Things you only notice in Die Hard if you watch it more than once
While there is a lot to love about “Die Hard,” one of them is the villain and “exceptional thief“: Hans Gruber. Hans is smart, sultry and performed to perfection by the late Alan Rickman. It was Rickman’s very first movie role (after years as a stage actor), and the performance is so strong that ‘she redefined the audience expected of a villain in an action flick. Before “Die Hard,” most villains were muscular bullies; in the decades since, the most effective villains have largely been those who had enough brains to engage the protagonist in a chess match with the highest stakes.
But, maybe Hans wasn’t as bright as we all remember. The more frequently you watch the movie, the more its heist plans seem based on chance, fragile logic, and details that left it wide open for a “fly in the ointment” to bring down the entire operation.
In order to open Nakatomi’s vault and get his hands on $ 640 million in negotiable bearer bonds, he must open the seventh lock (which uses an electromagnetic seal) – and to perform this Christmas miracle, he always planned to have the FBI cut off the power at a the whole city gate. If the power stays on – if the FBI just makes a different decision Hans didn’t anticipate – the whole mission fails and the terrorists either die or return home empty-handed. Hans is a confident guy, but that seems like a lot to be left to chance.
McClane (Bruce Willis) and Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) seem to realize that cutting the power will give Hans exactly what he wants; in theory, if one of these men led the FBI response, that would be the end of the game for Hans. Of course, luckily for the ex-member of the Volksfrei movement, Hans is more engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the agency residents triggering happy dope, Agents Johnson and Johnson, who play the game with his hands.
This isn’t the only convoluted part of Hans’ plan. He also “plays” the terrorist to save time, planning to blow up the roof of the building and – following the carnage – to smuggle a team so large it warranted a semi-truck for transport out of town. Century City… in an ambulance? Hans’s plan gives the film its narrative twists, of course – but with so many convoluted stages, it’s no wonder it only took one cowboy to bring him down.