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Review: Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

Feb. 12, 2013by: JimmyO
NOTE: With A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD opening on Thursday, we thought this would be a great time to revisit the older films from the franchise, so expect a review/day until my review of the latest one is posted on Friday.

PLOT: Can this guy ever have a quiet Christmas with his family? On Christmas Eve, Detective John McClane waits for his wife to arrive on an incoming flight. Unfortunately at the very same time a group of thugs take over the airport in an attempt to free a vicious drug lord. Will McClane be able to once again, save his wife and everybody else from certain devastation? Of course he will, but it sure is fun watching him do it.

REVIEW: What a monumental task it must have been to take on another DIE HARD film. Of course with its massive success there was bound to be a sequel and what more can you do with DIE HARD? DIE HARDER naturally. In the Renny Harlin directed sequel DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER, NYPD Detective John McClane has been promoted to lieutenant and officially transferred to Los Angeles to be with his family. Now most familys holiday plans include sitting around a tree opening presents and drinking eggnog, but not McClane. He seems to always have to deal with really nasty terrorists looking to spoil Christmas for everybody.

In this high energy sequel, there is a similar tone to the first film except like most part 2s, there is a bigger body count and bigger explosions. Some familiar faces in addition to Bruce Willis as McClane return including Bonnie Bedelia as Holly McClane, William Atherton as that pesky reporter and even Reginald VelJohnson shows up for a minute. Were they necessary to this second feature? Not really, especially in VelJohnsons case, however they clearly wanted to connect this film to the first beyond just the main character. In fact, Holly is in a similar predicament as she was in the original. And lets face it, they clearly wanted another great moment where Holly shows Atherton a little something just like they did in the original and call me crazy, but this worked as well.

With the original film taking place in a high rise in Los Angeles, the sequel expands its world to Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. In the beginning, McClane is waiting for his wife to arrive on an incoming flight while a bunch of dangerous men take the entire airport over, including shutting down the runway. Making matters worse is an oncoming storm that is already delaying flights. The action kicks in quickly when McClane notices a couple of men passing on a suspicious package and going down into the baggage area. He follows and an intense shoot out quickly leaves one shooter seriously crushed literally I mean. The entire operation is led by William Sadler with plans to free an evil drug lord by the name of General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), while he is transferred at the airport.

The main villains here certainly serve their purpose. Both Sadler and Nero have the badass vibe down, yet they lack the color that Rickman gave Gruber. The two actors do good enough work, specifically Sadler who gives a strong performance, but they come across as mere run-of-the-mill villains in this franchise. Perhaps it is the lack of a connection between McClane which deflates their fear factor. After all, one of my favorite moments in the original DIE HARD is the early scene between Willis and Rickman that raises the stakes which is sorely lacking here.

Harlin has always had the ability to shoot one hell of an action sequence, and for me this may be his best work. The action-set-pieces are pretty intense especially one shockingly disturbing plane crash look out for Colm Meany as the pilot. This sequel is stylish and still incorporates the humor that the original inspired thanks to Willis who continues to really give McClane life. Yet with so many characters and so much going on it doesnt build as much suspense as John McTiernan was able to accomplish the first time around. And frankly, this occasionally feels as if it is a dumbed down version of the first film. With that, you cant help but enjoy the rollercoaster of a ride that Harlin takes the audience on.

As this series has progressed, Willis McClane has lost some of the humanity that was given in the first film it started here. John McClane gets beaten and bloody and nearly fails not only physically, but mentally as well. In this particular film we still get a sense of that, especially thanks to the fact that his wife continues to play a part in the film I wish Bedelia would have continued playing the role in the following films. Yet that vulnerability started to slip away in this film as this New York detective began to emerge as something superhuman. This guy gets shot at repeatedly and can survive being ejected out of a pilot seat seconds before the plane he is in explodes. Even still, this is one of the most memorable scenes from DIE HARDER as ludicrous as it may be. Thankfully the actor is so damn charismatic that he is easy to root for, no matter how obvious it is that he will be A-OK. While this sequel may not rise to the heights of the classic first, it is still a damn fine flick with lots to love.

