‘Die Hard’ Cut the Scene That Explains Its One Major Plot Hole
Die Hard is a great movie, even a great Christmas movie, but there’s one huge plot hole that’s plagued us for years: How did John McClane know that Hans Gruber was one of the terrorists when they’d only just met?
The scene in question: Gruber pretends to be one of the hostages the first time he meets McClane in person, and even adopts a bad American accent. But, for some reason, McClane isn’t fooled and manages to get away safely, but apart from some latent sixth sense (sorry), there’s nothing to indicate that McClane would have any way of knowing Gruber was a bad dude.
Apparently, according to screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, who spoke to fans at a 30th-anniversary screening of The Running Man (via Esquire), there’s a key sequence that was later cut from the movie that explains everything. Gruber and his men were originally supposed to escape via an ambulance in the garage, but when that escape was cut, they also cut out a couple of key shots that would explain how McClane could tell Gruber was one of the bad guys.
Originally, they get off the truck, the camera craned up, you saw them in a circle and Alan Rickman says, ‘Synchronize your watches.’ 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 ... 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 Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch. You see his eyes look at the watch. That’s how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.
So, the watch scene and the longer examination of the body were both cut because they wouldn’t have made sense in the movie, but because they were cut out, part of the movie still doesn’t make sense. Now we know! Here’s the scene where John McClane and Hans meet; you can see the watch clearly visible on Hans’ wrist the very first moment that McClane holds the gun on him. He knew it all along!