Die Hard 2 (1990)
Directed by: Renny Harlin | 124 minutes | action, adventure, thriller | Actors: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, William Sadler, Reginald VelJohnson, Franco Nero, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Fred Dalton Thompson, Tom Bower, Sheila McCarthy, Don Harvey, Tony Ganios, Peter Nelson, Robert Patrick Michael Cunningham, John Leguizamo, Tom Verica, John Costelloe, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Mark Boone Junior, Ken Baldwin, Michael Francis Clarke, Steve Pershing, Tom Everett, Sherry Bilsing, Karla Tamburrelli, Jeanne Bates, Colm Meaney, Stephen Gregory Foster , James Lancaster, Amanda Hillwood, Felicity Waterman, Robert Costanzo
After the great success of ‘Die Hard’ in 1988, a sequel was inevitable. Director Renny Harlin replaced Part 1 (and 3) director John McTiernan when the latter committed to film The Hunt for Red October. What the Finnish-born Harlin does is inevitable for action movie sequels: everything has to be more spectacular, with more explosions and more and bloodier shootings. In that respect, the subtitle “Die Harder” is certainly appropriate, because a lot of bad guys (and unfortunately also innocent victims) die horribly. One of the strongest points of the film is again the presence of Bruce Willis as agent John McClane. Despite the fact that he is the hero of the film, he has the appearance of an anti-hero at the same time. It is his vulnerability that appeals to the viewer, even if this apparent vulnerability decreases with each subsequent part, because the most dangerous situations manage to survive without too much damage. Willis was again given the space to improvise and he again throws out the necessary one-liners, including the standard cry “Yippie-kay-yay… ”.
McClane unintentionally gets in a mess when he comes to pick up his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) from the airport and he bumps into a bunch of suspicious figures. A shooting and a death later, it becomes clear what is going on. A pair of ex-servicemen led by a Pentagon colonel named Stuart (William Sadler) set out to free an imprisoned drug dealer and ex-dictator General Esperanza (Franco Nero). To this end, they take control of the control tower to allow Esperanza’s plane to land undisturbed. McClane must pull out all the stops to keep hundreds of airline passengers, his wife and himself alive. The arrival of an anti-terror group led by Major Grant (John Amos) to take on Stuart’s men seems to turn into a battle.
Despite all the spectacular action and the witty comments from Willis, ‘Die Hard 2’ lacks some of the ingenuity of the first part, which has now reached the status of a classic. This can partly be explained by the set-up of both films. Where part 1 mainly emphasized the (paradoxical) limited space in a new skyscraper by making it as an enclosed space and letting McClane (Bruce Willis) crawl through all kinds of corridors, elevator shafts and ventilation ducts, here there is a much larger surface, with several big sets and lots of explosions. The other minus is the bad guy. William Sadler looks frightening as the corrupt Colonel Stuart, but he doesn’t come close to Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in Part 1. Sadler lacks the charisma of Rickman, who expressed his devious plans with such pleasure in his melodious, sneering voice. . While Sadler’s stiff and well-trained soldier stands his ground in combat and is determinedly ruthless, his role is nowhere truly memorable.
Although the plot is more grandiose than in the previous part, there are still some holes here and there, which may not immediately stand out due to the rumbling action, but still play with the intelligence of the viewer. The most glaring flaw in the plot is to have General Esperanza guarded by only one soldier. This artifice is very transparent and amateurish and should not have been made. Apart from that, ‘Die Hard 2’ is top entertainment and a fine action film, although the film can’t quite match its predecessor. Nice to see several familiar faces, such as Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) and reporter Richard Thornburg (William Atherthon). Also notice John Leguizamo and Robert Patrick in small roles – and former Senator and Republican presidential candidate Fred Dalton Thompson as the airport manager.