular order – with my top (whatever number as I’m not counting) list of cinematic antagonists. Pre-warning SPOILERS ahead for some films…

Terminator (The Terminator)

Terminator

The movie role that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood fame. A killer cyborg sent from the future to kill the leader of the resistance that will stop the machine’s rule over the humans – before he has even been born. The Terminator is a low budget sci-fi/horror flick with a lot of heart and ambition. Still one of the all time great pictures that sticks in the mind thanks to its then unknown star, Schwarzenegger playing the titular Terminator… or The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, Series T-800 – if you prefer.

A chilling villain that is seemingly unstoppable and for me, still Schwarzenegger’s finest on screen role that packs in a hell of a lot of screen presence even though he only has only 14 lines of dialogue in the entire flick.

Terminator: “Fuck you, asshole.”

The Kurgan/Victor Kruger (Highlander)

The Kurgan

Cruel, ruthless, megalomaniacal and brutal – The Kurgan (real name unknown) is the antagonist from Highlander, played to perfection by Clancy Brown. He sees no issue with running people through with his sword or terrorising nuns in a church. Not much is known about the character other than he used to be a member of an ancient tribe of the Russian Steppes known only as ‘The Kurgan’… which is where he took the name from. When he became an immortal is also unknown and its the unknown that makes the character so damn enjoyable. All we do know about him is that he likes to kill people – especially other immortals.

Brown’s performance as The Kurgan is both terrifying and humorous at the same time. A dark charm that should be wrong, but feels so very right with just the perfect amount of fun thrown in.

Kurgan: “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”

Biff/Griff/Buford Tannen (Back to the Future)

Biff-Griff-Buford

I think Marty McFly pretty much summed it up when he said “He’s an asshole!” when describing Buford Tannen. Pick any of the iterations of the character from any of the Back to the Future flicks and they are complete assholes… yes even the mild and meek post 1955 time travel version of Biff is somewhat ‘off’ despite him being transformed into a ‘good guy’. Through the Tannen family history, they have killed lawmen, bullied and beaten up countless school kids, attempted to rape Lorraine Baines… oh and murdered George McFly. Yet each and every time they meet a rather repugnant end involving manure.

With Tom Wilson playing each of the Tannen kin through the years. There has been around 130 years of sheer ‘assholery’ through the Back to the Future trilogy and every second of it has been a joy to watch.

Biff Tannen: “Since you’re new here, I’m gonna cut you a break… today. So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here!”

Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

Roy Batty

Whenever Rutger Hauer plays a bad guy – he proves why he’s one of the best. In fact, when it came to putting this list together – I had a tough time between choosing Roy Batty or ‘John Ryder’ from The Hitcher. I settled on Batty because I have something else planed for Ryder later…

Hauer plays the role as cold as he could giving Batty a chilling persona as the replicant (android made identical to humans but with a shorter life) just trying to find his creator to ask for more life. And when he does finally find his ‘father’, he ends up killing him in a brutal manner. One of the few cinematic villains you genuinely end up feeling sorry for, thanks to the amazing performance from Hauer – especially after his short but eloquent farewell speech.

Roy Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)

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Tommy DeVito is a cruel, psychopathic sadist with ‘short man syndrome’ who’ll share a drink with you one second and then stab you in the neck with a pen the next or shoot you in the foot for not walking fast enough. With the mighty Joe Pesci playing the role, we are given a bad guy that is as fun as he is twisted.

Pesci made the character much more memorable than anyone could have guessed. Going from laughter to sheer rage on a sixpence and often without warning. DeVito really is one of cinemas all time great bad guys… or Goodfellas. Plus he also gave us one of the greatest and most tense scenes caught on film…

Tommy DeVito: “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe. But I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

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So this one is a little ‘different’ as its a portrayal of a real person and not just anyone – but one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses ever, Joan Crawford – played by Faye Dunaway. Mommie Dearest is a biographical dramatisation flick telling the true-ish story of Joan Crawford adopting a little girl whom she named Christina and finally became a mother after a number of miscarriages.

The film is wonderfully terrifying and that is thanks to Dunaway’s stunning performance as Hollywood royalty – Joan Crawford. The relationship between mother and daughter is disturbing as Crawford pushes and punishes Christina for pretty much nothing. The film was panned by critics when originally released, but has since found its audience today and rightfully so too.

Joan Crawford: “No wire-hangers, ever!”

Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Nurse Ratched

From one crazy-ass bitch to another. Enter Louise Fletcher playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, the main antagonist from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She’s cold-hearted, vindictive and strict as the head nurse of a hospital for patients with mental illnesses. Its when a new patient, R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) enters the hospital that she is pushed to her limit and beyond.

