Bruce Willis stars as New York City Detective John McClane, newly arrived in Los Angeles to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia). As Mclane waits for his wife's office party to break up, terrorists take control of the building. While the terrorist leader, Hans Gruber (Alexander Godunov) round up hostages, McClane slips away unnoticed. Armed with only a service revolver and his cunning, McClane launches his own one-man war. A crackling thriller from beginning to end, Die Hard explodes with heart-stopping suspense.
This seminal 1988 thriller made Bruce Willis a star and established a new template for action stories: "Terrorists take over a (blank), and a lone hero, unknown to the villains, is trapped with them." In Die Hard
, those bad guys, led by the velvet-voiced Alan Rickman, assume control of a Los Angeles high-rise with Willis's visiting New York cop inside. The attraction of the film has as much to do with the sight of a barefoot mortal running around the guts of a modern office tower as it has to do with the plentiful fight sequences and the bond the hero establishes with an LA beat cop. Bonnie Bedelia plays Willis's wife, Hart Bochner is good as a brash hostage who tries negotiating his way to freedom, Alexander Godunov makes for a believable killer with lethal feet, and William Atherton is slimy as a busybody reporter. Exceptionally well directed by John McTiernan. --Tom Keogh