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Movie Review: Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Directed by Renny Harlin
Written by Steven E. de Souza and Doug Richardson from the novel 58 Minutes by Walter Wager
Fox, 1990

With director John McTiernan working on The Hunt for Red October, Fox turned to Renny Harlin to direct the sequel. At this point, the Finnish director’s most well-known work was A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. He would later make Cliffhanger and the disaster known as Cutthroat Island.

The original Die Hard wasn’t, like, Shakespeare smart or anything, but it certainly looks that way when you see Die Hard 2. The sequel is filled with some of the dumbest dialogue and character actions you’ll ever see. From a critical standpoint, there’s no way you can give this film high marks for the usual stuff, but damn this is an entertaining action picture. And, well, that’s what counts in the long run.

John McClane (Bruce Willis) finds himself in Washington D.C. this time, in Dulles Airport. His wife is on a plane about to land, and of course the city is bustling with political intrigue, on a snowy Christmas Eve. The War on Drugs has taken its first prisoner, a General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) and he’s being flown to Dulles in a small plane, and a disgraced Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) has orchestrated a plan to break him loose.

Stuart and a load of henchmen have take remote control of Dulles Airport, informing the tower, led by Trudeau (Fred Dalton Thompson) that if Dulles tries to interfere with their operation they will crash passenger planes. The pilots have no idea of the situation, other than they can’t land due to the weather, and are unable to be warned. Seeing that the cops, led by Carmine Lorenzo (a pre-NYPD Blue Dennis Franz), aren’t doing much with the situation, John starts playing hero cop, once again with his wife’s life on the line. If her plane doesn’t crash through malicious intent, it may very well crash when it runs out of fuel.

Also returning: Richard Thornburg (William Atherton) who happens to be on the same plane with Holly and has a restraining order against her for the actions in the original film. Considering the Die Hard films have all been anti-technology, anti-media, anti-pseudo-intellectualism, you can bet that he’ll find a way to make the situation worse.

There are several neat action sequences here: McClane’s escape from a plane where grenades are getting thrown into the cockpit, a snowmobile chase scene, and some pretty cool runway mayhem.

But the dialogue: “Hey, Lorenzo. What makes the metal detector go off first, the shit in your brains or the lead in your ass?” and several character actions are really stupid: When McClane, who is already in hot water for his rogue tactics, comes barging into Lorenzo’s office with a machine gun that only McClane knows is full of blanks, with tons of gun-toting cops surrounding him, decides to shoot the gun to prove a point. It’s amazing McClane doesn’t get cut down by friendly fire.

Still, despite these kinds of things, it’s a fun action picture, one that will pass the time nicely. Die Hard 2 topped the $100 million mark in 1990 and was the 8th highest grossing film of the year. It’s still the highest grossing of the series.

Follows: Die Hard

Next: Die Hard with a Vengeance

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