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The Die Hard series' is a tetralogy of action films beginning with Die Hard in 1988. All four films are centered around the character of John McClane (portrayed by Bruce Willis), a New York City detective who finds himself fighting a group of terrorists in each episode. There are also several video games based on the films, as well as a comic book series released in August of 2009.

Plot summary

Die Hard

The first film begins on Christmas Eve when McClane traveling to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), who is living in LA with their two children and using her maiden name. They attend a party at the fictional Nakatomi Plazamarker. During the evening, East Germanmarker terrorists break into the building and take the party goers hostage. McClane escapes detection and manages to hide throughout the building, killing the terrorists one by one. In the course of events, the terrorists take Holly hostage to persuade McClane to surrender - which he does not do. When McClane meets the terrorist's leader, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) a climactic battle ensues and McClane throws Gruber out the window.

Die Hard 2

The second film takes place one year after the events of the first film, once again on Christmas Eve. The setting for the film is Washington D.C. McClane is at Dulles Airportmarker awaiting the arrival of his wife. While waiting, a group of mercenaries planning to rescue a drug lord have taken over the airport's control tower, stranding several planes in the air, including the one McClane's wife is on, and leading one of the planes to crash in the dark, killing all on board. McClane discovers a conspiracy between the mercenaries and an active military unit. He foils their plans and provides a visual landing signal for the circling aircraft by exploding the plane the villains were using for their exit strategy.

Die Hard With a Vengeance

In the third film, set eight years later from the first film, McClane is back in New York. He is now separated from his wife, suspended from the police force, and a borderline alcoholic. A terrorist who goes only by the name "Simon" (Jeremy Irons) threatens to blow up various locations in the city unless McClane will play his twisted version of Simon says. McClane must solve a number of riddles and challenges in order to keep the bombs from going off. He receives the reluctant help of Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), a shopkeeper from Harlem who had saved McClane after the first challenge "Simon" had put him through. The FBI finally reveal that "Simon" is in fact Simon Peter Gruber, the brother of Hans Gruber, who is attempting to kill McClane in revenge for his brother's death in the first film.

Live Free or Die Hard - (Die Hard 4.0)

Set nineteen years after the timeframe of the first film, the fourth film begins with McClane still divorced from Holly and estranged from his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). A group of cyber-terrorists begin hacking into computers of the FBI, who send McClane to bring in hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to defend against the cyber-attack. In the process, a group of assassins hired by Gabriel, the terrorist mastermind, (Timothy Olyphant) attempts to kill the pair. Farrell tells McClane that the terrorists are actually in the middle of performing a crippling cyber-warfare attack on the infrastructure of the country, disrupting all power, public utilities, traffic, and other computer-controlled systems. Lucy is captured by the terrorists. In the end, McClane saves her and foils their scheme. The film was titled Die Hard 4.0 outside of North America.


Die Hard is adapted from the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp. Nothing Lasts Forever is a sequel to the novel The Detective which was also adapted into a film starring Frank Sinatra. Both novels are about a private detective named Joe Leland. Die Hard 2 was adapted from the 1987 novel 58 Minutes, by Walter Wager. Die Hard With A Vengeance was adapted from a script called Simon Says and Live Free or Die Hard was based on the 1997 article "A Farewell to Arms" written for Wired magazine by John Carlin.


Box office

Film Release date Budget Box office revenue Reference
Worldwide United States United States Outside US Worldwide
Die Hard 15 July, 1988 $30,000,000 $83,008,852 $55,700,000 $138,708,852
Die Hard 2: Die Harder 4 July, 1990 $70,000,000 $117,540,947 $122,000,000 $239,540,947
Die Hard with a Vengeance 19 May, 1995 $90,000,000 $100,012,499 $261,200,000 $361,212,499
Live Free or Die Hard 27 June, 2007 $110,000,000 $134,529,403 $248,747,776 $383,277,179
Total $300,000,000 $435,091,701 $687,647,776 $1,122,739,477

Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic (DVD) Yahoo! Movies
Overall Cream of the Crop
Die Hard 96% (49 reviews) 81% (7 reviews) 78% (13 reviews) B+ (7 reviews)
Die Hard 2: Die Harder 62% (42 reviews) 51% (6 reviews) B- (6 reviews)
Die Hard with a Vengeance 45% (43 reviews) 61% (9 reviews) 58% (19 reviews)
Live Free or Die Hard 81% (194 reviews) 77% (35 reviews) 69% (34 reviews) B (13 reviews)

The entire Die Hard series has received generally mixed to positive reviews. The original Die Hard has received substantial praise. Pete Croatto of called the film "a perfect action movie in every detail, the kind of movie that makes your summer memorable." James Berardinelli wrote that the film "represents the class of modern action pictures and the standard by which they must be judged." The cast and crew also received much praise, as well. Critic Desson Howe wrote that "Willis has found the perfect vehicle to careen wildly onto the crowded L.A. freeway of Lethal Weapons and Beverly Hills Cops." Willis was also called "perfect as the wisecracking John McClane" and "an excellent casting choice as a sardonic action hero." Alan Rickman's portrayal of villain Hans Gruber was described as "marvelous" and "a career-making performance."In 2007, Entertainment Weekly ranked Die Hard the greatest action film of all time.

The first sequel, Die Hard 2, received generally mixed reviews. Despite only giving the original film only two stars, critic Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars and called it "terrific entertainment." On the other hand, Peter Travers wrote that "owever impressively made, Die Hard 2 begins to wear thin."

The most recent entry in the series, Live Free or Die Hard, has praised as being as good as the original. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that the film "is the best in the series, an invigorating return to the style of blockbuster that dominated summers back in the early 1990s."

Other media

Video games

A series of video games based on the films have been released.


In May, 2009, BOOM! Studios announced that they would be releasing a Die Hard comic that would serve as a prequel to the first movie. Die Hard: Year One will be released in August 2009, its story is set in 1976 and follows John McClaine as a rookie cop in the NYPD. It will be scripted by Howard Chaykin.

The official description read:



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