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Die Hard

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Die Hard Movie Poster Image
Original Bruce Willis violent actioner.
  • R
  • 1988
  • 132 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 101 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Very clear distinction between "good" and "bad," though extreme violence is used by both.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The German terrorists are clearly marked as the bad guys, but the film does not really interrogate the type of violence used by the film's hero. His role as savior for the innocent rationalizes his killings in the world of the film.


Multiple onscreen killings, graphic execution, some graphic gunfights.


Brief female nudity, randy partygoers, and a repeated image of girlie pictures hanging in the building.


Strong language throughout.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cocaine use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Die Hard is packed with extreme acts of violence perpetrated by both the "bad" guys and the hero. The film includes a bloody execution, many onscreen killings, and the holding of many innocent hostages. There is some female nudity, but it does include a moderate amount of strong language.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 year old Written byTsion June 15, 2011

Killer Action...But Adults Only!

DIE HARD is described by some as the most entertaining action movie ever made. Though I would be hesitant to heap that much praise on it, I do heartily recomme... Continue reading
Adult Written byJohnrambo May 16, 2015

Die hard review

The violence is not that bad bloody feet blood flys in the air they kill one hostage for not getting the money the language is bad it saids the f bomb 67 times... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 30, 2010

one of my faveorite movies

a lot of swearing but it is hard to here over gun fire so that is not really a problem John is risking his life to save countless lives.when john runs through t... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 1, 2009
Great suspensful action flick for adult moviegoers. Language is way way explicit eg. Yippee Ki Yay Mother F-cker. Older Kids should be able to handle it.

What's the story?

New York police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) hoped to spend a little Christmas celebration with his estranged wife and children in Los Angeles. What he got instead was a bone-crunching, foot-cutting, guns-blaring battle to the death with a band of German terrorists. Set to raid highly secure vaults with a high-tech/high-powered ambush, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his posse hijack his wife's company Christmas party. Despite the "help" of the LAPD and FBI, McClane must scrap his way through the melee, free the hostages, and in the process repair his troubled marriage.

Is it any good?

Although the film is quite entertaining, some might find the stereotypes dated and offensive. The cold war film takes full advantage of German stereotypes with its gigantic creepy Aryan villains.

After the mega-hit-success of this film, Bruce Willis, known mainly at this point for his work on television's Moonlighting, was reborn as a bona fide action star. Some excellent supporting actors deserve kudos along with Willis and the film's special effects. Rickman's (Galaxy Quest, Harry Potter) slick evil portrayal of Hans is on the mark, and Reginald VelJohnson (Papa Winslow from television's Family Matters) gives an excellent performance as the only LAPD officer helpful to McLane. Viewers may also recognize traditional baddies Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) as the less than helpful Deputy Chief and William Atherton (Ghostbusters, Real Genius) as an opportunist news reporter.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotyping and vigilante justice. Are John's actions, blowing things up, killing, etc. warranted by the situation? Should he have taken alternate legal measures to deal with the situation?

  • The film uses a number of stereotypes in the development of its villains. What characteristics unite individuals such as Hans and Karl? Are such generalizations problematic? How do films today approach this subject?

  • All of the film's active characters, John, Al, Hans and his henchmen are men. Can you think of more recent action films that feature women as main characters?

Movie details

For kids who love action

Our editors recommend

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