REVIEW – ‘Die Hard 2: Die Harder’

Written by J.T. Johnson

3-12-stars

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: June 29, 1990
DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Oliver Wood
WRITERS: Steven E. de Souza, Doug Richardson
MUSIC: Michael Kamen

After the monumental success of “Die Hard”, it was no surprise that 20th Century Fox would want to make a sequel. Not unlike the first film, “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” can trace its roots back to the written word. The film’s script is a loose adaptation of “58 Minutes” by Walter Wager.

The film differs slightly in that the book is about a cop who must stop the terrorist within 58 minutes before his wife’s plane crashes. And, of course, the characters of the book are adapted to those from the original film.

Bruce Willis returns again in the role of Detective John McClane. This time, the reluctant hero finds himself at Washington Dulles International Airport awaiting the arrival of his wife’s (Bonnie Bedelia) plane. Soon, a group of terrorists led by former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) take over the airport and have complete control over all the planes stuck in the air above.

Their goal is to rescue a drug lord and dictator caught by U.S. forces who is being flown back to the states to face his crimes. The terrorists think that they have everything figured out until McClane gets in their way in order to save his wife. In the meantime, the employees at the airport rush to take back control of their equipment in order to rescue the planes that are low on fuel.

While this sequel is another high-octane, action-packed film, it fails to meet up with the original and beyond the fifth movie, it is a weaker entry in the series. However, it is not a bad movie. This is solely because of Willis as McClane. With roles such as these, the audience finds themselves in that rare territory where a character alone can save a film. Had there been a solely original hero in this film, it would have fallen apart. With McClane’s signature humor, determination and a sense of bad luck, the film survives.

With every good hero comes a good bad guy. Alan Rickman turned in one of the coolest performances when he played Hans Gruber in the first “Die Hard” film. This time, it’s Sadler’s turn as the menacing Colonel who would crash a plane just to prove a point. While he is a more vicious character, though, Stuart is just not as strong as Hans from the first movie. Sadler does his best, but he can’t make the character more than the two-dimensional cutout that he is.

Of course, if that villain is not enough, there is another in the form of Ramon Esperanza, the drug lord Stuart is trying to save. Again, he is nothing more than a cardboard character. The nation was knee deep into the whole D.A.R.E. thing and the War on Drugs was a hot issue. It wouldn’t be too hard to assume why this character is even here at all.

While the film contains a shaky story, the action in the film is fun to watch and bigger than ever when compared to the first film. Also, there are plenty of humorous moments. Most of them contain McClane, but there are even some on the plane as McClane’s wife Bonnie must once again deal with William Atherton’s sleazy reporter character, Richard Thornberg. Also, if one were to look closer at the terrorists, he/she would see early roles for both actors John Leguizamo and Robert Patrick.

While the film fails to reach the same impact as the first one, there is still a lot of good fun to be had here. Willis and the rest of the cast are banking on the audience believing that this guy is just having another bad Christmas (McClane even acknowledges this when asks humorously, “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”) While McClane may not enjoy his seemingly endless bad luck, the audience is sure to enjoy his pain.

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