Break out your blood-smeared undershirt and go crawl around in an air duct: this month marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Die Hard, John McTiernan’s seminal action movie that made Bruce Willis a star, Alan Rickman a go-to villain, and the simple formula of a lone hero, a contained location, and a brilliant supervillian into one of Hollywood’s most durable. And though Fox paid its own dubious tribute to the franchise with its most recent sequel, the true testament to the film’s influence is the sheer volume of Die Hard imitators unleashed in the quarter-century since its release.
Film: Die Hard 2: Die Harder
“It’s like Die Hard in an…”: Airport
The first Die Hard knockoff of note was the official one. Renny Harlin’s sequel, released two years after the original, was based on unrelated source material (Walter Wager’s novel 58 Minutes), but the hallmarks were all in place: Bruce Willis’s John McClane single-handedly foiling a yuletide terrorist plot that’s put his wife in jeopardy, this time at Dulles International Airport. The subsequent sequels abandoned the bottled locations of the first two films, and to their detriment; this remains the second-best of the series.