Daniel DiManna
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The ‘Die Hard’ Ambulance Paradox: An Over-Analysis

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A super-complicated series of math formulas
Prepare to use your brains. This is gonna get weird…
Photo: geralt via CC

In a previous article on The News Wheel, I shed some light on an infamous continuity faux pas from the action classic Die Hard. As many fans of the movie know, its chaotic production resulted in a moment in which an ambulance drives out of the back of the bad guys’ truck. The problem? We’d already gotten a look into the back of the truck earlier in the film, and there was no ambulance. Despite already discussing the behind-the-scenes reasoning for this mistake, I must admit I’m not entirely satisfied. The error makes sense from a film-production standpoint, but how is it possible within the fictional universe of the film itself? It’s time to dive into what I’m calling the Die Hard “Ambulance Paradox.”

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Exploring the ‘Die Hard’ Ambulance Paradox

Before we get started, I think it best to elucidate upon my thought process and methodology. Yes, we are discussing a real-world continuity mistake in a film that has a real-world explanation. But if we abandon that explanation and treat the world of the film as a real, self-contained universe, we’re left with a conundrum that defies logic. That ambulance had to come from somewhere, and an explanation must exist somewhere in the film’s universe. It might be a silly thing to dedicate brain space to, but it’s also fun.

With that out of the way, it’s time to start theorizing. Written below is a small but thought-provoking list of possible solutions to the “Ambulance Paradox” that are worth considering. They range from mostly ridiculous to entirely bonkers and nonsensical. But remember, it’s all in good fun.

The truck is longer than we think: When the bad guys arrive at Nakatomi Tower, we get a pretty good look at the truck they’re driving. It doesn’t look that long, and we do see most of its insides when they reach their destination. But maybe its all about perspective; maybe the truck is longer than it looks on camera. Maybe the truck has a false wall that separates the ambulance from the bad guys. Unlikely, but worth considering.

It’s a different truck: It’s time to open up a fresh can of Occam’s Razor on this paradox. If you’re unfamiliar with Occam’s Razor, it simply means that simple explanations tend to be the correct ones. In this situation, the simplest explanation is that the truck with the ambulance is somehow not the same truck that deposited Alan Rickman and his cronies at the tower. Somehow, between scenes, that truck took off and a new, identical one holding the ambulance showed up, parked in the same place, and waited for the ending. It’s not like Argyle would’ve noticed the switch; he’s not known for his attentiveness.

The ambulance was assembled in the truck: Perhaps the ambulance was in pieces in the back of the truck, and someone stayed behind to assemble it. Maybe it was split into three or four smaller parts, and then put together while the tower was being seized. I’m not sure where the parts were when we looked into the back of the truck, though. This theory might need some workshopping.

An Einstein-Rosen Bridge: The time for simple explanations is now well and truly gone; let’s get crazy. What if what we see in the movie is true, and there really was no ambulance in the truck? What if the ambulance was somewhere far away, waiting for the moment to move in for a quantum-mechanical attack? Translation: Alan Rickman had an honest-to-goodness wormhole in the back of that truck. It opened, the ambulance drove through it, and then it closed again. It’s an elegant solution, but poses far more questions than it answers.

Pym Particles are involved: Alright, hear me out on this one. What if, by some crazy coincidence, Die Hard takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Think about it: Die Hard was released — and presumably takes place — in 1988. At this same time in the MCU, Hank Pym is operating as the first incarnation of Ant-Man, a superhero who can shrink himself and various objects down to tiny sizes using Pym Particles. In the first two Ant-Man films, we see vehicles getting shrunk all the time. Could it be that Alan Rickman and his gang had a bottle or two of these particles on hand? Is it a coincidence that a year later in the MCU, in 1989, Hank quits the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization out of fear that his particles could be used for evil purposes? I think not.

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Which of these theories, if any, do you consider to be the least implausible? Do you have a better explanation for the Die Hard Ambulance Paradox? Let me know below!