Extra Tidbit: Which sequel do you prefer? DIE HARD 2 or LETHAL WEAPON 2?
Source: JoBlo.com

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3:03AM on 02/13/2013
Still love the movie but it is just like the first movie. The main diffference is it didn't have those stand alone moments with McClane which is also what made the original so memorable, sure it established him as a character but it did the same for Gruber. The villains in this film felt more like from a Bond flick & are very cardboard cut & very non threatening I know it sounds like I am bashing it, but I am not, it's still great film & the action sequences are very well done Harlin is a
Still love the movie but it is just like the first movie. The main diffference is it didn't have those stand alone moments with McClane which is also what made the original so memorable, sure it established him as a character but it did the same for Gruber. The villains in this film felt more like from a Bond flick & are very cardboard cut & very non threatening I know it sounds like I am bashing it, but I am not, it's still great film & the action sequences are very well done Harlin is a great director & made one of my favorites with the very underappreciated Long Kiss Goodnight,. I seriously believe he should be hired to do Expendables 3.
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+9
3:01PM on 02/12/2013
I've always loved this sequel (even feels more Christmas-y than the first) and never understood the negative comments about it over the years. Great directing, acting, action, suspense...fun all around! Great job, Renny! Someone give that fucker another "big movie", yo!
I've always loved this sequel (even feels more Christmas-y than the first) and never understood the negative comments about it over the years. Great directing, acting, action, suspense...fun all around! Great job, Renny! Someone give that fucker another "big movie", yo!
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12:16PM on 02/12/2013

unpopular opinion

sorry, but DH2 is weak. compared to the first one, it's no better than any of the other die hard clones of the 1990s. first of all, it doesn't make a lick of sense. there are at least 3 large, international airports within spitting distance of dulles...send all the planes there. second, what's with the snowmobile chase? in the--erp--wilderness of washington, d.c.? third, the payphone shot has always bothered me. a pacific bell payphone...in d.c.? guh. sloppy. the manhole in the
sorry, but DH2 is weak. compared to the first one, it's no better than any of the other die hard clones of the 1990s. first of all, it doesn't make a lick of sense. there are at least 3 large, international airports within spitting distance of dulles...send all the planes there. second, what's with the snowmobile chase? in the--erp--wilderness of washington, d.c.? third, the payphone shot has always bothered me. a pacific bell payphone...in d.c.? guh. sloppy. the manhole in the runway? dumb. lighting the fuel trail, in the snow, to blow up the plane that is speeding away? dumb. emptying a clip full of blanks at a cop, in a room full of cops? dumb. bottom line, for me, this was just a generic action movie, like all the other clones, like die hard 4, like the under siege movies. none of the charm of the first. even the third, which replaced the claustrophobia of the first with the endless expanse of new york city, felt more like a die hard movie than a crummy die hard clone (to be clear, i don't love the 3rd one either). oh well, to each their own.
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11:06AM on 02/12/2013

DIE HARD 2 is awesome.

Why people look down on DIE HARD 2 has always alluded/bothered me. It's a great setup, great action, a badass villain and not a rehash of the first movie like so many sequels can be.
Why people look down on DIE HARD 2 has always alluded/bothered me. It's a great setup, great action, a badass villain and not a rehash of the first movie like so many sequels can be.
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11:49AM on 02/12/2013
It's fun... but it's the SAME movie as the first one, only not as good. In that respect, it's a good version of a typical sequel.
It's fun... but it's the SAME movie as the first one, only not as good. In that respect, it's a good version of a typical sequel.
10:01AM on 02/12/2013
Still my favorite sequel but far from perfect. Setting it at Christmas, AGAIN, & involving McClane's wife & the douchey reporter, AGAIN, were terrible ideas.
Still my favorite sequel but far from perfect. Setting it at Christmas, AGAIN, & involving McClane's wife & the douchey reporter, AGAIN, were terrible ideas.
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9:51AM on 02/12/2013
Still my favorite sequel but far from perfect. Setting it at Christmas, AGAIN, & involving McClane's wife & the douchey reporter, AGAIN, were terrible ideas.
Still my favorite sequel but far from perfect. Setting it at Christmas, AGAIN, & involving McClane's wife & the douchey reporter, AGAIN, were terrible ideas.
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9:48AM on 02/12/2013

LETHAL WEAPON 2!

