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Headscratchers: Die Hard

  • Is it really FBI policy to cut the power to a building during a siege? The phone lines I can understand (though the 'terrorists' in Die Hard do that themselves) but cutting the electricity seems like an awful provocation in a volatile situation.
    • It depends. The phone lines are always cut, but the power is something they would consider on a case-by-case basis.
      • Which begs the question : how did the 'terrorists' know that the FBI would do it in this case? They were relying on it. Their plan would have failed without it.
      • Whether it's standard policy in real life, it is in the movie. Several characters say it's a known part of the "anti-terrorist handbook."
      • Cutting the power means that the terrorists lose lighting, air conditioning, and possibly plumbing. The idea is to "sweat them out" as the FBI guy said; make them so uncomfortable that they give up. Also means that they lose the elevators, so they have less freedom of mobility within the building.
      • Its worth pointing out to younger tropers that the first Die Hard came out 7 years before Oklahoma City and 13 years before 9/11. Giving in to demands and/or trying to flush them out was still considered a decent way to a peaceful solution.
  • Related to the above, how is it that when Nakatomi Plaza loses power, it's got enough backup power for emergency lighting, for withdrawing the maglocked door, and for audio-announcements and alarms, yet not enough backup power to keep their electromagnetic vault shut?
    • It could be a safety backup. No power could trap someone in the vault. The designers probably figured that if the power was out, people would be wanting to get out of the building.
    • Also, emergency lights and fire alarms generally run off of batteries. And with six other mechanical locking systems in place its likely that the electromagnetic component was designed to fail-open rather than fail-shut because they'd still want to be able to open the vault during a power failure, if need be.
  • It has been some time since I watch the fourth movie (which i consider the worst of the series), but I do vaguely remember a scene where the Big Bad reads aloud all the info about John McClane. That is his cop pension and family information, but NOTHING about John being a virtual superhero, who fought off three terrorist threats in the past. For that matter, how did John manage to remain a regular detective after all of the events in previous films?
    • The purpose of that scene is that Big Bad reads information that should be secure as a way of telling John just how good his hackers are in order to intimidate him. Everyone knows John McClane saved the hostages at Nakatomi Plaza, so there's no point in saying that. He then blanks those accounts to try and use it as leverage—immediately after, he tells John that if he kills the kid, he'll put it all right back and then wipe out his debts on top of that because he's just such a nice guy. Sure, it's a little bit of Wrong Genre Savvy that the guy doesn't realize that he's following in the footsteps of three dead guys, but that's pretty standard for a villain.

      As for managing to stay a regular detective, well, what else is he supposed to do? Life goes on even after stopping a terrorist threat a couple times, so he's going to continue doing his job. Stopping three attacks over the span of a decade is, yes, somewhat above average, but it doesn't make you a "virtual superhero"—especially considering he almost certainly had to spend weeks recovering from each—and it doesn't mean you can just retire and live the high life. As the third movie showed, even being John McClane and saving your wife from two terrorist attacks doesn't mean you can even save your marriage.

  • Wow, I'm the only one who's thought of this? Okay, so John McClane kills so many people. But he's not wearing shoes. Why doesn't he just steal one of the dead guys' shoes and put them on? They're wearing socks, so he doesn't have to worry about fungal infections, and if he's really worried about it, he can douse them in alcohol (which should be abundant).
    • When he was scavenging gear off of Heinrich (the guy carrying the detonators), he had enough time to wisecrack with Hans over the radio, so he could've just as well taken his shoes, unless they were very tightly tied.
    • Maybe McClane has really big feet? After all, he is the hero :)
      • You're pretty much correct. If I remembered the respective scene correctly, McClane makes a remark wondering why terrorists have such small feet. It begs the question, is this innuendo / double entendre on body part size.
    • He tries to steal the shoes of the first terrorist he kills, but they're too small. I don't think he ever has time to for the rest of the film.
    • He could have just worn their SOCKS. Not hygienic,but better than having your feet get cut.
      • Except that would have increased the risk of slipping and falling if he walked over a tile or hardwood floor.
