HOLLY: Harry, it's Christmas Eve. Families, stockings? Chestnuts? Rudolf and Frosty? Any of these things ring a bell?
ELLIS: Actually I was thinking more mulled wine, a nice aged brie, roaring fireplace, you know what I'm saying?
See, Ellis's problem is that he's so successful in the business world, he thinks he can get whatever he wants in other parts of his life, too. In this case, he's greedy for a date with Holly. But hey, she's taken.
ELLIS: Show him the watch.
ELLIS: Well go on, show him! What are you, embarrassed? It's just a small token of appreciation for all of her hard work. It's a Rolex.
Ellis's corporate greed makes him assert power over Holly's accomplishments in the business world. Here, we think he's being pretty possessive. He knows McClane is Holly's estranged husband, and mentioning the watch is his way of staking his claim on Holly in front of John.
GRUBER: Ladies and gentlemen. Due to the Nakatomi Corporation's legacy of greed around the globe, they're about to be taught a lesson in the real use of power. You will be witnesses.
Liar, liar, designer pants on fire.
GRUBER: And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer. The benefits of a classical education.
It's fitting that the one time Gruber quotes a classic in the movie, it's about a historical figure so greedy, he had to conquer the known world.
GRUBER: Mr. Takagi, I'm not really interested in your computer. But I need the code key, because I am interested in the $640 million in negotiable bearer bonds that you have locked in your vault. And the computer controls the vault.
TAKAGI: You want money? What kind of terrorists are you?
GRUBER: Who said we were terrorists?
Oh, so this is what it's all about? When the audience finds out that Gruber's only after money, it shifts the dynamic of the movie. No longer is this a righteous political fight—it's all about the benjamins, baby. In some ways, this makes it easier for us to hate Gruber. The man is principle-less.
ELLIS: It's not what I want. It's what I can give you. Look, let's be straight, okay? It's obvious you're not some dumb schmuck up here to snatch some purses, am I right?
GRUBER: You're very perceptive.
ELLIS: I watch 60 Minutes, I say to myself, these guys are professional, they're motivated, they're happening, i.e they want something, huh? Now personally, I couldn't care less about your politics. Maybe you're pissed off at the camel jockeys, maybe it's the Hebes, Northern Ireland, it's none of my business. I figure you're here to negotiate, am I right?
GRUBER: You're amazing. You figured this all out already?
ELLIS: Hey, business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen. What's the difference?
When you're a greedy guy like Ellis, you think the solution to every problem is a business deal. And it's that mentality that gets the poor guy killed.
GRUBER: When they touch down, we'll blow the roof, they'll spend a month sifting through the rubble, and by the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach, earning 20%.
Ah, retirement for the criminal set. You'd think that since Gruber claims he's an "exceptional thief," he'd have a more interesting retirement plan. You know, something a bit more exciting than Boca Raton.
RICHARD THORNBURG: Look. You let me in right now, or I call the INS. Comprende?
Ol' Dick Thornburg's a different kind of greedy. He's not after the dough. He wants his fifteen minutes of local news fame. He's what we'd call an opportunist, and that's putting it politely. The fact that he's willing to send poor Paulina to the deportation station says it all.
HOLLY: After all your posturing, all your little speeches, you're nothing but a common thief.
GRUBER: I'm an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.
You tell him, Holly. We love how she sounds almost disappointed here. Like she expects something a little more, well, exceptional than mere armed robbery.
MCCLANE: So that's what this was all about? A f***ing robbery?
John finally learns what all this nonsense was about. And he's as disappointed as his wife to find out that Hans is just another robber—albeit one with some very impressive means.