Die Hard tour

(We recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. /Film has explored the film from every angle with a whole series of articles. To conclude our coverage, we took a special tour of the film’s locations and attended a spectacular screening on the Fox lot.)

By now, everyone knows that the filmmakers behind Die Hard utilized 20th Century Fox’s Fox Plaza, a real skyscraper in Los Angeles’s Century City, to stand in for the movie’s famous Nakatomi Plaza. The building is still being used by Fox today, and typically, film journalists aren’t allowed to go inside and explore it. But this past weekend, we were among a small group of journalists invited to take a Die Hard tour showing off a ton of the locations used during the making of the movie.

To top it all off, Fox organized a 30th anniversary screening of the film on the studio lot, with the building itself towering over the audience. Check out our video and photos below.
Read More »

Die Hard for the First Time

(This week marks the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. To celebrate, /Film is exploring the film from every angle with a series of articles. Today: someone who has managed to not see this classic checks it out for the first time with a fresh perspective.)

This year is the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, an action classic starring Bruce Willis as John McClane and Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. It’s part of the fabric of American pop culture. References to Die Hard still show up in movies and television shows to this day and Willis’ turn as McClane has been endlessly modified and copied over the years. It seems everyone has seen Die Hard. Everyone but me.

Despite being very much alive in 1988, I grew up in an extremely sheltered environment. By the time I’d even heard of Die Hard, it would’ve been the late 1990s. Never one to look back, I focused on present-day pop culture. Nothing against the film, I just never got around to it. Until now. Will Die Hard hold up to the scrutiny of 2018 storytelling? Will it be too much a product of its time to be enjoyable? Without nostalgia-goggles, will I even see what the big deal is? There was only one way to find out.

Read More »

Die Hard influences

(This week marks the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. To celebrate, /Film is exploring the film from every angle with a series of articles. Today: we spoke with ten modern filmmakers about why the movie still holds up, how it influenced their work, and more.)

The first shot in Die Hard is a plane landing on a runway. But the second shot does something relatively atypical for the testosterone-fueled action movies of the 1980s: it established a weakness in its protagonist. New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is afraid of flying, and the first thing we see of him is his hand tightly gripping his armrest. His seat neighbor gives him an odd remedy for stress relief, and when McClane eventually gives it a try during a Christmas party at L.A.’s Nakatomi Plaza, a hostile takeover leaves him barefoot at the worst possible moment.

But that weakness gives the character some much-needed humanity, a far cry from the muscle-bound lugs embodied by actors like Schwarzenegger and Stallone at the time. That humanity and relatability is a huge part of the reason the film remains a stone cold classic three decades after its release. In the latest entry in our series of articles looking back on Die Hard, /Film spoke with a handful of modern Hollywood directors and writers about the impact the film had on them, how it influenced their work, why the movie has stood the test of time, and more. Read More »

the book that inspired die hard

(This week marks the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. To celebrate, /Film is exploring the film from every angle with a series of articles. Today: a look back at the 1979 novel that inspired the film.)

There are few movies that bring me pure, unadulterated joy the way John McTiernan’s Die Hard brings me joy. Recently, I flew from New York to Los Angeles for the first time and as I looked around the Los Angeles airport, I couldn’t help but shake my head and say “California” with pure disdain. In truth, I have no beef with the state, but I had just traveled the same route that John McClane took nearly 30 years earlier and I wasn’t going to miss my opportunity of recreation.

In fact, the purpose of this trip was to celebrate my birthday with a Die Hard drinking game party. I visited Fox Plaza (the real Nakatomi Plaza), soaked in the lobby (which looks similar despite the Peet’s Coffee), and stole a rock from the courtyard as a souvenir (don’t report me).

After 30 years, Die Hard remains the best and most quintessential action film of all time. If you hold this movie close to your heart, well, welcome to the party, pal. But the film began its life as something very different: a 1979 thriller novel called Nothing Lasts Forever.

Read More »

Die Hard interviews

(This week marks the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. To celebrate, /Film is exploring the film from every angle with a series of articles. Today: the cast and crew look back on the making of an action classic.)

John McTiernan‘s 1988 action tour de force is one of my favorite movies ever made. It’s a masterclass on every level: building entertaining characters, crafting escalating action, establishing and navigating geography, and putting an empathetic hero through the ringer in the face of extraordinary odds. McTiernan and his collaborators made this all look easy, but as the rash of Hollywood imitators that followed quickly proved, it was anything but.

Die Hard turns 30 years old this weekend, and to celebrate, I spoke with cinematographer Jan de Bont, writer Steven E. de Souza, and actor Reginald VelJohnson (who played Sergeant Al Powell) about why the film still holds up, how some of its most memorable scenes came together, and much more.  Read More »

The 9 Best and Worst ‘Die Hard’ Knock-Offs

die hard

(This week marks the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. To celebrate, /Film is exploring the film from every angle with a series of articles. Today: examining the film’s legacy through the numerous rip-offs and knock-offs it inspired in the ’90s.)

If you’ve ever seen the Honest Trailer for Die Hard, then you may recall the lightning round of references at the end riffing on how it was “the original masterpiece that inspired countless knockoffs.” Director John McTiernan’s 1988 film redefined Bruce Willis as an action star and gave rise to a pervasive action-movie formula in which the proverbial one man *epic movie trailer voice* is trapped in a single setting with a bunch of bad guys.

Owing to this, the movie’s title has become a metonym used to refer to other flicks with similar plots. “Die Hard on a plane, Die Hard on a train,” etc. If you grew up during the heyday of ‘90s action movies like I did, then it’s possible you may have been snapping open Blockbuster Video cases to watch some of these flicks at home in your living room before you ever even saw Die Hard or realized that it had influenced them.

As we celebrate its 30th anniversary here on /Film, let’s take a look back at nine key instances from the ‘90s where Hollywood movies recapitulated the Die Hard formula and in some cases launched or reinvented the careers of other notable action movie stars and franchises. Viewed with an appreciation for genre history, these nine derivative actioners (coupled with some honorable mentions from the ’90s and beyond) still hold rewatch value, while illuminating special aspects of Die Hard and showing how it was the gift that kept on giving.

Spoilers for all of these movies lie ahead.

Read More »