- "Birds of a feather, flock together, so do pigs and swine. Rats and mice all have their chance, as will I have mine."
- ―Simon Gruber [src]
Simon Peter Gruber was a former National People’s Army colonel-turned-terrorist mastermind and the older brother of Hans Gruber. He is the main antagonist in Die Hard with a Vengeance, where he pretended to be seeking revenge against John McClane through a series of elaborate riddles and tasks, when this was really a distraction from a robbery of bullion in gold bullion from the New York Federal Reserve Bank. In East Germany, Simon was in charge of an infiltration unit where he trained German soldiers to speak English and mimic American accents. His work with the East German army likely caused the bitter sibling rivalry between the two brothers, as Hans was from West Germany, perhaps separated from Simon by differing political beliefs or the construction of the Berlin Wall or inner German border, which separated the two countries, possibly splitting the siblings up.
Simon has blond hair and brown eyes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation have dirt on Simon that describes him as an "...obscure colonel, East German army... ran an infiltration unit- the kind of thing the Nazis did at the Battle of the Bulge."
The only personal detail the FBI has on him for now is that GDR records show that Simon suffers from migraines and he goes by the name "Peter Krieg."
- "I didn't say "Simon says"."
- ―Simon playing "Simon Says". [src]
Simon begins his plan by blowing up a department store in New York City. While the NYPD are trying to deal with this act of terrorism, Simon phones police Inspector Walter Cobb, claiming responsibility for the bomb. He then tells Cobb that he wants to play a game of "Simon Says" with Lieutenant John McClane, or another bomb will go off. He instructs McClane to go to Harlem wearing a sign board that says "I Hate N*****s". The police drop McClane off in Harlem dressed only in the sign and his boxers. Before McClane can be attacked by a street gang, a local electrical store owner Zeus Carver intervenes and rescues him. The two return to the police headquarters. "Simon," annoyed that Carver has interfered with his "well laid plan," sends both Carver and McClane on a wild goose chase around New York City, telling them the location of bombs that will blow up if the two don't reach them and solve Simon's riddles.
The Federal Reserve Plan
- "I should have seen it coming a mile away. This was never about revenge, it was about a goddamn heist! "
- ―McClane when discovering Simon's true motives [src]
Simon is eventually revealed to be Simon Gruber, the older brother of Hans Gruber, whom McClane dropped off the 30th story of the Nakatomi Plaza. He has singled out McClane because of his involvement in the death of his brother, and at first it seems revenge is his primary motivation. It later becomes clear, however, that Simon shares his brother's pragmatism; He is not interested in terrorism and actually intends to steal $140 billion dollars worth of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve Bank. The bombs scattered throughout the city merely act as a distraction.
When the gold is stolen, and deposited in dump trucks, Simon's henchmen flee to Canada, while Simon remains behind with his personal guard. Simon informs the police that the gold is on a ship off Long Island, which he intends to blow up, thus distributing the gold across the seabed. However, the ship contains only scrap metal, while the gold is in the dump trucks heading to Canada. When McClane and Carver make an attack on the boat, they are captured and handcuffed to a pole, with the bomb intended to blow the ship sitting directly next to them. Simon reveals that whilst he disliked his brother, he will kill McClane anyway for repeatedly meddling with his plans and he had already intended to avenge the death of Hans ("There's a difference, you know, between not liking one's brother and not caring when some dumb Irish flatfoot drops him out of a window"). He then leaves for Canada with the rest of his henchmen, leaving McClane and Carver to die on the boat.
In Canada, Simon and his henchmen celebrate the successful heist, but are interrupted by the police (including McClane and Carver, who escaped the boat moments before it exploded) who find them due to an aspirin bottle Simon left McClane that had the name of the town they fled to on it. Simon and his girlfriend Katya were about to have violent sex. Whilst the soldiers leave to battle the police, Simon and Katya set off in a helicopter to kill McClane once and for all. With Katya piloting, Gruber shoots McClane's helicopter down with an M60 machine gun. As the pilot lands, McClane runs into the open, knowing that Simon only wants to kill him. McClane hides behind parked cars for cover against the bullets as Simon flies around again he aims at McClane. But before Simon can kill him, McClane shoots a transformer on a power line, sending a live wire into the rotating blades of the helicopter, electrocuting Simon, while shooting at McClane, and Katya, who was ordered to retreat, and causing them to crash the helicopter into a pylon and engulfing them in a fireball. At the same time, his men are arrested by the police and the gold recovered, ruining his plan. He and Katya are the last of his gang to lose their lives to McClane.
Simon is portrayed as highly intelligent, manipulative and calculating. Of all the villains in the series, Simon is the one who got the closest to achieving his goal. Like his brother, he is very sophisticated and savvy which makes it easy for him to preserve people. In the end, Simon's one downfall is his sadistic pleasure in toying with McClane. This eventually leads to his defeat and becomes the one problem in his near-perfect plan. While part of Simon's plan was to exact revenge upon McClane for killing his brother, it's shown later on that he wasn't very fond of Hans anyway. When McClane is captured aboard the ship, Simon agrees and laughs alongside McClane when he calls his brother an 'asshole'. He later explains that: "There's a difference between not liking one's brother, and not caring when some dumb Irish flatfoot drops him out of a window.", indicating that avenging his brother's death was bonus to him.
Simon is a military man and has little concern with killing to achieve his goals. Unlike the other villains in the series, however, Simon doesn't bother with killing if he can find any way around it. He has his men use tranquilizers to knock out everyone guarding the Federal Reserve bank and when McClane discovers that he never placed a bomb in a school, Simon explains: "I'm a soldier, not a monster", suggesting that even he couldn't let himself go so far as to potentially kill (or even put them in imminent danger) a building full of children to achieve his goals.
However, while he never directly kills any one over the course of the film, if McClane hadn't tried to get rid of the bomb on the subway train, the bomb would likely have gone off and killed all of the train's passengers, maybe even everyone at the station. It's likely that Simon had planned for McClane to dispose of the bomb, however, as traffic would be impossible to beat in order to be there in time, and also, if he hadn't detonated the subway bomb, Simon and his team wouldn't have been able to reach the money they were after.
Like Hans, Simon has a very casual reaction to death (as seen when Katya kills one of the security guards and, later on, Targo). Simon is still a very socially pleasant man considering his role as an antagonist and he often laughs and jokes around with McClane, even giving him some aspirin to help with his headache, which eventually (unbeknownst to him) contributes to his defeat.
For Simon Gruber quotes, click here.
Behind the Scenes
- Similarly to his brother, Hans, Simon creates a facade of very vague ideology for his operation in order to distract the authorities. He announces that he intends to blow up and sink the gold on which the world's leading economies are built, leveling the economic "playing field" (which implies very left-wing motivations). This is a complete decoy; the true intention of Simon and almost all of his troops is to steal the gold for themselves. The only exception appears to be Mathias Targo, who seems to believe that the destruction of the gold had really been the plan. McClane, however, remembering the deceptions of Hans, anticipates that the announcement is a decoy, remarking "I know the man, I know the family".
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