DIE HARD 2 is an unimaginative carbon copy of the original film. It's fun and enjoyable, but not fresh. LETHAL WEAPON 2 is the next tale in the lives of Riggs and Murtaugh that surpasses the original film, and even adds to Rigg's backstory with the HUGE revelation of the true cause of his wife's death. Therefore, LETHAL WEAPON 2 is loads better than DIE HARD 2.

Plus, I'll take revenge-driven Mel Gibson over anything!
DIE HARD 2 is an unimaginative carbon copy of the original film. It's fun and enjoyable, but not fresh. LETHAL WEAPON 2 is the next tale in the lives of Riggs and Murtaugh that surpasses the original film, and even adds to Rigg's backstory with the HUGE revelation of the true cause of his wife's death. Therefore, LETHAL WEAPON 2 is loads better than DIE HARD 2.

Plus, I'll take revenge-driven Mel Gibson over anything!
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8:34AM on 02/12/2013
As much as I love "Die Hard with a Vengeance", "Die Hard 2" is the best sequel in my opinion.
As much as I love "Die Hard with a Vengeance", "Die Hard 2" is the best sequel in my opinion.
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10:18AM on 02/12/2013
Agree!
Agree!
8:02AM on 02/12/2013

Great review!

Glad to see someone else that enjoy DH2 as much as I do. I feel that this one gets a bad rap for no reason.
Glad to see someone else that enjoy DH2 as much as I do. I feel that this one gets a bad rap for no reason.
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+10
8:00AM on 02/12/2013

Lethal Weapon 2

No doubt Lethal Weapon 2 is one of the best sequels ever. Die Hard 2 is just a good sequel.
No doubt Lethal Weapon 2 is one of the best sequels ever. Die Hard 2 is just a good sequel.
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+3
7:54AM on 02/12/2013

A holiday classic if you ask me

This is as close to the greatness of the original as any movie in the franchise got. In some cases it even surpases its predecessor. It's a great and underrated entry, with Willis probably being at his best as McClane, with a ballsy crash of a plane, great shootouts and fights. I completely disagree that McClane became superhero in this. He still gets his ass handed to him by Sadler, he still relies on instincts and he still enjoys a little luck, much like in the first movie. I do agree that
This is as close to the greatness of the original as any movie in the franchise got. In some cases it even surpases its predecessor. It's a great and underrated entry, with Willis probably being at his best as McClane, with a ballsy crash of a plane, great shootouts and fights. I completely disagree that McClane became superhero in this. He still gets his ass handed to him by Sadler, he still relies on instincts and he still enjoys a little luck, much like in the first movie. I do agree that Sadler wasn't as good here as Rickman was, but he was ok and we also had TWO more interesting villains. I love part 3, especially the addition of Sam Jackson, but for my money Die Harder is the best sequel in the franchise.

As for the ET: it's a tough one. I think Lethal Weapon 2 is the best one in its series, surpassing the original. Mel was fantastic in it, his chemistry with Danny even better, a great villain and plot. But between the two? I think I'm gonna have to go with Die Hard 2. It's got better action, whilst LW 2 has the better laughs and since I'm more of an action guy then a comedy guy, McClane wins this battle
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+5
7:33AM on 02/12/2013
Although not even close to the first one, it had one of the most emotional moments within the franchise... I'm talking about the plane crash that McClane tried so hard to prevent from happening.

That scene alone takes this movie to a whole different level (comparing it with other action flicks).
Although not even close to the first one, it had one of the most emotional moments within the franchise... I'm talking about the plane crash that McClane tried so hard to prevent from happening.

