STARRINGBruce Willis - John McClane
Bonnie Bedelia - Holly McClane
William Sadler - Colonel Stuart
Dennis Franz - Captain Carmine Lorenzo
Fred Dalton Thompson - Trudeau
John Amos - Major Grant
Year - 1990
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
In 1988, Bruce Willis took the action world by the balls with the mega-hit DIE HARD. While Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were still considered action icons, Mr. Willis showed that normal looking guys can kick some ass too. After the success of DIE HARD, imitators started popping up, trying to match the style of the new wave of action. Eventually due to its success, a sequel was made 2 years later to continue the story of John McClane. Was it necessary? No. But John McClane was a character that deserved a franchise. But would the film be good enough to continue the legacy of Mr. McClane, or would it be just another imitator added to the list?
Taking place at an airport in Washington D.C., John McClane (Bruce Willis) waits for his wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), to land around Christmas time [yes, again]. However, a crazed U.S. soldier named Stuart (William Sadler) is heading a terrorist plot to free a Noriega-type leader named General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), who is being flown to D.C. to be taken into custody. Because of this, Holly's plane runs late and McClane plans to stop Colonel Stuart from successfully achieving his goal of destroying the airport and air tower to get what he wants. Of course, McClane is seen as crazy by airport security Captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz) and airport manager Trudeau (Fred Thompson), who believe that McClane is causing trouble. Meanwhile, Holly is stuck in the same place as jerk reporter Richard Thornburg (William Atherton), as her plane begins to lose fuel as it tries to land safely.
Here's a good example of film sequelitis. Bigger explosions. More gunplay and blood. More characters that are hardly developed. It's also a retread of the previous DIE HARD, except this one takes place at an airport. But McClane is again stuck with a black ally, crawling through basements and vents like before, and getting his ass kicked by terrorists just to save his wife and country again. If I wanted to see this film, I'd watch the much better original version of it. DIE HARD 2 is just a case of deja vu, but the second time is not as good as the first.
Renny Harlin [who would directed the much better CLIFFHANGER and, recently, THE COVENANT] does a good job keeping up with the action. The shots are clear and we get to see the action up close as before. There's also some suspense and drama built in. Not a bad job at all. However, the plot is really unclear [why was this Stuart guy trying to save General Esperanza again?] and the one-liners and humor is nowhere the level of its predecessor. It's a well-produced film and a better-than-average action film, but a lot of plot devices seem forced. Lack of character development among the new characters doesn't help either. They're pretty much stereotypes of people and things we expect from action films.
The acting was okay, not as good as the first one. Bruce Willis IS John McClane at this point, though his performance was alot better in the original. Unlike the original where McClane is caught in a not-so-everyday pickle and has to rely on his smarts to stay alive and save the day, DIE HARD 2's McClane is a parody of himself. He trash talks too much. His one-liners are forced and not even that funny most of the time. He dodges bullets and explosions like he was Spider-Man. The freshness of the character is gone because he's doing the same exact thing as before [although it's a different location]. However, McClane is still a cool character and Willis does maintain that charm he possesses in all of his films, so it's not a total loss. I don't blame Bruce for the problem, I blame the script.
Bonnie Bedelia as Holly McClane is useless here. Sure, she has some good scenes trash-talking and tasering jerk reporter Richard on the plane, but that's basically it. She's just a prop/plot device used to give McClane a reason to do what he does in the film. She's the Mary Jane Watson of DIE HARD films - stuck as a damsel-in-distress so the hero can save her. Nothing more, nothing less. Honestly, I don't think she should have been in the film period. Wouldn't have really mattered to me, actually.
William Sadler as Colonel Stuart was alright. He's probably the lamest villain of all DIE HARD films [nowhere the level of Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber]. He's not intimidating or even interesting. He's a messed up soldier betraying his country for whatever reason [I was never really sure of the reason]. He likes to do naked exercises [too much info maybe?]. Without his goons, he wasn't really a threat. If he had some dose of personality, I would have been interested in why he became a jerk and wanted to terrorize people. But he was never really developed. He was just there to get in McClane's way. Sadler did an okay job with what he was given [he sure likes looking pissed off a lot], but he wasn't a menacing villain to say the least.
The other characters were okay too. Dennis Franz played the asshole cop like he always does [typecast anyone?], Fred Thompson played a tough leader of the airport [Presidential preparation?], Franco Nero was decent as the foreign General [why was the Latin guy evil? I take offense to that!], and John Amos was good as Major Grant [although his character confused me when he switched sides - what was the reason for that anyway?]. That's why you need character development, people! Help a brother out!
There are also cameos by Reginald VelJohnson as Al [love the guy but he was only onscreen for 5 minutes - guess getting pissed off by Steve Urkel took up the rest of his time], a pre-T-1000 Robert Patrick [love that guy], and a young John Leguizamo as Stuart's goons.
I have to admit that the action was pretty cool in this film. Pretty good fight scenes and shoot-outs. Decent helicopter chase towards the terrorist plane. Snow-ski chase was cool too. And that European plane explosion - good God that was pretty awesome [and it made the villains a lot more evil too]. Probably one of the better explosions I've ever seen on film. No wonder they never showed this film on planes. Just like in the original, the stunts and SFX of DIE HARD 2 deserve two thumbs up.
THE FINAL HOWL
DIE HARD 2 isn't in the same league as DIE HARD. But it's still a watchable film with some pretty good action and Bruce Willis kicking ass and getting his ass kicked [he's really the only reason to watch]. DIE HARDER is the worst of the 4 DIE HARD films, but it's still a lot better than most action films in the genre. So if you liked DIE HARD, give this one a watch. Just don't expect anything new or better. Yippee-Ki-Yay Motherf**ker!