In 1990, the time was right. Moonlighting had come to its close and Bruce Willis was ready to become a major movie star. What better way to ensure that very eventuality than by starring in a little somethin'-somethin' called Die Hard 2?
Did it work? Well, as David Addison would say "Do bears bear? Do bees be?"
(That means Yes!)
That's not to say there wasn't a bit of skepticism out there. Die Hard wasn't exactly considered a repeatable formula (but boy were those naysayers wrong). Anticipating the audience reaction, Fox reclaimed the complaint by having cool John McClane quip "How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?" in the preview. But in a very real way, Die Hard 2 indeed does show us the same thing happening to the same guy all over again.
Bringing in up and coming action director Renny Harlin, producers Joel Silver and Charles Gordon sought to replicate their successes by replicating Die Hard. Again they brought in Steven E. de Souza (this time teamed with Doug Richardson) and again they commissioned a script based on a novel (albeit a novel that had NOTHING to do with Die Hard or Nothing Lasts Forever): Walter Wagner's 58 Minutes. Again William Atherton and Bonnie Bedelia are back (and are liking each other just as much as when we last saw them). Again terrorists strike with only John McClane there to stop them amid unhelpful cops and over-amped Government types.
Yep, Die Hard 2 is pretty much the same thing happening to the same guy again. But that guy is John Fucking McClane! And that same thing... is damned, damned fun to watch.
Jay Mick-See and sweet Holly have made the best of their reunion at Nakatomi Plaza to the point that John-John has actually taken that cop job in L.A. After a nonexistent credit sequence (all we get are the words "Die Hard 2" and that's all we need) we learn that John is visiting Holly's parents in Washington D.C. and is picking up sweet Holly from the Dulles airport in the hope of making this Christmas one of peace and hope and joy.
But that's not gonna happen, folks, seeing as how renegade Colonel Stuart (a buff and sinewy Bill Sadler) is up to less good this Christmas than the Grinch. It seems that South American Drug Lord Generalissimo Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) has made Stu-babe an offer that he can't possibly refuse and he's only too happy to seize the communications and controls of the Dulles International Airport to prevent the General's extradition to the good old You Ess of Aaaaaaaaaaay!
While Stuart doesn't realize that John McClane, the one man army who can take on an army, is waiting in the soon-to-be terminal Terminal, the Colonel has brought along his own original recipe, extra tasty crispy multi-man army, which includes Vondie Curtis-Hall, Robert Patrick and John Leguizamo. Well... well shit. Well Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!
Before you can say "Yippee Ki Yay, motherfucker!", McClane's already beaten the ever-lovin' crap out of two of them and is trying like mad to warn the cops. Let me tell you, Dennis Franz' Captain Carmine Lorenzo is every bit as sympathetic to Johnny Apple-BLEED as the last Police leader was. Things get nastier as Colonel Stuart and his gang of military misfits succeeds in seizing control... while "boughs of Holly" is still in the air... and her plane is low on fuel.
What follows is a desperate and kick-ass, yet still very familiar gamut throughout the whole of the airport (whether the places he's going actually exist in real life or not) during which he does more impossible things before the first plane lands than most people do at an airport throughout their entire layover. Luckily he's not totally alone this time either. Not totally hating McClane are Fred Dalton Thompson's damn-near presidential Trudeau, Art Evans' communication expert Leslie Barnes and eventually John Amos' Maj. Grant, who shows up just in time for those GOOD TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMES!
But what is John McClane without his remote sidekicks? Well... he's only the greatest supercop since Alex Murphy, but I digress. Helping Johnny-boy out every which way but loose are Tom Bower's damn-near custodial Marvin , Sheila McCarthy's newsworthy Sam Coleman and yes, oh yes, Reginald VelJohnson's kick ass guest star Sgt. Al Powell. I love this guy. Screw Urkel!
Make no mistake, if there are asses to be kicked, McClane and team are a-gonna kick 'em!!! And, naturally, that's going to lead to one hell of an explosive ending. One that, even I'll admit, is pretty horkin' unpredictable. However, the unpredictable moments are indeed woven into a tapestry of the familiar here. However, McTiernan's Die Hard was a positively nudge-nudge, wink-wink take on the action genre, letting the audience in on the in-joke, and never letting his (potentially ridiculous) film become too serious or too silly. Harlin's Die Hard 2, while nearly undeniably a fun (and good) movie, seems to make a number of excuses for de Souza's meandering plot (when a gun is needed a gun appears, when a fist fight is needed, said gun vanishes, when McClane needs to be waaaaaaaaaay across the airport, an underground tunnel is provided, when McClane needs to be slowed down, a road block springs up). In fact Die Hard 2 is so outlandish in places that it's almost a credit to Harlin for making this film work so well in spite of the script (which is fun, but ain't dat sma-ert).
No matter what kind of brains went into Die Hard 2, this is one prime action flick that is more than worth your time to watch. Sure it's not as great a balance of the smart and the unbelievable that the first film was, sure it's essentially a re-use of the formula that made the first film such a success, sure it's more of the same... but more of the same is more of a great same, and I wouldn't kick Die Harder out of the flower bed for eating aphids. Wow. That was bad... even for me. Why in the name of Quetzalcoatl did I try to write this damned thing under the influence of Brandy? The drink, not the ex-girlfriend! And why am I writing this while driving? Man, that's dangerous. And stupid!
Moving on... Hang on... there's a cop! Yep.. Not typing and driving... doo-di-doo... I see a red door and I want it... okay, he pulled over some other jackass. Anyway, in spite of its flaws, in spite of its inconceivable inventions, Die Hard2: Die Harder is still a very fun and fine film, worthy of the name Die Hard and worthy of at least (or most... brandy) Three and One Half Stars out of Five! I mean it. Man. I'm glad I'm not some mercenary with some internationally nefarious goal. I'd be NO match for John McClane. Or maybe I'd rub off on him. Maybe we'd become drinkin' buddies and he could lament how he meant to become President, but he ended up being an erstwhile New York Cop, and I could lament how I intended to be a great writer and College Professor, but now I'm an internet film critic with a day job as a manager of an IT department! Then we'd toast to a votre sante and freeze in time as the credits rolled and the laugh track kicked off, then after the grainy dude typing and throwing his page to the wind, we'd appear before the MTM logo and say "See you in the Next Reel!" and then a rerun of Newhart would come on and...
I'm sorry. I'll stop now. Have a good night, don't bite anybody and DIE HARD!
Herman Macgilicutty wept for there were no more worlds
for Herman Macgilicutty to conquer!
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Some written while I was SOBER!
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