Exceptionally well-directed by John McTiernan, Die Hard
made Bruce Willis a star back in 1988 and established a new template for action stories. Here the 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 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.
Director Renny Harlin took the reins for the 1990 sequel, Die Harder, which places Willis's New York City cop in harm's way again with a gaggle of terrorists. This time, Willis awaits his wife's arrival at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC when he gets wind of a plot to blow up the facility. Noisy, overbearing and forgettable, the film has none of the purity of its predecessor's simple story; and it makes a huge miscalculation in allowing a terrible tragedy to occur rather than stretch out the tension. Where Die Hard set new precedents in action movies, Die Hard 2 is just an anything-goes spectacle --Tom Keogh
The second sequel, Die Hard with a Vengeance brings Detective John McClane to New York City to face a better villain than in Die Hard 2. Jeremy Irons is the brother of Alan Rickman's Germanic terrorist-thief from the original film. But this bad guy has his sights set higher: on the Federal Reserve's cache of gold. As a distraction, he sets McClane running fool's errands all over New York--and eventually, McClane attracts an unintentional partner, a Harlem dry cleaner (Samuel L Jackson) with a chip on his shoulder. Some great action sequences can't obscure the rather large plot holes in the film's final 45 minutes. --Marshall Fine
Triple bill of blockbuster action films starring Bruce Willis as resourceful, vest-wearing New York cop John McClane. In 'Die Hard' (1988), it's Christmas Eve and McClane is visiting his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) in Los Angeles, where she works. They are attending a party at Holly's high-rise office block when terrorists, led by the suave Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) break in, taking everyone hostage. McClane manages to evade capture, however, and sets out to rescue his wife and the other prisoners. It is not long before he is running barefoot over shattered glass (ouch!) in a sweaty vest, muttering 'Yippy kay aye' as he dispatches the baddies with bullets and a certain earthy wit. In the sequel, 'Die Harder' (1990), set a year on from the evnts of the first film, McClane is set to meet up with wife Holly on Christmas Eve, this time at Dulles airport in Washington DC. However, when terrorists take over the airport in an attempt to rescue dictator Esperanza (Franco Nero) from his incoming flight, it is up to McClane to restore order and ensure that Holly's plane lands safely. In the third and final film in the trilogy, 'Die Hard With a Vengeance' (1995), McClane becomes involved in a twisted game of Simon Says when an evil terrorist (Jeremy Irons) sends him dashing all over the city in an effort to find a series of explosive devices. Teaming up with electrician Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), McClane soon discovers that the bombs are an elaborate ruse intended to provide cover for a billion dollar bank job.