It's an entirely different kind of flying altogether
Die Hard 2 is directed by Renny Harlin and stars Bruce Willis who reprises his role as John McClane. Bonnie Bedelia also returns to reprise her role as Holly McClane, and the film also stars William Atherton, Franco Nero, William Sadler, and John Amos.
Pretend for just a second that it's before the year 1990 and you are somehow involved in the making of Die Hard 2. If you're Renny Harlin, Bruce Willis, or anyone else on the crew, there is one thing you should be required to do: accept the fact that the movie isn't going to be as good as the original. No one's knowledge of action movies is complete without John McTiernan's Die Hard, a film whose importance to the action genre is unprecedented and a film that has paved the way for a countless number of cheap imitators. A film with so much success behind it is going to spawn a few sequels, and that is very much the case with Die Hard. Now back to the matter at hand: the kind of success that Die Hard achieved happens once in a blue moon, so there could not have been any conceivable way that Renny Harlin could duplicate the same kind of success, especially not just a few years after Die Hard's initial release.
Well, if we're looking at just box office returns, then everything I just mentioned becomes a moot point, because Die Hard 2 nearly doubled Die Hard's worldwide box office gross, taking in $240 million worldwide, while Die Hard grossed a little over $140 million. John McClane isn't doing anything radically different in this second outing, but that wasn't going to drive Die Hard fans away, and since the movie went on to gross even more than its predecessor, if you're Renny Harlin, what more could you ask for?
Two years after the first film, John McClane is waiting on Christmas Eve at an airport in Washington for his wife Holly to arrive from Los Angeles. Once again, McClane finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the airport happens to be the target of a group of terrorists led by former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel William Stuart (William Sadler). The terrorists set up a base of operations at a church near the airport, and they hack into the airport's air traffic control systems, cutting off all contact to the planes and turning off all runway lights. The terrorists are intending to rescue General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), a drug lord who is being flown to the U.S. to face trial for drug trafficking charges. Furthermore, the terrorists demand a cargo plane that will allow them to escape out of the country with Esperanza in tow. Knowing that Holly is stuck on one of the planes that can't land, McClane sets out to combat the terrorists.
The plot of Die Hard 2 isn't a total copy of the first film, but it does re-serve a lot of the first film's meat and potatoes: John McClane combating terrorists, his wife put into a dangerous scenario, and any and all police officers without the last name of McClane proving incapable of putting a dent in the terrorists' plans. McClane isn't by his complete lonesome this time around, though given the way that his help proves to be no help at all, you might as well say that he basically is on his own again. McClane has several verbal spats with airport police Captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz), the two having opposing ideas for how to stop the terrorists. McClane's only real help comes in the form of the airport's janitor named Marvin (Tom Bower, looking like Mark Rylance's evil twin brother), who helps McClane figure out a series of shortcuts throughout the airport.
- Die Hard 2 delivers more high-octane action that has plenty of bang, even if there is a dollop of over-the-top ridiculousness. McClane comes up with some gruesome ways to kill some of the terrorists, not solely relying on gunfire all the time to get the job done. Nothing, however, takes the cake from what McClane does right at the end of the film, and hell if you think I'm going to spoil it here. The action comes in nice little spurts spread out over the film's 123 minutes, and it all adds up to some nice, escapist entertainment.
- Funny how I recently did a review for Mission: Impossible II, a movie that suffers from some bizarre dialogue. Die Hard 2 also suffers from some strange dialogue, such as Colonel Stuart exclaiming how McClane wasn't able to utilize the "element of chance", whereas I think screenwriters Steven E. de Souza and Doug Richardson meant McClane wasn't able to utilize the the element of surprise. This line is spoken during a scene in which McClane is launching a surprise attack on the terrorists, the key word being surprise. There are also times when the dialogue isn't necessarily confusing, but more so tongue-in-cheek, the movie sort of self-aware that its hero is going through the same thing all over again. McClane asks himself, "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?" I'm guessing this kind of dialogue is one of the movie's ways of being funny, but it's more eye-rolling than laugh-inducing, because it's like Renny Harlin and the screenwriters are secretly telling us that they are fully aware they did not at all come up with an original product, but they don't care in the slightest.
It didn't dawn on me the very first time that I watched Die Hard 2 how much it can seem like a retread of the first movie. It doesn't matter that the movie takes place in a different location, with a new group of terrorists who have a different kind of goal: the similarities are still there. Despite this, Die Hard 2 remains a satisfying sequel that brings more exciting action set pieces and another well-rounded Bruce Willis performance. Sure, there are problems with the plot and the screenplay, but if you want to get the best experience that you can from this movie, it's best not to think about them too much.
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