In 1988 Bruce Willis changed the face of the action hero by portraying an average cop in a situation normally reserved for one man muscle machines like Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Norris. The movie was an enormous success, not only launching Bruce Willis’ movie career but also a franchise. In 1990 he came back for seconds. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?
The movie shifts from setting; from Nakatomi Plaza to Dulles Airport, again situated around the Christmas holidays. John McClain is there to pick up his wife who’s flight is about to land when he spots someone suspicious and follows his hunch. Within no-time bullets are flying all around, conveyor belts are the setting for fight scenes and Bruce is being beaten up, being shot out of a plane and racing over the ice on a snowmobile; Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!
Now this movie reaches the quality of the first one. It easily avoids the repetition-syndrome usually found in sequels. Locking Bruce up in a building against terrorists again wouldn’t satisfy the audience. Here Bruce goes up against a whole team of trained mercenaries while battling the bureaucracy as he has no jurisdiction. Once again his wife’s life is in peril as she is on a plane that can’t land because terrorists have taken over the control tower, all to aid a south-american-dictator who looks fiendishly a lot like Fidel Castro. To make sure no-one intervenes they make a plane crash itself by feeding it the wrong coordinates. An impressive scene!
The direction is slickly done by Renny Harlin who previously helmed A Nightmare on Elm Street pt. 4 and The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine which was released the same week as Die Hard 2. I really loved the self-referential humor and the high pacing. It’s got impressive special effects, nice plot twists and a layered script that does the original Die Hard more justice than all of it’s clones which just changed the setting from a skyscraper to a boat or an ice-hockey stadium. The bad points? Well, there aren’t too many but it does have minor weaknesses. The biggest one is that the bad guy, or bad guys in this case are rather bland. Even the head-honcho comes nowhere near to Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. The role isn’t really juicy and the actor doesn’t try to do anything special with the material. Luckily Jeremy Irons came along in part 3.
All in all this is a great action movie and a worthy addition to a strong franchise.