|Directed by||John McTiernan|
|Produced by||Lawrence Gordon
Steven E. de Souza
|Music by||Michael Kamen
Chris Boardman (uncredited)
|Cinematography||Jan de Bont|
|Editing by||John F. Link
Frank J. Urioste
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||July 15, 1988|
|Running time||131 minutes|
|Followed by||Die Hard 2|
The movie is set on Christmas Eve at the Nakatomi building in Los Angeles, California. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is flying in from New York to meet his wife Holly during the Nakatomi’s annual Christmas party. While there, they get into an argument over Holly's choice to use her maiden name instead of her married name. Shortly afterwards, a group of German terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) invade the building and take all the people hostages. They want the bearer bonds in the building ' s vault and ask the CEO, Joseph Takgai, for the access code to the first barrier. When he says no, Gruber shoots and kills him.
McClane witnesses Gruber killing Takagi and tries to get help. He pulls a fire alarm, but the terrorists find out and reverse the alarm. Gruber then sends a man named Tony to find whoever pulled the alarm. In the ensuring battle, McClane snaps Tony's neck and takes his machine gun. He then puts the dead man in an elevator and pushes buttons so that it stops on the floor where the partygoers are being held. Upon finding Tony, Gruber sends more men to find him. After killing two more of Gruber's men, McClane finds and takes some detonators.
On the rooftop, McClane radios for help. The dispatchers send a patrol car in. Just as the police officer is about to leave, McClane drops the body of a dead terrorist on his patrol car. The LAPD arrive. They send in a tank and four SWAT team members, but Gruber's men beat back both attacks. When Gruber ignores McClane's request to stop attacking, McClane takes some C4 explosives and blows up part of the building.
Holly's co-worker Harry then tries to talk to the terrorists. He tries to get McClane to give up the detonators, but when he refuses, Gruber shoots and kills Harry. Shortly afterwards, McClane finds Gruber, who was trying to check the explosives. Gruber fakes an American accent, throwing McClane off. As they talk, Gruber's men show up and shoot out the glass. McClane injures his feet severely as he tries to walk across the floor and loses the detonators in the process.
The FBI arrives and orders the building's power to be cut. Gruber informs the FBI that he wants two helicopters and he will escort the hostages to the top of the building. The power outage opens up the final locks on the building's vault, where Gruber scoops up the bonds. The FBI plans to send gunships to kill the terrorists, but Gruber had lined the top of the building with explosives and plans to blow it up to cover his escape.
A reporter named Richard Thornberg manages to interview McClane's children. Gruber, seeing this on TV, realizes that Holly is McClane's wife and takes her hostage. McClane finds the explosives and realizes what Gruber is up to. However, Gruber's man Karl finds him and they engage in a vicious hand-to-hand combat. McClane leaves Karl for dead and rushes up to the top of the building. He and forces the hostages to go back down into the building. The FBI fires at him. Gruber blows up the top of the building. McClane ties a fire hose around his waist and jumps off the building.
McClane finally meets Gruber one last time. He tricks him by throwing his gun down and then using another gun to shoot Gruber. Gruber falls out of the building, nearly taking Holly with him. McClane unties her watch and Gruber falls to his death. Afterwards, they go home in a limo.