Okay, so I have a confession to make here. I really didn’t want to include Nurse Ratched as a ‘villain’ because I quite honestly do not see her as one. Yeah she’s tough and manipulative – but I’ve always seen her as ‘just doing her job’. For me, I personally find R.P. McMurphy to be more antagonistic in the film than Nurse Ratched. But she is generally seen as the main antagonist so I’ll include her (cos she’s an awesome character) even if I don’t necessarily agree.

Nurse Ratched: “If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.”

Richard Vernon (The Breakfast Club)

Richard Vernon

Much like the previous Nurse Ratched, here was have a villain who is only considered bad because they are doing their job… except this character is a real asshole and played brilliantly by Paul Gleason. Vernon is the vice principal of Shermer High School, and one Saturday – he holds a detention for five students and tells them to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are.

The Breakfast Club is easily my favourite film from the legendary director John Hughes and I feel a big part of that enjoyment comes from the extremely controlling, devious and egotistic nature of ‘Dick’ Vernon who controls the students with an iron fist and shows no mercy or remorse either.

Richard Vernon: “But someday when you’re outta here and you’ve forgotten all about this place and they’ve forgotten all about you, and you’re wrapped up in your own pathetic life, I’m gonna be there. That’s right. And I’m gonna kick the living shit out of you. I’m gonna knock your dick in the dirt.”

Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Hans Landa

When it comes to Quentin Tarantino bad guys – we are spoilt for choice; Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)… but I’ve gone for the Nazi officer of the SS, Col. Hans Lander and his impressive smoking-pipe. Lander, nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ – a name his is extremely proud of, is ruthless in his investigations and capture (and often killing) of Jews.

Christoph Waltz (rightfully) won an Oscar for his performance as the relentless SS officer and the opening, very tense scene shows just why he fully deserved the award too. Waltz’s multilingual performance is a pure joy to watch and this is one bad guy I love to hate.

Hans Lander: “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none. And that, Monsieur, is what a Jew shares with a rat.”

John Doe (Seven)

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Real name unknown – John Doe is a clever and manipulative character who keeps diaries and notes on his crimes and victims. The film does a great job of keeping him in the shadows and we only learn who he really is in the latter part of the flick – he first ‘real’ entrance in the movie when he walks into the police station covered in blood and calmly saying “detective” over and over as he hands himself in (until he snaps and has to scream) is both twisted and revealing once you know just who’s blood he is covered in and why.

Recent allegations aside – Kevin Spacey is fucking awesome in this flick. He performance is so memorable that you’ll be talking about it for years later… as I am right now. The acting is subtle and calming. This all just adds to the performance and creates one of the best killers ever caught on film.

John Doe: “Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

‘Angel Eyes’ (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Angel Eyes

Some more pipe-smoking action now from Lee Van Cleef playing ‘Angel Eyes’ (real name unknown, though he is named in the original Italian version of the film) in one of the best Westerns ever made. Also known as the titular ‘Bad’ from the film. ‘Angel Eyes’ is a ruthless and cunning killer who is not afraid to pull the trigger on anyone who gets in his way. Still, if shooting people is not enough – he’ll also have the living shit beaten out of you until you are barely alive… as Tuco discovers in the film, while just gleefully watching on.

Van Cleef’s performance of ‘Angel Eyes’ is undeniably cool but also cruel and unforgiving. He barely thinks twice about murder as he shoots his way through people just to find a man called Bill Carson.

‘Angel Eyes’: “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protecting angel. A golden-haired angel watches over him.”

Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

Hans Gruber

Of course I had to include quite possibly THE greatest bad guy in an action film ever. Hans Gruber is cool, calm and collected – he dresses well and is a very reasonable person. But don’t let any of that fool as as he’s also ruthless and thinks nothing of shooting someone in the head at point blank range. He was once part of the Volksfrei West German terrorist group – but was expelled from the group… probably for being too damn bad-ass.

God damn it, I miss Alan Rickman and this is his best role ever. He dulcet, super smooth voice added to the character’s laid back attitude and persona. Check out any ‘top (whatever) bad guys list’ on the interwebs and you’ll find Hans Gruber pretty much always near the top if not at the top. The only reason he’s not at the top here is because I just don’t do ‘top lists’. Rickman’s performance is just memorising and makes Gruber one of those rare villains you can’t help but love and just wish he got away with it at the end.

Hans Gruber: “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.”

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)

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A foul-mouthed drill sergeant who bullies his recruits – especially the struggling Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) played to his shoutiest best by R. Lee Ermey. So strong and memorable was this performance that he has been held up as the template for any drill sergeant in TV and films ever since. He’s racist, obnoxious, uncaring and ruthless – his dialogue has gone down in movie history as being some of the very best from any single film character.

