Die Hard (1988) Ending Explained – Does John save the hostages before it’s too late?

Die Hard Plot Synopsis

A police officer, John McClane, travels from New York to Los Angeles to patch up his issues with his estranged wife, Holly. However, his simple trip turns into a dangerous rescue effort when a group of terrorists hold his wife and several others hostage during a Christmas party. John has to employ every skill in his book to save his wife and, by extension, Christmas.

Die Hard

When does John arrive in Los Angeles?

John lands in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. His wife, Holly is at a party held by her employer, Nakatomi Corporation at the still-unfinished high-rise Nakatomi Plaza. Argyle, a limousine driver, takes John to the office building and offers to wait for him until he has his accommodations figured out.

John discovers that Holly is using Gennaro as her maiden name. After John meets her, they have an argument over her using this. Meanwhile, a group of armed terrorists led by Hans Gruber seize the tower and hold the partygoers hostage. However, John manages to slip away into the maintenance areas of the building.

What’s Gruber’s purpose?

Takagi learns Gruber’s motive is to steal bearer bonds worth $640 million stored in the building’s lockers. Gruber executes Takagi when he refuses to reveal the combination to open the vault. The head terrorist tasks one of his men, Theo, with breaking into the vault.

Alerted of John’s presence in the tower, Gruber sends Tony to find him. John, however, kills Tony and takes his weapon and radio. He then contacts LAPD who send sergeant Al Powell to look into the matter. Unable to find any signs of disturbance, Powell is about to leave.

However, John manages to stop him by dropping the body of one of the terrorists onto his car. Gruber summons SWAT for backup. As the SWAT team tries to storm into the building, they are assaulted by the terrorists. John drops C-4 explosives – killing a bunch of terrorists and stopping the assault.

Die Hard

Does Gruber shoot John?

Gruber kills Holly’s colleague after he unsuccessfully tries to negotiate with John on his behalf. In one instance, Gruber pretends to be an escaped hostage in order to trick John into dropping his guard. The plan works and John hands a gun to Gruber. Gruber triggers the gun but finds out it’s unloaded. John escapes, however, he loses the detonators he collected from the terrorists he killed.

What action does the FBI take?

The agents shut off the power which disables the electromagnetic locks on building vaults – giving Gruber access to the bonds. FBI promises to arrange the helicopter as demanded by Gruber.

John, however, realizes Gruber wants to do much more harm than just stealing. He finds that Gruber has rigged the helipad on the roof with detonators, and plans to kill everybody.

Die Hard

How does John save the hostages?

Gruber’s men force the hostages to the roof of the building. As John tries to get everybody inside safely, the FBI shoots at him – mistaking him for one of the terrorists. John escapes again using a fire hose as a rescue rope.

Gruber discovers from a news report that John is Holly’s husband. He keeps Holly with him, using her as a shield against any attack from John.

John, down to his last two bullets, surrenders with his gun taped to his back. Just as Gruber the opponent was down, John pulls out his pistol – killing his last aide and shooting him through the chest. Gruber falls through the building window, but grabs hold of Holly’s wristwatch. His weight also drags her out of the window. John unstraps her watch just in time causing Gruber to fall to his death. The couple shares a tight smooch.

As they are about to leave, Karl, one of the terrorists who has been pretending to be an injured hostage, attempts to ambush John and Holly with an assault rifle. However, Powell shoots him. The couple leave in Argyle’s limo and save both the hostages and Christmas.

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