    • I've considered the situation a lot, actually, and figured there was nothing he could do. He had to be Genre Savvy to suspect the terrorists would shoot the glass, and wrap his feet in some clothes before (or just so not to have other disadvantages, like stepping in stuff that could hurt you without shoes, if not necessarily glass. But at that tension, it's amazing he had the Properly Paranoid idea to disguise his name and his reason for being there in the first place. Probably wrapping his feet in something would have made him too much of a Chessmaster, or Bruce Willis with his feet in clothes would have been too Narmy. Take your pick. Also, yes, he tried the shoes of the first terrorist and they didn't fit, so he thought "What the hell, I'm fine barefoot".
      • He could have, y'know, moved the glass shards aside. Hell, drop on all fours and you can sweep it away with your arms.
      • A. That risks being, you know, shot by the guys who're shooting at him, and B. his arms are just as easily torn open by glass shards as his feet are.
      • It is worth pointing out that in the amount of time John would have been able to take to think "Hey, I could sweep this out of the way", he would have been dead. He had no time to think about it, period.

  • I may be misunderstanding the explosives used, but why, when John gets the detonators and realises how important they are to Hans, doesn't he try and dispose of them like by throwing them out the window? I was under the impression that the explosive they were using doesn't blow up unless it's in direct contact with the detonator.
    • I think he kept them as a bargaining chip, in case Hans ever figured out who his wife was.
    • They're also a tool. "Now I have a block of C4. Ho ho ho."
      • No, he used that up long before he realised that Hans still needed the detonators. But I take the point about them being a bargaining chip.
  • While I agree that John walking through shards of glass in Die Hard 1 makes a really strong scene that underlines his determination, it is hard to believe that in that whole blasted-to-pieces office was nothing he could have used to at least try and clear a path in front of himself.
    • If you remember, that specific firefight was taking place in a datacentre. Generally, you do NOT want stuff you can trip on when lugging disk packs and magtapes around (I suppose it could have been the disaster recovery suite). The whole thing was on false floors..
    • Just watched the scene again. There were plenty of desks, chairs and other stuff in the room. But I (same as above) now think the real issue was time. It wasn't visible on the screen, but he was looking over to a door with an exit sign and then at the glass on the floor while the bad guys were shooting at him. The next time we see him, his feet are cut up. So he most likely had no time to clear a path.
  • Also on the subject of the glass: when Hans gives the order to shoot the glass in German, the other terrorist doesn't understand him. Hans then has to repeat the order in English to be understood. Even though all the terrorists are German.
    • I got the impression that the guy just couldn't hear him. It's easier to give the order in english quietly so it couldn't be heard by McClane, than in German, maybe? Or maybe the guy's not German. It's not really clear that they're all German.
      • You are correct on not all the fake terrorist (mercenary / Bank Robbers) being German. At least two of them are Italian, Franco and Marco. This leaves the possibility of other nationalities as well, Uli and I believe James as well. On an interesting side note, in the German release, the German dialogue was converted to English and the German names were changed to English counterparts (i.e. Karl was changed to Charles). This was done because terrorism in then West Germany was too fresh in memory (i.e. Bader-Meinhoff).
    • Or maybe Karl is thinking 'Huh? Why would he want to do that?'
    • I always had the impression that the first film intended for Hans to only be pretending to be German, and the reason Karl couldn't understand him was because he didn't say it right.
      • That would have been a hilarious Bilingual Bonus if he had been saying "Scheiss die Fenster" instead of "Schiess die Fenster". (apologies in advance for any grammatical or spelling errors introduced. Been a long time since I've seen the scene or studied German.)
      • As clarification: Schiessen means 'to shoot'. Scheiss means 'shit'
      • As funny as that would be, it's quite clear Hans really is German.
  • In Die Hard 4.0, the bad guys have hired a whole bunch of hackers to get their code in place, but to stop them talking have placed bombs in their computers that go off when they press a particular key (delete, I think) after delivering the code. Wouldn't it have been easier to use a remote detonator? It's not as if they were short of resources as they even had a hit squad in place to take out the target in case they avoided the bomb.
    • Most people aren't really smart enough, I don't think, to realize that computers don't just blow up. A squad of guys filing out of a van is more suspicious than a critical hardware failure.
