The 1988 Die Hard was one of those cultural phenomenons that took over the world by storm. It’s a bizarre take on the Christmas film genre, which took things to a violent level rather than keeping it funny and merry. However, that’s the iconic beauty of every John McTiernan film, because there’s something always unusual that keeps you intrigued. However, just like every franchise in Hollywood, a film that does well will be bombarded by sequels, prequels, and spin-offs, which is what happened to Die Hard, beginning with the release of Die Hard 2.
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The Movie Review
John McClane is in Washington to welcome his wife when she lands. Terrorists take over the management of the equipment and keep the planes circling while he waits for her jet to land. They want to crash-land General Esperanza’s plane at the airport, where they will then flee in order to free the imprisoned warlord. The circling planes run out of fuel as the terrorists wait, forcing John McClane to take whatever action he can to recover control of the aircraft.
The first movie was excellent and shattered expectations for action movies. It demonstrated that action could take place in commonplace settings, gave English actors a ton of employment playing bad guys, and inspired a number of imitation flicks. However, Die Hard 2 was nothing great, in fact, it was quite mundane as a film. The plot makes an effort to resemble the original, but it falls short in terms of creativity, especially considering that Die Hard was a hard act to follow.
The primary plot hole is in McClane’s (the protagonist) participation itself, which is a bad sign for any film. In the first movie, he was essentially forced into action and his immediate reaction was to flee from the assailants. The situation is direly, stupidly different here to be frank. Willis makes an effort to appear as though he doesn’t want to go through it all again, but in reality, he plunges headfirst into the fight with all his heart. His portrayal as an everyday guy thrust into a challenging situation is diminished by this, which is literally why Die Hard was so good.
This issue is worsened by the action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, every action sequence is exciting and terrific. However, many of them drag on for far too long. In the first, there were a few brief standoffs where McClane would typically flee or sneakily take out the bad guys. Here, we have Willis running in against a large number of terrorists and prevailing in almost every sequence. That is just way too many instances of one-man army-type sequences. This lessens the claustrophobia and tension that would otherwise exist.
In general, the performances are fairly good. A lot of the returning characters have little to do this time around and seem ham-fisted into the film. Willis can practically perform this kind of action in his sleep, and he’s cemented into the John McClane mindset. The fresh new faces step into the stereotypical roles played by other actors before them. Such as Dennis Franz assuming the role of the inept cop blocking McClane’s path by following the rules etc. The lack of Alan Rickman is felt though. The evil guys have a lot to live up to, and they fall short of that ideal, despite William Sadler doing a fine job portraying Colonel Stuart who lacked the originality and individuality of Alan Rickman’s character.
The atmosphere and everything are okay at best. Sure, the cinematography is almost as good as the first film, while the soundtrack is nearly identical to the original too. There’s a lack of individuality that’s severely felt. The entirety of the film feels like a lesser recreation of the original Die Hard, in the same vein as The Force Awakens was to A New Hope.
While making an effort to emulate the previous movie, Renny Harlin demonstrates that he lacks McTiernan’s skill in evoking tension alongside the action. The end result is a fantastic action film, but it is overshadowed by its superior older brother.
- The film has some great action scenes
- The acting is generally quite good
- The visuals are great, with some great practical effects and camerawork
- The film is just an imitation of the original
- The action is too long and often unrealistic
- There’s not much development for side characters
- The music is bland