Die Hard 2 (1990)
McClane on a Plane
Just once, I'd like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin' Christmas tree, a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin' tin can - John McClane
Whilst Bruce Willis may have been an unlikely actor to become an action hero, he certainly managed it with "Die Hard" and its little surprise that after the success of "Die Hard" we got the sequel "Die Hard 2". What's good is that whilst we get new baddies and a new slightly bigger location all those elements from the action, the wise cracks and that sense of confinement all return without it making it feel just another rehash.
Having relocated to LA and got his marriage to Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) back on track, John McClane (Bruce Willis - 16 Blocks) finds himself once more in the wrong place at the wrong time whilst waiting for his wife's plane to land at Washington's Dulles Airport. The trouble is that mercenaries have taken over the airport as they try to intercept extradited General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) before he is taken in to custody. With his wife's plane and several others stuck in the sky, running on fumes and unable to land McClane must do everything he can to stop the mercenaries and help the airport bring the planes down safely.
So the storyline to "Die Hard 2" is very similar to what we had already seen, John McClane in the wrong place at the wrong time forced to take on baddies who take over an airport. As such "Die Hard 2" could easily have ended up as an unoriginal rehash full of similar action sequences, comedy and camp villainy. But with the change of location it does some important things to make it feel just a little bit different, most notably that with it being set in the airport McClane has a larger playground to charge all over but it still has that feeling of confinement. It means we still get plenty of tension and atmosphere as McClane has to get around without being detected.
What it also does is bring in a selection of characters including the Chief of airport police and an engineer who McClane has to sometimes work with and often against. It gives it that slight difference to the original because that was all about one man against many. And talking of characters Holly is back and whilst it's a bit of a coincidence that she just happens to be stuck on a plane desperate to land the fact she is stuck on a plane with slime ball journo Richard Thornburg who she battered in the first movie makes for some amusing scenes.
Which brings me nicely on to the fact that whilst there is no forced comedy in "Die Hard 2" we get plenty of wise cracking from McClane which is one of the major things as to why these "Die Hard" movies are so good. Watching McClane basically talk to himself or poke fun at the Chief of police are just great moments. And as you would expect with McClane just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time again there is some wise cracking moments surrounding that exact unfortunate turn of events.
Plus of course there is the action and one thing I liked about ""Die Hard" was that there was a touch of realism to it and "Die Hard 2" starts off with almost a touch of realism with an action scene in the luggage handling area. It's good, in fact it is exciting as is all the action which fills "Die Hard 2" but in order to try and top the action we saw the first time around that sort of realism is thrown out of the window as action becomes seriously over the top with snow bike chases, jumping on planes and well plenty of big action sequences.
As for the actual storyline, which sort of becomes unimportant when all the wise cracking and action kicks in, well it's not bad with a group of mercenaries taking over the airport to try and get their hands on some foreign general who is being extradited. It sounds plain sailing and for the most it is, although it throws up a nice twist which although really doesn't alter things isn't that easy to see coming.
But of course "Die Hard 2" is very much about Bruce Willis and the character of John McClane, are action hero. Well what is nice is the character is exactly the same, he may have sorted out his relationship with Holly and relocated to LA but it's still the same sarcastic McClane which won us over the first time around. And by not messing with the character, trying to give him some hidden depth it works because McClane isn't a deep character.
Aside from Willis, well in a strange way everyone else seems to be a supporting actor even William Sadler as bad guy Col. Stuart, although the butt naked work out scene as we are introduced to Stuart is an eye opener. So what we get is a lot of characters and recognizable faces which have a small but integral parts to play such as Don Harvey and Robert Patrick as bad guys, Dennis Franz as annoying airport cop Carmine Lorenzo and John Amos as Maj. Grant. Plus we get those returning characters so Bonnie Bedelia returns as Holly, William Atherton as Richard Thornburg and even Reginald VelJohnson gets a small returning part as Sgt. Al Powell.
What this all boils down to is that "Die Hard 2" is a great sequel because it basically gives us more of the same without just feeling a rehash. Those clever changes such as the location and characters allows it to feel bigger and different, whilst we still get all the action and tension which make the first one so good. Plus of course Bruce Willis returns and is a sarcastic as ever with a series of wise cracks whilst taking on more bad guys than ever.
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