      • True, but the point is the bad guys did set up the hackers' computers to explode but in a really stupid way - if you assume that the hackers aren't going to notice the bomb (which our hero didn't) why not have it set off remotely so you don't need to send in the SWAT team? And if you can't, for some reason (the receiver would have to be too big, or something) then at least have it activated by a key that he's much more likely to press (like the "Space Bar"). Team Evil's actions only served to point John McClane in the direction of the plot!
      • To answer why they didn't use space, it's because the bomb (or possibly something they programmed into the computer) caused the system to hang. What's the first thing they do when the computer hangs. Control alt delete.
      • Yes, we know how the bomb works, but the point is, making a bomb that requires the target to detonate it is a stupid thing to do when it's entirely possible to make one you can blow up whenever the hell you feel like it.
      • Even size doesn't excuse it. Considering that they were obviously able to get into the targets' homes, get to their computers, and plant the explosive without being noticed, they could just as easily have planted a remote bomb elsewhere in the home or room. Or even have placed a secondary bomb in case the first one failed for some reason (like it did here).
      • Well, the way I saw it, they pull up in the van, and they activate/upload some kind of "virus" which causes the computer to lock up. When the hackers hit the delete key to try and clear the bug for whatever reason, it detonates the block of C4. They try and focus it a little, to make sure they get the guy. If for whatever reason the C4 doesn't detonate, they call in the french guys to finish the job. It's a little convoluted, but then again, this is from the mind of a guy who initiated the world's largest ever cyberterrorism attack as a cover to stealing loads of money.
      • This seems to prove that they can not only plant explosives in the house but also send just about whatever transmission into the house while sitting outside. The reason this is [Fridge Logic] is that by making the bomb contingent on pressing a button on the keyboard it means that the hacker is near the computer when it explodes, which seems sensible. But that's negated if you have a guy in a van outside watching the house who can see the hacker and tell when he's near the bomb.
      • I always thought the explanation was disturbingly simple. Gabriel is an arrogant, sick, fuck who simply enjoys the thought that these other lesser nerds will actively end their own lives by failing to notice he is the uber-nerd and has rigged their own computers against them. The whole thing is as much about his salving his wounded ego as it about the money.
      • Blowing the computer served a secondary function. It ensured that if any of the hackers kept a record of what they'd done, it was destroyed, and that no one investigating the blast would find anything about the kids' doings.
      • Simple. Setting up the bomb to go off when you hit the delete key ensures that the hacker is in proximity to the bomb. Remote detonating it with your own gear runs the risk that the hacker might get up to take a piss or lean back or otherwise be in a position to not get exploded. But if he's leaning over his keyboard and hitting the delete key, he's right there up close to the bomb.
      • Yeah, but they've got a dude right there on the next roof watching anyway. It's not like they'd be remote detonating it at random, they seem to be pretty easily able to look into the rooms, so they oughta be able to tell when the guy's around.
      • Now, see, at this point I've given you a perfectly good reason for why to hook it up to the delete key, and you're just saying "But they still could have done it some other way!" So frankly it looks less like you're asking "Why did they do it this way?" and more like you're saying "I've caught the scriptwriters being dumb! Praise me!" and don't want to listen to other thoughts on the matter.
    • The virus wasn't transmitted by the van. It was transmitted in the final transaction between Gabriel's people and the hackers. The van was just there to make sure it went off and observe.
      • Except that it was transmitted from the van. There was even a fancy pop-up that said "uploading virus."
  • I can't locate the reference for this on,but here's something that has always bugged me: The crimes that all of the villains commit in the entire Die Hard series are so much worse than the crime that they are trying to cover up.
    Let see: Armed robbery moderate to length sentence.
    Terrorism: The death penalty...extrajudicial murder...Guantanamo.
    And why do the amounts they are trying to steal have to be so ridiculously large? The majority of people on Earth will never make more than a few million dollars in their entire lives. So I can believe people would do anything to get a million or two. $640 million dollars (Die Hard #1) was (and is) completely ludicrous.
    • Yes, but they're counting on not being caught. Remember what Hans said? "If you steal 600 million, they will find you, unless they think you're already dead."

