Review: DIE HARD 2 (1990) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Review: DIE HARD 2 (1990)

In conjunction for the upcoming release of A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD this week (review coming soon!), here is the second installment of DIE HARD review.


What do you do if the first movie has already set the bar high? In the case of a sequel, you magnify the scope "bigger and bolder (and to certain extent, better)" where everything are emphasized on the "more" factor. DIE HARD 2 is certainly one of those prime examples. As a thrill-a-minute, action-movie blockbuster, this epic sequel delivers its promise. But it's quite unfortunate that it doesn't reaches the overall height of the much-superior original version of DIE HARD (1988).

Two years after the Nakatomi Plaza incident, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is about to suffer another bad day again -- this time at the Washington Dulles International Airport on the Christmas Eve where he supposes to wait for his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to arrive from Los Angeles.

While waiting at an airport bar, he accidentally spots two men in army fatigues carrying a suspicious-looking package and one of them has a gun. Naturally he follows them into the baggage area and shootout ensues. He manages to kill one of them but the other escapes. Soon, he discovers that the dead man is actually a mercenary thought to have been killed in action. Sensing that there are greater danger ahead, he reports his suspicions to airport police Captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz). However, Lorenzo thinks he's making too many assumptions and have John thrown out of his office.

Likewise, John refuses to give up and investigates further. Apparently, his suspicions lead to a group of mercenary, lead by former U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) in an elaborate plot to take over the air traffic control systems and seize control of the airport. Their mission is to rescue General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), a notorious drug lord and dictator of Val Verde, who is being deported to the United States to stand trial on drug trafficking charges.

The plot in DIE HARD 2 is certainly ambitious enough, but it lacks the original's consistent pace and tightly-focused direction made perfect by director John McTiernan the first time around. This time, DIE HARD 2 is replaced by Finnish director Renny Harlin (McTiernan is slated to return but he forced to bail out due to his commitment in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER), who is previously known for directing horror movies such as PRISON and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (both released in 1988). Despite this is his first big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, Harlin proves to be an accomplished visual stylist. The action is top-notch and some of the exciting moments are far spectacular than the original movie, even though they are unbelievably over-the-top. (For instance, check out the infamous scene where John ejected himself out of the exploding plane. It's almost like watching a James Bond movie).

As for the character, Bruce Willis has again, delivers a high-spirited performance as the relentless and indestructible John McClane. Likewise, it's fun to watch him wisecrack all the way no matter what danger he's in and of course, the sheer enthusiasm he has displayed during the action sequences. William Sadler does make quite an impression as the corrupted Colonel Stewart, even though he doesn't have the wicked charm and distinctive personality the way Alan Rickman delivers his villainous role so well the first time around. The rest of the supporting casts (including returning characters played by Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald Veljohnson and William Atherton) are reasonable good enough.

While DIE HARD 2 is far from perfect, it remains a rare sequel (especially for an action movie) that mostly delivers. Ironically, the sequel manages to out-gross the original movie with $117.5 million at the US box office.

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