Directed By: Renny Harlin
Starring: Bruce Willis, William Atherton, Bonnie Bedelia
Tag line: "They say lightning never strikes twice... They were wrong"
Trivia: The scenes filmed in Denver had to have snow machines brought from a local ski resort with truck loads of ice every night (during the day it would all melt)
I’ll be the first to admit that Die Hard 2 is not as good a movie as Die Hard. But for some reason, I like it anyway. In fact, I find it almost as entertaining as the now-classic original!
It’s Christmas Eve, and L.A. cop John McClane (Bruce Willis), a few years removed from his adventure at the Nakatomi building, is at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport to pick up his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), whose plane is set to land in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, her flight (as well as dozens of others) is about to be delayed indefinitely. That’s because Dulles’s air traffic center has been commandeered by Col. Stuart (William Sadler) and his top-notch army of mercenaries, who’ve tapped into the airport’s mainframe computer and set up their own command post, which they’ve hidden inside an abandoned church.
A respected officer in the U.S. military, Stuart intends to free Gen. Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), a staunch anti-Communist and the former leader of a Central American nation who’s being extradited to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking. With the plane carrying Esperanza on its way to Dulles, Stuart requests both the General’s immediate release once he lands and a fully-fueled 747 to fly them all to safety. If his demands aren’t met, he’ll keep the planes circling overhead until they run out of fuel. On paper, it may have looked like the perfect plan, but one thing Stuart didn’t count on was John McClane. With his wife in jeopardy, McClane does everything he can to find Stuart and bring him down, knowing full well that if he fails, hundreds won’t live to see Christmas morning.
As it was with the 1988 original, John McClane tends to rub some people the wrong way in Die Hard 2, chief among them being Capt. Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz), the hot-tempered head of airport security who sees our hero as nothing more than a nuisance. Franz, who yells a lot in this movie, is the quintessential pain-in-the-ass, and the scenes where he and Willis butt heads bring an added level of tension to the film. Die Hard 2 also benefits from its airport setting, which it exploits to its fullest (McClane first realizes something is wrong when he sees one of Stuart’s men entering the baggage area, which leads to the movie’s first action-packed sequence). Willis once again delivers a charismatic performance as the hard-nosed McClane, and even sneaks a few self-referential jokes in from time to time (“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” he asks himself). Though not as interesting as Hans Gruber, William Sadler’s Col. Stuart nonetheless makes for a ruthless adversary; in the film’s most heartbreaking scene, he puts on a show of strength that leads to a tragedy on the ground. And as McClane will soon learn, even those purporting to be his friends can turn out to be enemies.
Of course, what makes Die Hard 2 so much fun is its action sequences. Featuring shootouts in the airport, a high-speed chase on snowmobiles, and a death-defying fistfight on the wing of a 747, Die Hard 2 may push the envelope a bit too far at times (the scene where McClane is trapped in the cockpit of a plane surrounded by 9 live grenades is a prime example), but when it comes to thrills and excitement, this film, like its predecessor, has plenty to spare.