Only 12 years pass between the third and fourth chapters of the “Die Hard” series, but the difference between the 20th and 21st centuries is striking. In “Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995), the bad guys steal gold, and in “Live Free or Die Hard” (2007), they steal money digitally. I don’t know how well the details hold up to expert scrutiny, but screenwriter Mark Bomback – who went on to write the last two “Planet of the Apes” films – effectively taps into the unease we feel in knowing that our money is represented by numbers on a computer screen as opposed to old-school bars of gold.
Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995) makes it three-for-three in the John McClane action franchise. We get what we come for: McClane (Bruce Willis) gets dirtied and bloodied, a Gruber brother terrorizes him, he’s out the outs with his wife, and John McTiernan is back from the first film in the director’s chair. And yet this isn’t a straight repeat: Lone wolf McClane’s team-up with Samuel L. Jackson’s Zeus Carver is refreshing, we’re in the heat of summer rather than a snowy Christmas, and for the first time we’re in McClane’s actual jurisdiction in New York City.
Die Hard” (1988) is required Christmas season viewing for many, but “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” (1990) should not be overlooked. Although both are rightly revered as classics, I personally like the sequel more, and it certainly leans harder into its holiday trappings. This one takes place in Washington, D.C., in a snowstorm, and the terrorists set up camp in a church that’s being shut down to make way for runway expansion.
Is “Die Hard” (1988) a Christmas movie? According to a new poll from Public Policy Polling, it is not. Sixty-two percent say it’s not a Christmas movie, 13 percent say it is, and the rest are undecided. The debate is more balanced (and heated) – perhaps with an edge toward those saying it is a Christmas movie – on sites that are likely to draw cinephiles, such as “Die Hard’s” IMBD page or the comment threads below this Entertainment Weekly article.