5 Phenomenal Things About “Die Hard”

movie_theatre - Phenom 5

It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years since the release of the now classic action movie “Die Hard”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the film during the years following its release. It uniquely captured the popular 80s action feel of the time while also paving some wonderful new ground in the genre. It also gave us some signature moments that I’m sure all of us remember. So to honor an action classic I’m looking at five phenomenal things about “Die Hard”. Now obviously with a movie this good and with such history it’s impossible to call this the definitive list. But no one will doubt that these five things about “Die Hard” are certainly phenomenal.


It may seem like an odd inclusion, but I love Deputy Chief of Police Dwayne T. Robinson. This pompous, cocky, and often times incompetent officer was in charge of the scene at Nakatomi Plaza, at least until the “FBI guys” arrive. He was wonderfully played by the late Paul Gleason who in many ways was recapturing his role as Principal Vernon from “The Breakfast Club”. He gives us several hilarious lines and watching his stupidity being exposed by both the terrorists and John McClane is simply priceless.


“Die Hard” is a film with one spectacular action sequence after another. Director John McTiernan is no stranger to action flicks and he has always known how to film a pulse-pounding scene. Such is the case with the great moment when John McClane jumps off the top of Nakatomi Plaza. With terrorists seconds away from blowing the roof and an FBI chopper mistaking him as a bad guy, McClane finds himself in a real pickle. Explosions, a falling chopper engulfed in flames, and a free jump with nothing but a fire hose to keep him from falling to his death all make up the amazing scene that follows. I love it!


Die Hard

“Die Hard” is the film that catapulted Willis into super stardom an launched his career as a bonafide action movie star. In the 1980s that was a big deal. The genre was in its heyday and breaking into that scene wasn’t that easy. There were musclebound guys like Schwarzenegger and Stallone along with martial arts stars like Norris, Van Damme, and Seagal. But in “Die Hard” Bruce Willis showed us a more grounded action hero. Sure some of his stunts were spectacular, but he was just a regular guy. This is something that was symbolized in most of Willis’ action roles that followed. And it all started with John McClane.



Throughout the years we’ve seen a number of terrorists on the big screen. Most are your cookie-cutter variety bad guys with similar motives and characteristics. I think that’s why Hans Gruber stands so far apart from the crowd. He’s suave, sophisticated, and he certainly doesn’t share the same motives as the others we’ve seen over and over again. But the biggest reason he works so well is Alan Rickman. Talk about a great performance. Rickman is mesmerizing as the highly intelligent terrorist ringleader who always seams one step ahead of everyone else. And that cool charisma he brings to the character is simply impossible to miss.



There are so many wonderful things that contribute to “Die Hard” being such a fabulous action movie. But for me, I always come back to the concept itself. The entire terrorist takeover of a skyscraper idea has always stood out to me. Then throw in one lone “fly in the ointment” moving and battling from floor to floor and you have the concept for a truly remarkable film. And to prove the concept was genius, there have been tons of knockoffs throughout the years. Of course the concept ultimately proved to be strong by the finished result. “Die Hard” has gone on to become one of the most well known and well received action movies of the 1980s. And it’s a movie that will undoubtably be held in high regard for years to come.

So there are my 5 Phenomenal Things About “Die Hard”. I know you’ve seen the film. What do you agree or disagree with? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your favorite things about this great action picture.

40 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Things About “Die Hard”

  1. One of my absolute all-time favourites which I watch every Christmas (sometimes even on Christmas Eve for full effect!).

    Great list Keith, it must have been tough picking just five phenomenal reasons when I’d personally struggle not to do ten or twenty! But good choices that broadly cover the film’s overall appeal. Only thing missing really was any mention of “Powell, Sgt. Al Powell!”.

    Shame about Paul Gleason, I didn’t know he was actually no longer with us!

    • Thanks! Yep, Gleason died back in 2006 from a form of lung cancer. He is so memorable in Die Hard.

      And you’re right, it was extremely hard to narrow it down to five. Al Powell is a worthy mention. I also hated to leave off the sniveling Dick Thornberg, the barefoot meets glass scene, the first radio conversation between John and Hans, etc. etc. etc. It goes on and on.

  2. It’s a great concept that’s spurred on sooo many imitations! But yeah, the first three were awesome, wish they stopped while they’re ahead. Glad you mentioned Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman rules!) and obviously Bruce is a legitimate action star (before he gets lazy!) 🙂

    • You’re right. Soooo many imitations. I mean since then we’ve seen Die Hard on a plane, battleship, boy’s school, the White House, a hockey arena, and on and on and on…. Some have been fun. But many others … Not so much!

  3. Excellent work, sir! The “jump from the top” is definitely THE iconic shot of Die Hard.

    To add a bit to #3 “Bruce Willis: Action Star,” it was a big stretch to cast him in the lead not only because of the guys you mentioned (Sly, Arnie, etc.) but because he was known as a TV guy, in a comedy no less (Moonlighting), at a time when making the jump from one medium to the other didn’t work out too well for most who tried it. So many flops from the 70s and 80s starred people who headlined hit TV shows and were taking their shot at being a movie star. Sad that as the series has gone on, McClane has become a less grounded hero and less of a regular guy. He’s now exactly what those others were, maybe worse.

    Anyhoo, if I’d add anything it would be the simple fact that he spent most of the movie barefoot and the iconic line that has become part of pop-culture history: Yippee-ki-yay mother…

  4. The quarterback is toast.
    On a beach earning 20%
    Yippee Kai A
    Guess we’re gonna need some more FBI guys
    well, well Hans, pretty tricky with that accent

    And a hundred more

    • *Smile Karl, we’re back in business.
      *The police have themselves an RV
      *He could be a ___ bartender
      *Hans, booby, I’m your white knight

      Yep. Sooo many great lines!

  5. Awesome list! This is such a fun movie and I’m a huge Alan Rickman’s fan so I adore it even more – he really created an unforgettable villain here all because of his sophistication and charisma.

  6. I can’t think of many action films that can top it. Maybe some John Woo stuff, but they’re different types of action film really. I think I remember seeing something on telly where they said the bit where Willis jumps off the building with the hosepipe around his waist would have actually resulted in him getting ripped in half at the bottom of the fall, with his legs going one way and his torso the other way! I’m glad movies don’t always follow the laws of physics! 😀

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