Die Hard 2

Directed By: Renny Harlin

Starring: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Sadler, Art Evans, Dennis Franz, Reginald VelJohnson, and John Amos

What are the chances that the same thing would happen to the same guy twice?  That's the question we end up asking ourselves in Renny Harlin's Die Hard 2, the follow-up to the 1988 smash hit starring a young Bruce Willis.  While this sounds awesome on paper, I wish the same guy would have directed the film.  As you may know, Die Hard director John McTiernan left the franchise but returned for Die Hard With a Vengeance later in the 90's.  For the time being, we were left with Die Hard 2, a failed attempt at recreating the same magic of its predecessor with the same formula.

It's Christmas Eve, and our favorite detective John McClane is at Dulles International Airport awaiting Holly's (Bonny Bedelia) flight from Los Angeles.  It's been two years since the hostage situation at Nakatomi Plaza, and the McClanes have decided to come to DC this Christmas.  McClane seems to find something to do at the airport while waiting for Holly to land when he follows a couple of suspicious guys into a baggage area and gets into a bloody gunfight.  After he learns they are mercenaries, McClane suspects that there is a larger plot at work here at Dulles and reports his concerns to airport police Captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz).  Lorenzo doesn't take him seriously.  However, Lorenzo and his boss Leslie Barnes (Art Evans) begin to reconsider when Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) shuts down the airport and any technologies they have to communicate with the pilots aboard inbound aircraft. 

Stuart's agenda is to rescue General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), a drug lord being brought to the United States to answer for his crimes.  He warns airport security not to get in his way.  Otherwise, passengers aboard planes hovering nearby will pay for their sins.  Meanwhile, Holly is stuck aboard one of these nearby planes with journalist Richard Thornburg (William Atherton), the reporter who jeopardized her life at Nakatomi Plaza by revealing her identity as McClane's wife to Hans Gruber and the world on television.

While Die Hard 2 is definitely an enjoyable flick, it in no way reaches the heights of its predecessor.  Renny Harlin tries to recreate all the thrills that John McTiernan did in the original, but it just doesn't work.  The film is plagued by several problems, namely the fact that the only competent good guy is McClane himself.  William Sadler's baddie Colonel Stuart simply does not compare to Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber.  With fewer thrills and less A-list talent, Die Hard 2 is just a generic action movie.

Renny Harlin tries to do everything that John McTiernan did in the original Die Hard.  A criminal that seems to be a terrorist takes over a facility and endangers the lives of many, including McClane's wife Holly.  McClane is the only guy to catch onto these criminals and is waging a side war against law enforcement.  McClane sneaks around basements, crawls through air ducts, and climbs elevators.  It's even Christmas Eve.  This is all too familiar and all too unoriginal.  Harlin really just changes the setting of Die Hard and adds planes in this sequel.  That's hardly a worthy attempt at following up the greatest action movie of all time.  All in all, Die Hard 2 is one stale film.

Reprising his role as feisty New York detective John McClane, Bruce Willis is once again firing on all cylinders.  He's down to earth.  He's charismatic.  He's badass.  While Willis is doing everything right, everything around him is all wrong.  The most potent example of this in the movie is the reality that McClane is the only smart protagonist.  The airport police are a bunch of bumbling buffoons who have no idea how to handle a security crisis in a rational way.  They stay on McClane's case and do little to confront the actual problems at hand.  It doesn't help that most of these cops play into the negative stereotypes about law enforcement being lazy and incompetent.  For the good guys in Die Hard 2, common sense is essentially an endangered species.

While the protagonists are plagued by incompetence, the antagonists are plagued by inferiority.  William Sadler's Colonel Stuart runs a tight operation, but he's no Hans Gruber.  Sadler offers a straightforward villain with very little personality.  Admittedly, he is a little more malicious than Hans and gives the Dulles airport staff plenty of "lessons".  However, Sadler is just not that colorful and in no way, shape, or form does he continue the legacy established by his predecessor Alan Rickman.  He's a bland villain.  The same can be said for John Amos and Franco Nero who likewise don't bring that much to the film.

Die Hard 2 is an enjoyable movie.  There are plenty of explosions, thrills, and laughs.  The film just pales in comparison to the original.  It's just a generic 90’s action movie.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.  Die Hard 2 gets a strong 0.06% rating.