What more can be said about the action masterpiece that is Die Hard? Not only is it one of the coolest action movies ever made, it’s the perfect movie to watch on Christmas and beyond.
Its success is rooted in its formula: one unlikely hero must defeat a memorable villain and his cronies by himself in a limited location before the ticking clock expires.
This formula has been proven effective by hundreds of subsequent action movies that have followed in its footsteps—some good, some mediocre, and a few just flat-out terrible. Heck, even Home Alone could be seen as a Die Hard clone with its narrative setup!
This year, after you’ve seen Die Hard (yet again), check out these many other Die Hard movie clones that are also worth watching.
15. Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
In the showdown between Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down—the two Die Hard clones released in 2013 and set in the White House—Olympus Has Fallen is the clear winner. Gerard Butler delivers the goods in this throwback to the excessive action movies of the 90s.
Gerard Butler stars as Mike Banning, a disgraced Secret Service agent who steps up his game to rescue the president (played by Aaron Eckhart) from a North Korean militia. It’s ludicrously 90s, packed with bombast, one-liners, and all-out action.
14. Passenger 57 (1992)
Of course Wesley Snipes jumped on the Bruce Willis bandwagon with his own Die Hard knockoff. Passenger 57 is essentially Die Hard on a plane, with Snipes playing a former law enforcer who’s now head of airline security—and must stop several goons from freeing a captured terrorist.
Passenger 57 has all the hallmarks of a Die Hard clone: several terrorists, a captivating baddie, and a lone-wolf hero. But beneath its trappings, Snipes proved he can work both fight scenes and tragic backstory at once, complete with action sequences to follow.
13. Sudden Death (1995)
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s appearance in Sudden Death is a career highlight. This movie is basically Die Hard in an ice skating rink, with a group of terrorists holding the Vice President hostage. In comes Darren McCord, a former fireman who must take down the terrorists by himself.
Those who want to see Van Damme in his prime will be thrilled to see his charm and skills put to good use here. One of the best sequences includes McCord battling two henchmen on the arena’s roof. Powers Boothe’s villain (and all the hockey jargon) add to its cheesiness.
12. Toy Soldiers (1991)
What if instead of a lone-wolf hero, we have four boys? And what if they were younger? That’s basically the pitch for Toy Soldiers, which trades John McClane for four boys, Alan Rickman for Andrew Divoff, and Nakatomi Plaza for a boarding school.
On paper, it feels like a Die Hard carbon copy—but there’s a lot of charisma oozing out of this young-adult thriller. Its tone feels more like a grown-up version of The Goonies (which, coincidentally, also starred Sean Astin). Add to that Louis Gossett Jr. playing straight man!
11. Under Siege (1992)
Steven Seagal is one complicated action movie star. Setting aside his ludicrous diplomacy work, his movies are anything but steady. Still, without a doubt, Under Siege is his best action movie and his character of Casey Ryback is a solid one for the ages.
A former Navy Seal turned chef for a Navy battleship, Ryback is forced to save the ship and her crew from mercenaries, led by Tommy Lee Jones’ William Strannix, a ruthless CIA agent turned rogue.
It has the elements of a great Die Hard knockoff: a hero in Seagal, his wit and martial arts skills, Jones’ fun villain, and hard-knuckle action.
10. Executive Decision (1996)
Steven Seagal again, this time partnered with Kurt Russell in what can only be described as “Die Hard on a plane.” Both play officers for the US Army Special Forces, sent to rescue a hijacked airplane from extremists.
Another 90s romp, Executive Decision brings all the seriousness and craziness of its era. If you think barging into a midflight plane is crazy enough, combine it with cheesy one-liners, army mumbo-jumbo, crazy action scenes, and David Suchet’s nefarious bad guy.
The result? A fascinating blend of Kurt Russell’s B-movie style and Steven Seagal’s ludicrous action. Just be sold on their “tandem.”
9. Final Score (2018)
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In Final Score, Dave Bautista stars as Michael Knox, who must use his fighting skills to rescue his niece after a group of terrorists interrupt a soccer match and hold her hostage.
Most Die Hard clones rely on their action star’s pedigree and overall film editing for maximum impact of action, but this one’s different. Final Score takes full advantage of Bautista’s screen presence, both with regard to his action prowess and his charisma.
Not to mention sneering villainy from Pierce Brosnan and Ray Stevenson, which helps elevate Final Score to even higher heights.
8. Con Air (1997)
One of the most iconic “Die Hard on a plane” movies features Nicolas Cage in one of his most “Nicolas Cagiest” roles yet.
