Film Review – Die Hard (1988) 4K HD Version

A new 4K edition of Die Hard has landed on shop shelves and online stores with the force of a terrorist’s corpse hitting the pavement from a height of 25 stories. Seeing as we’re still over six months away from Christmas, this all feels slightly odd, as the first of Bruce Willis’ career-defining movies is without doubt the quintessential Yuletide romp. A cursory glance at Google tells me, however, that Die Hard, in a move that seems retrospectively bananas, was actually released in July; so it’s time to re-evaluate everything you ever thought you knew about the universe.

It’s actually thirty years since the original movie was released, so what better excuse could you have for re-visiting the first and best of the (currently) five-movie saga? As a nation of emotionally repressed alcoholics who like nothing more than a spurious reason to celebrate (it’s the opening night of Crufts, crack open the prosecco) what better reason, tenuous or otherwise, to give this action classic another watch?

Thirty years after it was made and some twenty-odd after I first saw it, I’m struck by how substantial and dynamic the action scenes remain, particularly as the movie reaches its crescendo. In the screening in which I saw this 4K version, the seats actually shook during some of the more turbulent moments.

The key to much of Die Hard’s charm, however, remains the interactions of an oral, rather than ballistic, nature and the movie has lost none of its charisma or badinage. Willis’ exasperated John Mclane holed-up at Nakatomi Plaza using his radio as a lifeline – clashing with the policewoman at the dispatch centre:” no fucking shit, lady, does it sound like I’m ordering a pizza?” and tenderly connecting with wrong-place, wrong-time desk-jockey cop Al Powell still strikes a chord.

Continuing to steal the show even in death, is Alan Rickman as the classically educated and sartorially astute John Phillips-wearing terrorist mastermind Hans Gruber. There’s an extra, melancholy dimension to the performance now that Rickman has passed away that actually adds a frisson of extra enjoyment to an all-time great performance.

A handsome re-release for a movie that continues to thrill. If you’ve seen it, and you probably have, a 4K upgrade is a fine excuse to give it another go. If you’re unfamiliar with this, then dive in and enjoy. Happy trails.

Chris Banks |

Action, Thriller | USA, 1988 | 18 | Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment | Dir. John McTiernan | Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, Hart Bochner

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