Sometimes, when a film does really well, it gets a sequel that’s quite a bit worse. That’s the case here with Die Hard 2, a movie that ends up not being all good, especially compared to its predecessor. Here, it follows the same basic plot, except that instead of a tall building, the bad guys take over an airport. The only real difference is that the important character that our hero is trying to save is stuck on an airplane unable to land, and fuel is running out.
It’s this key difference that gives Die Hard 2 a sense of urgency. We once again find John McClane (Bruce Willis) as our lead, and he needs to save his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) for a second time. However, we get shots of her in the plane interspersed between John trying to save the day, and it ends up with her character seeming pointless. Even if John’s wife wasn’t on the plane, he still would have tried to save it, and having her sitting there, sipping champagne, doesn’t keep us interested or make us sympathize.
The plan this time around involves a man named Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) deciding that taking over an airport would be fun. There’s a plane coming in that is holding something or someone Stuart wants, although the reasons why aren’t made especially clear. Or maybe I had just stopped caring by the point it was described. He shuts down the tower, severs all communication between the airport and the planes, and then, just for good measure, shuts down the runways. The planes are forced to just circulate the airport until power can be restored.
If you guessed that John McClane will be the one to try to restore power and hunt down the villains, you guessed correctly. He begins the film at the airport, sees a couple of suspicious men, and kills one of them, while the other escapes. He then finds himself in police headquarters trying to find out why nothing is being done about them. The police figure that these two people were simple thieves, while John things that the airport is going to be a target. And then it was, because heroes aren’t wrong in these types of situations.
In the first Die Hard, the plot had John McClane trapped in a building while trying to save the hostages also trapped. This time, he’s free to leave at any moment, and the local police actually try to force him out. One of them is even more unhelpful than the one in the first film, which became increasingly annoying as the film progressed. They’ve heard of what John did in the previous film, so why not let him help? He is a cop after all. But no, they just decide to push him aside even after he’s done something good. It just doesn’t make sense, just like in the last film.
Die Hard 2 is simply a mediocre movie and a lackluster sequel.
John McClane’s initial actions don’t make all that much sense either. He sees a man with a gun, and instead of alerting the local authorities, he decides to chase the man himself. Why? Is his ego that large after what he did in the first film? A few other characters seem to treat him that way, so maybe that’s a possibility. Or maybe he’s realized that he’s in an action film, and that it’s his job to initiate all of the action scenes.
He’s also become somewhat self-aware, often wondering how he could get into this type of situation a second time. This happens far too often as well, and even though he did this in the first film, the dialogue was clever. The witis vacant this time around, with character interactions being little more than exposition instead of filled with fun interactions.
The villain this time around is also uninteresting. He’s smart, just like the bad guy in the first film, but there’s no charm to his personality. His motivations are also not all that clear, or at least, they weren’t to me. Okay, so he wants to rescue this guy, but why? Maybe it’s explained and I missed it, but to me, it seemed like it was just an excuse to take over the airport and have Bruce Willis kill some guys.
The action scenes also aren’t all that entertaining. The “bigger is better” approach to sequel making is used here, but it doesn’t achieve a positive result here. There are more explosions, a greater variety in environments, and the action starts out earlier, but the fun from the first film is gone. They’re not inventive, and the end up being standard shootouts, or re-hashes from the previous Die Hard.
What I liked most about Die Hard was the way it tied everything together at the end, and how no plot point was forgotten about. This time, things are introduced just for the moment, and then left to leave our memory. For example, there’s a point where John and another man secure a walkie-talkie, but it’s encoded, or something like that. It has millions of potential combinations to unlock, we’re told. But that’s the end of that, and I’m left wondering why that was introduced at all.
Die Hard 2 is simply a mediocre movie and a lackluster sequel. The action isn’t all that fun, there isn’t any charm to the characters, and the wit in the dialogue is gone. Things are brought up and never mentioned again, while certain aspects just didn’t make that much sense to me. It’s just not a film that I found all that enjoyable, and as a result, I found myself bored more often than not while watching it.
Conclusion: Die Hard 2 is a poor sequel to a great movie.
Recommendation: Even if you liked Die Hard, Die Hard 2 isn’t worth your time.