A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: July 15, 1988
- On DVD or streaming: March 9, 1999
- Cast: Alan Rickman, Bruce Willis, Reginald VelJohnson
- Director: John McTiernan
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and pervasive strong language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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