Die Hard, aka The Greatest Christmas Movie of All Time, delivered on all accounts. As the 1988 Bruce Willis action hit remains a cult classic 29 years later. Next to the late Alan Rickman, the feature spawned a franchise that regrettably lost it's way. But don't let that overshadow the masterpiece created by filmmaker John McTiernan.
Now screenwriter Steven E. de Souza has come out to admit that the movie could have taken on a slightly alternate twist by linking all 12 of the German terrorists. Attending the 30th-anniversary screening of The Running Man, the scribe remarked that the group was supposed to be linked by the exact same watch, a clue that John McClane (Willis) would catch on to, being the bad ass cop that he is.
Useful Plot Point or Lazy Product Placement?
Almost as though they were creating the first and scariest version of the Power Rangers, de Souza outlined how the plot point was going to be executed.
“Originally, they get off the truck, the camera craned up, you saw them in a circle and Alan Rickman says, ‘Synchronize your watches,’” de Souza remarked. “They all put their arms out in a circle with the camera moving down and they all had the same Tag Heuer watch. If you notice, the first guy Bruce kills almost by accident going down the steps, he searches the body, looks at the IDs.”
As McClane casually knocks off each villain with precision, the watches were intended to be the big give away.
“He steals the cigarettes which is a laugh. He looks at the watch which gets another laugh because you’re thinking he might steal the watch. As he kills each guy, he notices they all had the same watch. When he talks to Dwayne Robinson, he says, ‘I think these guys are professionals. Their IDs are too good. There’s no labels on their clothes and they all have the same watch.’”
No Ambulance, No Watches - One Switch Leads To Domino Effect
de Souza complicated the issue in the last week of production, inserting a part where Gruber’s crew planned to escape in an ambulance. Yet there was one small problem. No such scene existed in the first phase of production and because of this, the whole concept was binned.
“(Director) John (McTiernan) says to the editor, ‘Get the scissors in there. Cut as soon as you can when they get off the truck so we don’t see there’s no ambulance.’ Now without ‘Synchronize your watches’ all of these moments where Bruce looks at these guys’ watches makes no sense.”
The infamous Willis-Rickman scene where the two meet though does have a nod to this sequence that never was, as the writer argues it was the watch all along that gave his identity away.
“When Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch,” de Souza said. “You see his eyes look at the watch. That’s how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.”