“John’s strong unique blend of humor and arrogance makes him an unusual yet memorable action hero…” Extracts from a script report by our trainee Daniela Piper-Vegh, based on a reading of the script DIE HARD: CLICK HERE to read the script.
TITLE: DIE HARD DRAFT DATE: 1988
AUTHOR: JEB STUART COVERAGE DATE: 2/22/16
The story starts with Detective JOHN MACCLANE arriving in Los Angeles before Christmas. He is attempting a reconciliation with HOLLY his estranged wife. Holly works at the Nakatomi Corporation who are celebrating the success of the company at a Christmas party. A group of German terrorists hijack the party and take hostages, site all the while working to break through the vault in the building, in order to steal $640 million in bearer bonds. John tries to take down the operation whilst sneaking around the building, trying to remain undetected. The Senior V.P of Sales for Nakatomi, TAGAKI does not cooperate with the main terrorist HANS GRUBER’S request to open the safe. As a consequence Takagi is killed by Hans. After accidentally revealing himself to the terrorists, MacClane is followed by one of Hans’ henchmen TONY. MacClane kills Toby, henceforth using his radio to contact the LAPD and eventually to communicate with Hans himself.
Sgt. POWELL of the LAPD is sent to investigate John’s call, and just as he is about to leave the scene, MacClane drops another henchman MARCO’S dead body onto Powell’s car. This grabs Powell’s attention, and he summons reinforcements from the LAPD to surround the Nakatomi building. A SWAT team infiltrates the building but they are defeated by the terrorists, who have been expecting them. After several more deaths of henchmen and a hostage, MacClane encounters Hans, who passes himself off as an escaped hostage. Gruber tries to shoot MacClane but finds that the gun he has been handed by MacClane isn’t loaded. The FBI arrive at the scene, turning off the building’s power. However, cutting the power in fact disables the vault’s final lock, playing right into Hans’ plan. Hans tries to set up his escape, meanwhile discovering that MacClane is in fact the husband of one of his hostages Holly. In a final confrontation, MacClane surrenders his weapons in exchange for Holly’s ensured safety. However, in a spectacular final twist MacClane uses a concealed hand gun to shoot Gruber, who then falls through a window to his death. MacClane and Holly are reunited and leave the premises safe and triumphant.
The story has a clear structure that makes the action easy to follow. There is a clear protagonist in the form of John Macclane, with an equally strong antagonist Hans Gruber. John Macclane is immediately introduced as a likeable character, as the audience first meets him in a vulnerable state. Having John be afraid of flying is important as it helps the audience see a more human side to him, rather than just an action hero with incredible endurance. John’s strong unique blend of humor and arrogance makes him an unusual yet memorable action hero. The audience is at once impressed by his endurance and resourcefulness at the same time as feeling an emotional connection with him. John’s lack of personal success, having to work to win back his estranged wife gives him a clear emotional flaws, that ultimately makes him seem more human and relatable. There is a good cast of supporting characters, with Hans’ henchman being given substantial roles that go beyond basic henchman stereotypes. The relationship between Hans and MacClane is made more compelling due to their physical and emotional confrontations. The moment in which Hans meets MacClane, but MacClane does not recognize him as the mastermind terrorist, mistaking him instead for an escaped hostage is rife with dramatic irony and tension. It is unusual for the action genre for the antagonist and protagonist to be so close to each other, in such a seemingly innocent encounter.
The story has several dramatic twists, making the action fast-paced and exciting. There is plenty of character development, with the story having emotional and inter-personal conflict, as well as situational. The dialogue has good momentum, even allowing for occasional witty and humorous exchanges. The script has great commercial potential, in part due to the lead roles which would be attractive to established talent. There is also strong potential for impressive visual effects for a cinematic audience.