Study Guide

Die Hard Cunning and Cleverness

Cunning and Cleverness

If you just looked at the establishment law enforcement officers in Die Hard, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this movie is a moral parable about the consequences of being an idiot. Thank goodness for John McClane and Hans Gruber. They're both whip smart, just in totally different ways. It's those differing forms of intelligence that drive the plot of the movie forward, holding both their goals in tension. Where Gruber is cold and calculating, McClane is street smart, able to improvise. You can guess which brand of brains wins in the end.

Questions About Cunning and Cleverness

  1. What's McClane's smartest move in the movie? Gruber's? Which character do you think is smarter in the end?
  2. Why do you think the movie goes out of its way to portray the local law enforcement officers (except Powell of course) and even the FBI seem like oafish idiots?
  3. Who's the cleverest henchmen? What makes you say so?

Chew on This

This isn't a case of book smarts versus street smarts. It's a case of planning versus instinct. McClane triumphs because he trusts his gut. Gruber? Not so much.

The movie makes the LAPD look like idiots to show that the working class men—McClane and Powell—are the only ones who know what they're doing.