That scene alone takes this movie to a whole different level (comparing it with other action flicks).
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6:53AM on 02/12/2013
I was at college when this came out. Imagine how I felt when this got a 15 cert at the cinema compared to the original's 18 cert. Now imagine how I feel about the new Die Hard with a 12A UK rating. Cut to shreds!
I was at college when this came out. Imagine how I felt when this got a 15 cert at the cinema compared to the original's 18 cert. Now imagine how I feel about the new Die Hard with a 12A UK rating. Cut to shreds!
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5:49AM on 02/12/2013

Remember when Die Hard was Die Hard?

This was a perfect way to incorporate bigger set pieces and still keep it a Die Hard movie, even the third one felt like Die Hard. The last one and this new one are so far off from Die Hard they should have been called Expendables Side Story 1 and 2. They are too over the top and so unrelated from Die Hard that the new one will bomb just like Arnie and Stallones last movies. Red 2 though, that will make Bruce Willis some money.
This was a perfect way to incorporate bigger set pieces and still keep it a Die Hard movie, even the third one felt like Die Hard. The last one and this new one are so far off from Die Hard they should have been called Expendables Side Story 1 and 2. They are too over the top and so unrelated from Die Hard that the new one will bomb just like Arnie and Stallones last movies. Red 2 though, that will make Bruce Willis some money.
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5:12AM on 02/12/2013
I think Die Hard works because it was set in a confined space, i.e. a high-rise building. Once you take McClane out of that space, it's not Die Hard. Here in Die Hard 2 - we see him in the airport, around the airport, outside the airport and even on the airplane. Don't get me wrong. Die Hard 2 is a great action film and very fun to watch. It just doesn't have the same feeling as Die Hard. I'd give Die Hard 2 an 8/10 as well. Extra tidbit: Die Hard 2.
I think Die Hard works because it was set in a confined space, i.e. a high-rise building. Once you take McClane out of that space, it's not Die Hard. Here in Die Hard 2 - we see him in the airport, around the airport, outside the airport and even on the airplane. Don't get me wrong. Die Hard 2 is a great action film and very fun to watch. It just doesn't have the same feeling as Die Hard. I'd give Die Hard 2 an 8/10 as well. Extra tidbit: Die Hard 2.
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2:50AM on 02/12/2013
Die Harder = Die Hard at an airport
Under Siege = Die Hard on a submarine
Under Siege 2 = Die Hard on a train
Speed 2 = Die Hard on a cruise ship
Sudden Death = Die Hard in a hockey arena
Star Trek The Next Generation "Starship Mine" = Die Hard on a starship
Die Harder = Die Hard at an airport
Under Siege = Die Hard on a submarine
Under Siege 2 = Die Hard on a train
Speed 2 = Die Hard on a cruise ship
Sudden Death = Die Hard in a hockey arena
Star Trek The Next Generation "Starship Mine" = Die Hard on a starship
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4:12AM on 02/12/2013
And Air Force One is Die Hard...on Air Force One!
And Air Force One is Die Hard...on Air Force One!
9:15AM on 02/12/2013
Speed= Die Hard on a Bus
Speed= Die Hard on a Bus
2:54PM on 02/12/2013
@Jeff Knite: uhm, no. No shooting terrorists = no die hard
@Jeff Knite: uhm, no. No shooting terrorists = no die hard
2:36AM on 02/12/2013
Great sequel. Obviously not as good as the first one, but still great. Good review.

In regards to the ET, I prefer Lethal Weapon 2. One of my favourite sequels of all time. It's funnier than the first and yet still has that serious vibe. Love when Riggs taps on the back window of the bad guy's car and says "Hello Asshole!". Cracks me up every time!
Great sequel. Obviously not as good as the first one, but still great. Good review.

In regards to the ET, I prefer Lethal Weapon 2. One of my favourite sequels of all time. It's funnier than the first and yet still has that serious vibe. Love when Riggs taps on the back window of the bad guy's car and says "Hello Asshole!". Cracks me up every time!
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9:14AM on 02/12/2013
I agree
I agree
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