Die Harder: Die Hard 2

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“Oh man, I can’t fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”

How indeed? Well true simple answer is of course that after John McClane had single handily reinvented the action hero and put people muscles like Stallone and Schwarzenegger out of business, it was only inevitable that a sequel should follow.  However where to begin?

Another book was adapted, this time it was 58 Minutes by Walter Wager, the story of terrorists (remember when they were good fodder for bad guys?) taking over an airport while the hero’s wife is stuck in a plane overhead. He then has fifty eight minutes to save the day. Die Hard 2 takes that plot and adds in some extra spice relating to a General Esperanza, a drug lord and the dictator of Val Verde (yes, the same Val Verde from Commando and Predator), coming in to the airport. The terrorists intend to take control of the airport and extract Esperanza. However McClane gets in the way.

As sequels go Die Hard 2 does fall into the familiar trap of being essentially the same film, but in a different place. It even has some cameos from the first film that bog it down slightly (particularly the awkward shoe-horning of William Atherton’s Richard Thornburg being on the plane with McClane’s wife). However what really makes it work is that it has a brilliant action director at his absolute peak (Renny Harlin) and Bruce Willis when he really gave a shit, coming off of the personal disappointment of Hudson Hawk (a project that he had a great deal of involvement in) and obviously wanting to prove he could still cut it.

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As it’s a Die Hard film, McClane is working alone again, however rather than being a victim of circumstance, McClane is a victim of bureaucracy. McClane is deemed an interference and ostracised from the investigation and therefore is back on his own, talking to himself and taking the bad guys on one by one.  Die Hard 2 has some truly excellent action sequences that are perfectly staged and shot. The annex sky walk ambush springs to mind as an excellent example of a Die Hard shoot out, with McClane once again springing from a air duct and firing off thirty shorts when only one would do. However the subplot of McClane’s wife on the plane is particularly clumsy and would probably service the film better if it was just clips from the first film, rather than this awkward and pointless exchange. Talking of awkward, one thing that does hobble DH2 is the cheesy, stilted and clumsy dialogue that seems to occur between every action sequence. It’s macho script writing 101 and doesn’t seem to be overly burdened by a sense of irony.

William Sadler is excellent as the merciless Colonel Stuart. It was undoubtably a poisoned chalice of a part when you consider how incredible a villain Alan Rickman was in the first film. However he handles himself very well has some really memorable moments (such as the cold downing of a passenger plane). Stuart’s nude introduction was an idea of Renny Harlin, who later described it as an “effective and unusual way to introduce a character”. He was right. I can’t imagine many other films introducing their main antagonist doing martial arts in the nude, well apart from an On The Buses film maybe.

While not a perfect film by any means, Die Hard 2 remains a strong sequel that offers so much more than just a hollow retread of the original. It offers very strong action, really memorable set pieces and the last Die Hard film where John acted alone.

Willis later said that Die Hard 2 is his least favourite of the Die Hard films (probably while he was lying about Die Hard 4 being the best), which basically speaks volumes of his current state of mind when you consider the forth and fifth entries. What is amazing is that at the time of Die Hard 2 being made, Willis was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight and basically laughed off the idea of any further Die Hard films. How things can change, Bruce.

Die Hard 2 was also dubbed for TV (as there is a lot of “fuck” in it) and it is one of the worst out there

Originally posted 2014-02-04 16:27:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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