Die Hard 2 (1990) – Renny Harlin

Bruce Willis returns as John McClane in the follow up to the blockbuster hit, Die Hard. Two years after the first film changed the action film game, Twentieth Century Fox delivered a sequel, one with just as solid a story as the first, something that started to slip after the the third entry.

In this film, McClane is still very much a regular joe, a cop that gets caught up in a larger than life events, and as things grow increasingly dire, his manic sense of humour comes into play. This time out, McClane is at Dulles International Airport waiting for his wife, Holly’s (Bonnie Bedelia), plane to land so he, her, the kids can spend the holidays with his in-laws.

Unfortunately, today is the wrong day to travel.

A deadly war criminal Esperanza (Franco Nero) is being extradited to the United States, but he has allies. Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) has a plan to hold the passenger planes in transit to Duller hostage, by knocking out the control tower, and its communications, until Esperanza is on the ground and away from the airport.

Course, they didn’t know McClane was going to be at the airport that day, and he’s the fly in the ointment for Stuart and the rest as director Renny Harlin, taking over the director’s chair from John McTiernan delivers a standout action film (and arguably a Xmas movie).

Featuring set-pieces that show McClane relying on his instincts and wits as opposed to just physical endurance to survive (something that would surface in later films) John is motivated by the ticking clock of his wife’s plane endlessly circling and running out of fuel. So he brings everything he’s got to take down the baddies, and they keep coming right up until the climax of the film.

Holly has her own problems in the air because the reporter from the previous film, Thornberg (William Atherton) who caused the McClane family so much grief is on her plane, and working the story from the air.

Micheal Kamen delivers the familiar Die Hard themes in his score, and Harlin knows how to shoot an action sequence. He also knows how to fill out the cast with solid actors, Reginald VelJohnson returns as Al Powell, while John Amos, Dennis Franz, Fred Thompson, Robert Patrick, Colm Meaney, Vondie Curtis-Hall and John Leguizamo sign up for this thrill ride, as do a set of grenades with the longest fuse in film history.

When I first saw this film, I loved it. When I just rewatched it, I loved it. It’s still very much the McClane character, and while he’s taking on terrorists again, it’s not as confined as the first film and is it’s own thing. Showing that the series could work in almost any environ, as long as they stay true to the character… something that they started to eschew as the series went on.

Being a completionist though, I own them all, and will quite happily settle in for them when it’s time to watch them for the blog.

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