Die Hard



Original Bruce Willis violent actioner.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: November 29, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 132 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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.

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.

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?


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. 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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 15, 1988
DVD release date:March 9, 1999
Cast:Alan Rickman, Bruce Willis, Reginald VelJohnson
Director:John McTiernan
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:132 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence and pervasive strong language

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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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 the elevater shaft a girl in a swim suit is shown (in a photo very hard to see)
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old April 8, 2010


This movie is as awesome as it was in 88', and i still love it (I have only seen it once but sticks in my mind). Could of done without the exscessive language.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
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 other families should know
Too much violence


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