Ermey’s performance is shocking but he also makes it impossible to not ‘enjoy’ the character despite his sheer awfulness. The way he verbally,  physically and mentally abuses his recruits is tremendous but uncomfortable to watch and all comes to a boiling point when he pushes Private Pyle too far.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: “Holy dog shit! Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?”

Don Logan (Sexy Beast)

Don Logan

You remember the movie Gandhi right? The one where (Sir) Ben Kingsley plays the eponymous peace-seeking pacifist and won the best actor Oscar for it too? Well this role is the polar opposite of that and in my opinion just as worthy of an Oscar too. This is Kingsley at his foul-mouthed, frenzied, frightening finest. Logan is a recruiter for the London criminal underworld who turns up in Spain to convince retired expert safe-cracker Gary Dove (Ray Winstone) to take part in a major London bank heist. But it is when Dove turns the offer down that Logan shows his true colours.

I avoided this film at first because I thought it sounded like a crap porn flick. So when I did finally sit down to watch it – going in completely unaware of what it was about, I was blown away by Kingsley’s stunning performance. Not only is Sexy Beast a great ‘London gangster’ flick – it features a brilliant bad guy with Logan and one that’ll stick in my head forever.

Don Logan: “You’re the problem! You’re the fucking problem you fucking Dr White honkin’ jam-rag fucking spunk-bubble! I’m telling you Aitch you keep looking at me I’ll put you in the fucking ground, promise you!”

Norman Bates (Psycho)

Norman Bates

Norman Bates – the man with severe ‘mommy issues’. Probably one of the greatest villains to ever grace the cinema screen. A young, shy and retiring man who’s nervousness hides a deep, dark secret. With Anthony Perkins playing the role in a charming and enduring manner which helps to hide just exactly what is going on in his head. Psycho is one of the greatest films ever made with such iconic imagery, music and of course that ending…

If you’ve ever read the novel Psycho – then you’d know just how different the character of Norman is in the film. In the book, he’s a fat, balding alcoholic. A million miles away from Perkins. But it was director Alfred Hitchcock who wanted to make the change so the audience would sympathise with Norman, and its a change that really works well and helped by the charismatic performance of Perkins himself which makes the ending all the more shocking.

Norman Bates: “It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

Harry Lime (The Third Man)

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Not to be confused with the burglar Harry Lime from Home Alone. This Lime is a criminal who was killed in a car accident… or was he? When one of his close friends claim to have seen Lime alive and well, his grave is opened up only to find that Lime is not the man buried. Which all leads to a cat and mouse chase to track down the criminal.

Lime is effortlessly played by Orson Welles. He is amoral, careless but also wickedly charming and charismatic too. The Third Man is a wonderful flick that is most definitely lifted several levels by Welles’ performance – his infamous wry smirk hides a thousand lies.

Harry Lime: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Vincenzo Coccotti (True Romance)

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Vincenzo Coccotti is a Sicilian consigliere for local Detroit mobster ‘Blue’ Lou Boyle. Only a minor character in the film – but one you won’t forget in a hurry. Coccotti is cold and calculating played beautifully by Christopher Walken. He is hardly in the film and only appears in one scene… but what a great scene it is.

My second Tarantino bad guy on here, but he does create such awesome villains that I could probably do a list just full of them. The aforementioned scene in which Coccotti appears alongside Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) is a tense and wonderfully written scene that has Tarantino’s fingerprints all over it. Walken’s performance is both terrifying and engrossing at the same time.

Vincent Coccotti: “I’m the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti.”

Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)

Amon Goeth

This guy is one psychopathic, sadistic, brutal, abusive and emotionless Nazi. He’ll sit on his balcony and shoot Jews for no reason other than they are Jews and he is bored. He also beat the shit of his maid because she turned down his advances. And these instances are some of his more tame crimes. At the end of the film, Goeth is executed by hanging, but not before calmly patting his hair into place and uttering “Heil Hitler” – showing his total lack of remorse perfectly clear.

Played by Ralph Fiennes to chilling effect, this performance is one of the most disturbing and difficult to watch in film. Some bad guys have a redeeming quality, if not more than one. Goeth has nothing redeeming about him, he’s just pure fucking evil personified. One of the most disgustingly, despicable movie villains ever.

Amon Goeth: “Today is history and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came with nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumour. They never happened. Today is history.”


Well there you have it, a selection of some of my favourite on screen villains… and all of them far more impressive and memorable than Steppenwolf. To be honest, there were a tonne I left off this list with plenty more antagonists I enjoy just as much if not more. But I had to pick and choose to keep this list at a reasonable length – still, I could always do another list in the future or even feature some of my other favourites in much more detailed articles…

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.

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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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