      And why shouldn't the money they're stealing be a huge amount? If you're going to risk the kind of things you just pointed out, there should be a significant payback. Also, keep in mind the 640 million was originally going to be split between like 20 guys.
      • I just did the math on it. There were 13 terrorists total (Hans, 11 gunmen including Karl, and Theo, the computer expert) so splitting $640 million between them would have netted each member of the group about $49.2 million. That would be about $89.5 million in 2011 dollars, more than enough money to live on for the rest of your life. Plus, Hans makes a quip at one point that the group will "be sitting on a beach, earning 20%." Not only are they getting a big payday, they'll be earning interest on it too! Yeah, well worth the "terrorist" label the media and police will pin on them.
      • And that's assuming an even split, which most jobs like this do not do. Hans and the computer expert would have likely taken the largest shares with the gunmen taking smaller shares.
    • A million dollars doesn't make you rich nowadays anymore. Retiring with a million dollar in the bank is possible, but you'd have to watch your spending for the rest of your life. Then, any number of CEOs demonstrate that once you DO have enough so that you can never ever realistically spend it, acquiring even more obscene amounts of money becomes an end in itself.
      • Yes, a million dollars still makes you rich.
      • A million dollars may be life-changing money, and may make you rich compared to most of humanity, but it doesn't make you rich by Los Angeles standards (where I live). You can't even buy a rich person's house for that much money, you'd need a lot more than that to live like a king for the rest of your life.
      • Well, it's a good thing they weren't planning on staying in Los Angeles, then.
    • Killing someone while committing a felony is a capital offense in most states, California included. So technically they were all at risk for the death penalty the moment Hans shot Takai. The point isn't to avoid the penalties. It's to throw the cops off. The authorities will approach the situation differently if they think it's terrorists than if they think it's a heist. Makes them easier to manipulate.
  • In "With A Vengeance" we get a big speech about how safe the binary liquid bombs are until they are mixed and they'll never explode. Which begs the question why none of the characters on finding a bomb that hasn't mixed yet doesn't simply rip out the mixing tubes (or in the case of the bomb in the school, take a fire axe to the tubes.) Remember, till they mix, there's nothing to explode.
    • Well, the one guy mentions something about the one in the school probably being booby-trapped, but that aside, yeah. You'd think someone would at least lampshade what seems to be a fairly obvious weakness in the bomb's design.
    • Even with booby traps, they should be able to drain the fluid from one of the tanks. I don't think there is a booby trap that triggers the bomb if someone drills a hole in one of the tanks. If they're worried about the decreased weight of the tank triggering the bomb, they could either replace the fluid with water or drain it really fast so there isn't enough liquid left for the bomb to explode.
    • And let's not forget that, if you cut the mixing tubes, it doesn't even matter if it's booby trapped or not. If the liquids don't mix, the bomb won't work.
      • Let's not forget that McClane and Zeus were specifically confronted with a puzzle bomb where they had to match an exact amount of liquid. So the bombers clearly know how to set a bomb triggered by fluid weight and the cops couldn't risk a similar device triggering the school bomb.
    • This is probably overthinking it, but it could theoretically be booby trapped to destroy or release the contents of all canisters if the device is messed with. Considering that the mixed substance is detonated by physical shock rather than ignition (or a mix of the two) it would still be pretty dangerous if mixed together outside of the bomb. (And say, all over the floor around your feet.)
      • Or, the bomb could simply be booby-trapped with a small amount of C4. It doesn't blow up the school, but it at least takes out the EOD tech, and usually one fatality is enough to make the person in charge at the scene say, "hold on, let's wait for someone to think of something else."
      • not to mention, if the "small amount of C4" goes off, the holding tanks would be breached. Back to the "all over the floor around your feet" theory.
  • In the first movie, McClane jumps off the exploding roof, swings through a window, and then runs into the lobby, just in time for the elevator to explode. What on earth made the elevator explode?
    • Presumably the blast from the roof travelled down the liftshaft.
  • I put this in the Fridge Entry, but maybe it's more suitable here: In Die Hard, how are Hans & co planning to exchange all the 100 000 $ papers without poeple noticing? Let alone one?
    • Check the Fridge Entry, just answered this for you on there.
  • A Good Day To Die Hard: An armed American drone over Moscow airspace? Seriously?
    • Considering our current President wants to have armed American drones flying over our own airspace, why would flying one over Moscow be all that unbelievable?
      • There is a world of difference between having drones flying over your own airspace and having drones fly over the airspace of another sovereign country entirely.
      • And that hasn't stopped Obama from blowing up people in plenty of those other sovereign countries, has it?
      • There's also a world of difference between having drones flying over the airspace of a foreign country that you're in acknowledged conflict with and flying over the airspace of one you don't.
      • America isn't at war with Yemen, didn't stop Obama from murdering Abdulrahman al-Awlaki with a drone missile strike in Yemen. So there's clearly not as much difference as you think.
      • Uh, yeah there is. Yemen's air defence system isn't quite on par with Russia's, so the risk of the drone being spotted is significantly higher. An American-made drone being discovered and taken down at the same time as an attempt is made by an unknown party to break free a political prisoner and murder countless civilians? That wouldn't look too good. The difference isn't about morality, it's about the risk of being caught and the potential repercussions of that happening. That clear enough for you, Sparky?
      • It has been revealed more recently that the NSA has been spying on allied countries. While this is mostly in the form of wiretapping, it isn't out of the question in what is otherwise a simple action flick, for a drone to appear over Russian skies. Keep in mind, the US did send an armed drone over the Phillipines back in 2012 and took out a village in the process in order to sniff out some terrorists.
      • Yemen and the Philippines are not nuclear powers. Russia is. Invading their airspace with military aircraft without their permission is a technical act of war, and while Yemen and the Philippines are vastly unlikely to declare war on the United States regardless of provocation, the freaking world ends if Russia chooses to do that. Rationally speaking, it should never have been risked at all even if the risk was only slight, because if the risk doesn't pan out, its the Apocalypse.
  • Did John and Jack drive all the way from Moscow to Chernobyl? Across the border? I really hope I'm missing something here..
    • Writers Cant Do Geography maybe? And if that's not a trope, it should be.
      • That's covered under Artistic License Geography. "Artistic license" is a better term because it allows for the fact that sometimes writers are aware that things don't work that way but write them that way anyway for the sake of a story. Not everyone considers accuracy to be the primary factor in determining if something is good.
  • In the first film, the criminals are pretending to be terrorists to hide the fact that they are actually trying to break into an electronically sealed vault, and their plan specifically requires the FBI to believe their ruse and cut the power. They are communicating with CB Radios, and it's fairly important at several points in the movie that this communication is not anonymous; when John, the police, or the crooks speaks on the radio everyone can hear it. Yet in one scene Hans goes right from demanding terrorists around the world are released, to asking Theo how he's coming on those locks. Isn't he worried the cops heard that?
    • He changed frequencies when he went to talk to Theo.
  • Pretty trivial question, but... why did John bring just one giant teddy bear to LA instead of two smaller ones? He's got two kids of teddy-bear-loving age at the time, and asking kids that young to "share" the same cuddly toy is a recipe for sibling rivalry at bedtime.
    • He's buying gifts on a cop's salary, and giant teddy bears presumably do not come cheap; he might only have been able to afford one and decided that the squabbles would be worth putting up with.
    • What makes you think his son even wanted a giant teddy bear?
  • How did Hans know so much about Mr. Takagi (e.g. where and when he was born, the camp he was interred in during WWII, the universities he attended, etc.) but not know what he looks like?
    • All Asians Look Alike? Either that or he was just putting on a show for the hostages, showing them that he was an intelligent man who had done his research, and not some thug who could be easily outsmarted or manipulated.
    • He may not have had an up-to-date picture. This was in the 1980s, where even getting a picture of a CEO was not that easy a task, where the most recent publicity release may have been a few years old. That and when people fancy themselves up for a party, even guys, they may not look quite the same as that publicity photo in the lobby. Hans wants to make sure he gets the right guy, and he doesn't want to look bad by either getting the wrong guy or by admitting he isn't sure who he is.

Diary of the DeadHeadscratchers/FilmDie Hard 2

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