Written by: Doug Richardson & Steven E. de Souza
Starring: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Reginald VelJohnson, Franco Nero
Some films reach a level of quality and commercial success that studios find the best way to replicate the returns would tell the exact same story but with some few alterations. These are known as the true Hollywood sequels. I just made up that term and stand by it. Nothing imaginative or inventive, just the same story perhaps in a different location and some new supporting characters. One of the entries within this unfortunate exhibit happens to be Die Hard 2, which followed the beats so accurately to a lesser degree that it slightly tarnishes the original.
On Christmas Eve, the following year after what took place at the Nakatomi Tower, John McClane (Bruce Willis) waits for his wife to arrive by plane for the holidays. While waiting, John notices some strange activity, which turns into yet another circumstance where he gets dragged into a situation where a group of men has shut off power to the airport and demand that a prisoner coming in an inbound place be released.
John McClane must have really aggravated someone to be this cursed around the holidays. Instead of celebrating the time where families come together in joy and happiness, he gets stuck in life-threatening situations he needs to shoot his way out of. It happens once again for him but in an airport where he has no real jurisdiction. He tries to do his best to alert the authorities of his suspicions, but the poor guy cannot catch a break, as no one believes him so he must do it himself yet again. Die Hard 2 certainly has its entertaining moments throughout because McClane naturally has comedic sensibilities to him and the action sequences brought excitement. Several moments demonstrate why the filmmakers wanted to return to this character, unfortunately, the story they used as a vehicle for the comeback did not live up to the standards of the original in the slightest.
The narrative went bigger this time around where instead of it taking place within a building, it involves an entire airport and an air control tower unable to land several incoming planes. Higher stakes, for sure, but at what cost? Similarly to the first one, John’s wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) finds herself in the crosshairs of yet another mess, which most likely prompted McClane’s further involvement in everything happening. She, along with John, need to look and see if they have curses put on them because while John saves the day, she has to sit back and wait to see if she’ll die or not. In this film, she’s stuck on one of the incoming planes, but it cannot land because of the power outage at the airport, leaving the place circling around with minimal fuel waiting for a restoration. The low fuel sets the countdown for the limited time McClane has to save the day with his wife in peril yet again.
Several threads get picked up from the previous film, including the journalist Richard Thornburg (William Atherton), who released the identity of Holly in the last film, leading to Hans deciphering her relation to John. If remembered correctly, she ended the film by rightfully punching him in the face and now they happen to be on the same plane together waiting for their doom if a solution does not get found. Their interactions certainly create some comedic moments between them, especially when showing Richard has not changed one bit since his last go-around with the McClanes. This dynamic certainly adds to some intrigue to what occurs on the plane and allows Bonnie Bedelia to get some meaningful screen time, which should never be complained about.
Die Hard 2 definitely serves its purpose of bringing back John McClane for another go-around, but it also demonstrates the steep decline of this franchise. It certainly went bigger with its story but the intrigue of the villains and overall stakes felt stale. This makes the absence of Hans Gruber feel larger because he proved to be such an equal adversary to McClane, which does not necessarily occur in this sequel. Everything feels like a retread but for those who love basic 80s action movies with some decent one-liners, you might find some enjoyment in it. For me, I’ll be fine forgetting about this film because I’ve already seen it; I believe it was called Die Hard.