Every Die Hard Movie, Ranked: Which One Is the Best?

Some of the Die Hard movies are absolute gems, and some are… well, not.

Action movies are great. They’re so simple—a good force goes up against an evil force and bunch of stuff blown up along the way.

There are few action franchises that are as beloved as Die Hard. Bruce Willis as John McClane is the perfect protagonist. He’s not a hulking brute like we see in so many other action movies. He’s a bit like the everyman who’s backed into a corner and forced to be awesome.

Could I do what McClane does? Probably not, but Bruce Willis’ smaller stature and reluctance to be the hero makes me feel like I could, and that’s awesome.

While Die Hard is beloved overall, the movies vary greatly in terms of quality. Some of them are absolute gems, and some are, well, not. We’re going to go through all of the films and rank them from best to worst. It’s no easy task, but someone has to do it.

5. A Good Day to Die Hard

This was a rather easy movie to rank, as it’s the worst movie in the Die Hard franchise by a sizable margin. A Good Day to Die Hard, or Die Hard 5, feels like it was strictly made as a money grab, as it doesn’t have any of the heart and personality of the previous films.

There are almost no redeeming qualities in A Good Day to Die Hard (I guess the explosions look okay). The acting is bad, the plot is nonsensical, and the film isn’t even entertaining. Seriously, it’s an action movie that doesn’t even entertain with its action sequences. Your best bet is just to pretend this movie doesn’t exist and go on with your life.

4. Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4) is hated by many. Not to the degree that A Good Day to Die Hard is, but people definitely aren’t in love with this firm. And I’m not going to say that it’s good. I’d be kidding myself. But what I will say is that I don’t think the film is as bad as everyone says it is. It’s worse than the three Die Hard films that came before it, but as an action movie, it has some fun and redeeming qualities.

The plot is a bit odd, as Bruce Willis gets himself mixed up in a world of hacking and other futuristic nonsense, but it actually ends up being somewhat interesting. With that and some other aspects that I don’t want to spoil, it hardly feels like a Die Hard film. However, it is a decent enough action movie that’s worth watching.

3. Die Hard With a Vengeance

This is where the battle for Die Hard supremacy really heats up. The top three films are all good in their own way, and they all have their share of issues. In the end, I had to put Die Hard With a Vengeance in the third spot. It also happens to be the third movie in the franchise, but surely that’s a coincidence.

Personally, I don’t really like the buddy-cop feel of this film as much as the next two we’re going to look at, and that keeps it in third place. That’s not to say that it’s a bad movie, because it most certainly isn’t. It just doesn’t have the same intense level of action offered by some of the others, and I come to Die Hard for its blend of thriller and action that no other franchise is able to achieve.

2. Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard 2: Die Harder wins the battle for the best name of any film in the franchise, but it falls into second place in terms of film quality. Of course, coming in second in such a fantastic franchise is still pretty damn good.

For me, the level of action and violence is what puts this over Die Hard with a Vengeance, but it’s an incredibly close battle. This one also feels a bit more like a true sequel to Die Hard (probably because it’s the film that immediately followed the original).

1. Die Hard

While the battle raged on between Die Hard 2 and Die Hard 3, the original cruised through the finish line so far in first that none of the other movies can even see it. Die Hard isn’t just the best Die Hard movie, it’s one of the best action movies and thrillers released in any franchise. It’s a masterpiece.

Whether you consider Die Hard to be a Christmas movie, and action movie, a thriller, or a blend of three, one thing we can all agree on is that it’s awesome.

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  1. Nice post!

    It took me a while to warm up to Bruce Willis. I had to endure his few minutes as a singer in real time no less although now that always reminds me of Boogie Nights.

    I didn’t even watch the first Die Hard until 2002 after I watched . . with a Vengeance. And only watched that after The Last Boy Scout won me over to Willis’s camp.

    I agree that the first in the Die Hard series is the best but I really did not like Die Harder. I felt there was way too much cheese in much of it. To me the 3rd installment got it closer to the intensity of the first one plus it has Samuel L Jackson’s Zeus.

    Just my 2ยข.

  2. The original is *usually* the best, but it’s not always the case. Two exceptions that immediately come to mind are The Empire Strikes Back and Godfather II.

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