Die Hard changed action movies forever. John McTiernan‘s seminal 1988 action thriller remains one of the best action movies of all time, a precision piece of genre filmmaking that’s firing on every possible cylinder, from direction to script to performance. So it should come as no surprise that when the film hit theaters (and earned four Oscar nominations), suddenly every studio that wasn’t 20th Century Fox needed to get their hands on a blue collar hero of their own, lock him up with a team of terrorists, and send him on an impossible odds mission to save the day. Which means we’ve seen a whole lot of copycats in the decades since (there’s a reason “Die Hard on a [Fill in the Blank] has become a running gag), but while some of them are obvious soulless copies, some are actually pretty damn fantastic or at least super fun films crafted in the tradition of the great American action movie.
Hell, filmmakers are still riffing on Die Hard and if you needed any proof, take a look at your local cineplex this weekend, where Dwayne Johnson will be doing his best Bruce Willis in Skyscraper on the week of Die Hard‘s 30th anniversary. In honor of the three decade mark, I’m looking back at my favorite action movies that basically just ripped off Die Hard, but made it look good anyway.