Since its release in 1988, 'Die Hard' has become one of the most iconic movies of all time. Blending tongue-in-cheek humor with gung-ho action, the John McTiernan-directed actioner launched Bruce Willis to stardom and generated a whole bunch of sequels.
But the film has a lot of festive cheer thrown into the mix, too. And with Christmas just weeks away, let's get into what has become an annual holiday tradition in its own right, and perhaps the most well-known debate in pop culture!
So here are 10 reasons why 'Die Hard' is a Christmas movie!
10. It's Set at Christmas
The fact that the filmmakers chose to set 'Die Hard' at the most wonderful time of the year is no coincidence. While we get that this isn't something that should necessarily qualify 'Die Hard' as a Christmas movie, when thrown in with all the other reasons we've listed, it does make sense.
Nevertheless, the film is indeed set at Christmas - on Christmas Eve, to be precise. NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his aptly-named wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and their two children, so that he can spend time with them over the holidays. Still not convinced? Read on!
9. There's an Office Christmas Party
Did we mention that John's wife Holly is actually having an office Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza, a lavish Los Angeles high-rise? While it is a little weird to be having a work-bash on Christmas Eve of all nights, it does add that extra jingle flair - at least until armed terrorists walk in.
We think you'll agree that any movie that includes an office Christmas party is probably a Christmas movie (unless of course, it happens to be a movie that tells its story over a long period of time). And 'Die Hard' doesn't just include such a party - it's technically the main event!
8. It's Filled With Christmas Music
From start to finish, 'Die Hard' has quite a bit of Christmas music, and even ends with Dean Martin's "Let it Snow". Throughout the movie, you'll hear other classics, too, such as "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland." Even the film's score is given plenty of festive décor.
The movie also has its own Christmas track - "Christmas in Hollis" by Run-DMC, which has become a Christmas classic in itself, largely because it features in the film (and because it's a Christmas song anyway - unless that's a separate debate?!).
7. It Has a Grumpy Main Character
Owing thanks to Charles' Dickens 1864 literary masterpiece 'A Christmas Carol', there are now countless Christmas movies whose main character is often grumpy, cynical, abrasive, disheartened, or some or all of the above. Even Dr. Seuss' 'The Grinch' isn't as original as you might think!
While John McClane can hardly be compared to the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch or any other merry-less miser, he's still a pretty cynical character and oftentimes miserable. But with that said, he is forced to fly out of state to visit his estranged wife at her office Christmas party!
6. The Weather Outside is Frightful
While it doesn't actually snow in 'Die Hard', a certain song about those little white frostings does help the movie's case. Of course, any movie can feature snow, but that doesn't make it a Christmas movie. Would you watch 'The Day After Tomorrow' on Christmas Eve? Didn't think so!
But as we mentioned before, it's something that, when thrown in with other pieces of evidence, makes an even stronger case for the movie. Dean Martin's Christmas classic "Let it Snow" means that even the movie is aware that the weather outside has the potential to be frightful!
5. It Has a Ton of Christmas References
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Now I have a machine gun!" is just one of many Christmas-related references throughout 'Die Hard'. And we're not just talking about lines, either, like Hans Gruber (the late Alan Rickman) and his henchmen making such references about the vault they're trying to open.
From snow to songs, Christmas trees to endless talk of the holiday season (and a wife named Holly), 'Die Hard' is loaded with references to Christmas. And it's fair to say that all of this leads to the fact that 'Die Hard' really is a Christmas movie.
4. Most People Agree That it is
Many people around the world already believe that 'Die Hard' is a Christmas movie - and we think that even more are being convinced as the years go by. However, there will always be a pretty big debate around this, which only adds to just how fun the movie is.
But the reason many people are coming round to the idea that 'Die Hard' is a Christmas movie is because of the more solid facts. In fact, we've saved the strongest for the top of our list! So without further ado, here's our top three - and we don't think you can disagree with these ones!
3. It Feels Like a Christmas Movie
While this is of course something that's subjective, many will agree that 'Die Hard' does leave them feeling in the Christmas spirit. Regardless of the R rating and everything that comes with such a certificate, 'Die Hard' is, or has at least become, as traditional as the likes of 'Home Alone'.
As such, 'Die Hard' must be considered a Christmas classic! After all, despite its R rating - which it most probably deserves (although if released now, by today's standards it would probably be a lot lower) - the film is a fun ride, with tongue-in-cheek humor and a pretty light tone overall.
2. The Director Has Confirmed It's a Christmas Movie
In December 2020, at the end of a pretty tough year, during an interview with the American Film Institute, 'Die Hard' director John McTiernan decided to cheer everyone up by confirming that the classic actioner is indeed a Christmas movie! How much more evidence do we need?
"We hadn't intended it to be a Christmas movie," the director told the AFI, "but the joy that came from it is what turned it into a Christmas movie." The Joel Silver-penned script was originally a straightforward terrorist movie, but McTiernan took inspiration from 'It's a Wonderful Life'.
1. It Has a Similar Plot to Home Alone
While some theorize that Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin) from the first two 'Home Alone' movies grows up to become Jigsaw from the 'Saw' franchise (but of course he doesn't), the connection between 'Home Alone' and 'Die Hard' tends to get overlooked.
Take this blurb, for instance: Alone, our main hero, separated from his family, must overcome dangerous criminals on Christmas Eve using his wits and resources. Are we talking about 'Die Hard' or 'Home Alone'? Exactly!
Still not convinced? Check out the full interview with John McTiernan below: