5 ‘Die Hard’ knockoffs besides Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Skyscraper’

Updated July 11, 2018 - 10:04 pm

On July 15, 1988, Bruce Willis burst onto movie screens as John McClane, the lone hero trying mightily to save his wife from inside a tall building, in “Die Hard.”

Nearly 30 years to the day later, Dwayne Johnson hits theaters this weekend as Will Sawyer, the lone hero trying mightily to save his wife and kids from inside a tall building, in “Skyscraper.”

As McClane himself might say, “Yippee ki-hey, wait a minute!”

“Skyscraper” isn’t the first movie to imitate the “Die Hard” formula: professional hero, outgunned and outmanned, who’s unexpectedly caught up in a hostage situation that only he can stop.

It isn’t even the first one to be called “Skyscraper.”

Here’s a look back at some of the other notable attempts:

“Passenger 57” (1992)

It’s “Die Hard” on … a plane, just like “Executive Decision” and “Air Force One.”

John McClane stand-in: aviation security expert John Cutter (Wesley Snipes).

The villain: Charles Rane (Bruce Payne), a notorious airplane bomber being transported on the not-at-all-fake-sounding Atlantic International airline.

Most obvious similarities to “Die Hard”: a hero named John who hates flying; a cultured villain; an international band of accomplices; a bad guy who falls to his death from a great height.

Where things get weird: “You’d think they’d put an airline hijacker on a bus or a train,” declares the Atlantic International president (Bruce Greenwood). Yeah. You would.

The catchphrase: “Always bet on black.” — Cutter.

“Under Siege” (1992)

It’s “Die Hard” on … a battleship.

John McClane stand-in: Chief Petty Officer Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal), the USS Missouri’s cook.

The villains: Commander Krill (Gary Busey); William Strannix (Tommy Lee Jones), a former CIA operative who poses as the tie-dye-and-sunglasses-wearing frontman for Bad Billy and the Bail Jumpers, a rock band that reveals just how starved for entertainment sailors can be after months at sea.

Most obvious similarities to “Die Hard”: Ryback strips down to a tank top; he clings to a rope while leaping off an exploding flight deck; there’s an international band of accomplices.

Where things get weird: Jones proves nearly as adept as Seagal in whatever you call that martial art that’s really just a lot of waving your hands around without really accomplishing much of anything.

The catchphrase: “Go get my pies outta the oven!” — Ryback.

“Cliffhanger” (1993)

It’s “Die Hard” on … a mountain.

John McClane stand-in: rescue climber Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone).

The villain: Eric Qualen (John Lithgow), who masterminded the theft of $100 million from the U.S. Treasury.

Most obvious similarities to “Die Hard”: instead of being barefoot, Walker is stripped of his coat in the snow at high altitude; a villain who knows what to do with bearer bonds; an international band of accomplices; Walker wears a tank top; a bad guy falls to his death from a great height; “Cliffhanger” director Renny Harlin also helmed 1990’s “Die Hard 2.”

Where things get weird: For no apparent reason, Lithgow speaks in an intermittent British accent, more than two decades before he’d win an Emmy as Winston Churchill in Netflix’s “The Crown.”

The catchphrase: “Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times!” — Walker. (Admittedly, it isn’t great.)

“White House Down” (2013)

It’s “Die Hard” in … the White House, just like “Olympus Has Fallen.”

John McClane stand-in: Capitol Police officer John Cale (Channing Tatum).

The villain: Martin Walker (James Woods), the head of the president’s Secret Service detail.

Most obvious similarities to “Die Hard”: An off-duty cop named John who strips down to a white tank top; action in an elevator shaft; a hacker tries to get past the final firewall; a botched rescue attempt the hero warned would fail that leads to fiery casualties; the hero being fired upon by a “friendly” helicopter while on the roof.

Where things get weird: right around the time pacifist President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) fires a rocket out of his SUV during a high-speed chase on the White House lawn.

The catchphrase: “Get. Your. Hands. Off. My. Jordans.” — the sneaker-loving Sawyer.

“Skyscraper” (1996)

It’s “Die Hard” in … a high-rise, so basically “Die Hard.”

John McClane stand-in: helicopter pilot Carrie Wink (Anna Nicole Smith), whose absurdly long, manicured fingernails are shown, wrapped around the flight controls, in far too many closeups as if that will convince viewers she’s really, really flying that chopper.

The villain: Fairfax (Charles Huber), a mush-mouthed, Shakespeare-quoting terrorist who’s stolen some kind of gizmo.

Most obvious similarities to “Die Hard”: the movie feels like a “Die Hard” remake, made by people who’ve only heard of “Die Hard” third hand; a bad guy falls to his death from a great height; at one point Carrie wears a tank top, although “wears” is a strong word.

Where things gets weird: It’s a movie about a hostage crisis that’s foiled by Anna Nicole Smith — it gets weird long before the opening credits. The whole thing is about as coherent as Smith was at the time. Somewhere, there’s a CIA black site playing this on a loop.

The catchphrase: “Keep your shirt on. Keep your shirt on.” — Carrie’s dispatcher, Chauncey. (To the surprise of literally no one, Carrie does not comply.)

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like