Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence & offensive language
Bruce Willis as John McClane
Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennero McClane
William Atherton as Dick Thornburg
Reginald VelJohnson as Sergeant Al Powell
Franco Nero as General Ramon Esperanza
William Sadler as Colonel William Stuart
John Amos as Major Grant
Director: Renny Harlin
When a team of terrorists threaten to destroy an airport and demand the release of the drug lord Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero), detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) tries to stop them.
Die Hard was such a big hit upon its release in 1988, and for very good reason. It’s a great action movie that manages to get pretty much everything right, and over 3 decades later it still holds up. A sequel was inevitable and released 2 years after its release as Die Hard 2 (also known as Die Harder). It isn’t anywhere near the quality of the first movie by any means, it is more of the same of the original but just not executed as well. With that said, it was still very enjoyable for what it was.
The writing is really the key problem with the movie, its not terrible but generally lukewarm at best. It does copy a lot from its predecessor, even the part where it takes place at Christmas. However it skimps on the character moments, themes, and iconic villain. Also while I wouldn’t say that Die Hard is one of the more realistic action movies out there, Die Hard 2 requires a lot more suspension of disbelief. The premise is farfetched, and the movie can get over the top. Not that it’s a bad thing mind you, it’s just that it feels very much like an 90s action movie, whereas the first movie was an 80s action film while still feeling timeless. There is also a lot of convenience when it comes to scenarios that occur, and especially with how John McClane manages to do certain things. Some situations felt totally implausible, even for an action movie. Those are generally its weaker points but on the whole its not bad. In all fairness it does some things quite well. The movie is also well paced and intense, wasting no time to get to the action. Also, there’s the setting at an airport. It certainly is not as claustrophobic as the first movie’s contained setting in the hotel. However it still allows for opportunities for good action.
The acting all around is good. First of all is of course Bruce Willis reprising his action star making role of John McClane. He definitely helps the movie, his sense of humour, charisma and relatability makes him fun to watch. To a degree he does have plot armour and feels less vulnerable despite often being put through the wringer. However there’s nothing movie breaking, and you still feel it’s the same character who ended the first movie. Unfortunately, the characters other than McClane fall a little flat. The rest of the cast with the likes of Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Dennis Franz and more do play their parts well enough but stand out less than the supporting cast in the first movie. The villains in particular are quite forgettable. The first movie had a strong dynamic between Willis and Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber, an this movie doesn’t really have that. However the main villains here aren’t terrible, they just pale in comparison to what came before.
Taking on the Die Hard sequel is director Renny Harlin. There isn’t anything inherently bad about the direction, it’s mostly good. However it isn’t as well tuned as John McTiernan’s work on the first movie, despite them having similar directing styles. On a technical level, it certainly has aged worse than the first movie. There are more special effects used this time and it ends up dating the movie further. That aside, it is technically well made. The snowy atmosphere is perfect, and it really gives the movie a nice Christmas aesthetic that the first movie lacked despite it being known as a Christmas movie. There’s a lot of entertaining action sequences, from chases, to gunfights and fight scenes. The action is certainly larger scale, and give the way for much more carnage and mayhem.
Die Hard 2 is probably the least talked about movie in the series. It definitely doesn’t work as well as the previous movie, however it is still pretty good, and worth watching if you liked the first movie. The action is fun to watch, its well-paced, and Bruce Willis carries much of the film. As an over-the-top 90s action movie, it succeeds.