In Con Air, Nicolas Cage plays Cameron Poe, a former officer who’s unjustly imprisoned. While onboard a plane filled with inmates, Cyrus the Virus (played by John Malkovich) leads a prison break, resulting in Poe needing to take matters into his own hands.
Con Air is the sum of everything great about 90s action flicks: bombastic action (of course, it’s a Bruckheimer production!), broken physics, breakout characters, a vicious villain in Malkovich’s Cyrus, subtle humor, a cheesy theme song in “How Do I Live,” and Cage at his peak.
7. Phone Booth (2002)
Phone Booth is a unique Die Hard clone, starring gritty action hero… Colin Farrell? He plays a young publicist named Stu, who’s unwittingly pulled into a sniper’s schemes after he answers a ringing phone booth.
Stu must use his wits to outwit the sniper and foil his plans without any suspicion. It’s a simple premise, and you might not think an entire movie set inside a phone booth would work as a feature-length thriller—but Phone Booth turned its limitations into strengths.
Most of its success hinges on Farrell’s performance, whose paranoia and uneasiness solidifies Phone Booth as one of the best claustrophobic action films ever made, in tandem with director Joel Schumacher’s ability to translate that tense vibe to the screen.
6. The Rock (1996)
Nicolas Cage crossed paths with Michael Bay in this awesome 90s action blockbuster, which is basically “Die Hard in Alcatraz.”
Nicolas Cage plays Stanley Goodspeed, an unhinged FBI chemist who’s sent to Alcatraz Island to stop a rogue general (played by Ed Harris) and his men from launching gas-filled rockets to San Francisco.
Like Con Air, The Rock represents every excessive 90s action flick ever. And with this one being directed by Michael Bay, you can expect a lot of high-octane action—in a good way, as Bay shows a passion for his characters, his set pieces, and his awesome sequences here.
5. Cliffhanger (1993)
Of course Sylvester Stallone had his own take of Die Hard—one that was set up in the mountains.
Cliffhanger follows extreme mountain climber Gabe, who finds himself in the middle of a robbery plot involving a plane from the US Treasury. Using his mountaineering expertise, Gabe must outsmart the ruthless goons behind the operation.
Stallone infuses his take on John McClane with his trademark over-the-top action, this time overcoming a guilty past and confronting a fiercer enemy. He brings a charm to Gabe that makes the action gratifying, and having him face off against evil British John Lithgow is awesome.
4. Dredd (2012)
While 1995’s Judge Dredd failed to do justice to its gritty source material, 2012’s Dredd succeeded. Starring Karl Urban as the titular judge, jury, and executioner, the reboot has him and his partner on a risky mission to restore order in a high-rise and stop a powerful drug lord.
Dredd incorporates all the grit and grim of the world of Judge Dredd, showing a hefty balance between action and social commentary. And boy, those action sequences—all beautifully and tensely shot—are ones to behold for all action movie fans.
3. Air Force One (1997)
Of all “Die Hard on a plane” movies, Air Force One is the best.
This blockbuster places Harrison Ford (who plays President of the United States) in a vulnerable position after terrorists hijack the plane. He must use his wits to rescue his colleagues and stop terrorist ringleader, Egor Korshunov (played by Gary Oldman).
The awesomeness of Air Force One hinges on Ford, whose action star charisma never runs dry here. And his character, President James Marshall, is arguably the best movie president ever! No other movie president can make “Get off my plane!” sound so cool.
2. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Several countries have their own versions of Die Hard, but this one from Indonesia is a must-watch for action movie fans worldwide.
The Raid: Redemption follows an elite squad assigned to stop a drug lord who’s operating from inside a high-rise. What follows is a bloody showdown between the squad and the drug lord’s deadly goons.
Critics and audiences cite The Raid as one of the best action films ever made, demonstrated by its bare-knuckle action, excellent stunts, stunning cinematography, and gunfire that never lets up—all from the POV of Iko Uwais’ Rama, who is this movie’s John McClane.
1. Speed (1994)
The best of the subgenre has to go to this “Die Hard on a bus” action movie masterpiece. Speed pits Keanu Reeves’ Officer Jack Traven against mad bomber Howard Payne (played by Dennis Hopper), who has rigged a public bus to explode if it slows to under 50 miles per hour.
Traven teams up with passenger Annie Porter (played by Sandra Bullock) to stop Payne and bring the bus to safety.
If you want an adrenaline rush of a movie, you have to watch this. Director Jan de Bont (who served as Die Hard’s cinematographer) delivers on tension and action, complete with Reeves’ charisma and chemistry with Bullock. With its explosive climax, Speed is top-tier action adrenaline.