Following the monstrous success of the original Die Hard, the inevitable sequel, Die Hard 2 followed two years later with New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) once again finding himself at the centre of a terrorist attack. In this latest installment it is Christmas Eve and terrorists are about to take control of Washington Dulles airport in order to spring a captured Latin American drug lord from the custody of US agents.
With a blizzard already causing big delays and a backlog of planes circling the airport, things are already at fever pitch amongst anxious passengers and relatives even before the terrorists take control. McClane’s wife Holly once again finds herself inadvertently in the midst of trouble as a passenger on one of the circling planes which conveniently places John at the airport where all hell is about to break loose.
With the excellent Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) dispatched in the first film it is Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) who is the head bad guy this time and he does a creditable job in a role that could only pale in comparison. Surrounded by the usual useless henchmen he provides a sinister calm amongst the chaos.
With some good supporting characters, such as by the book airport cop Captain Lorenzo (Dennis Franz) getting in the way of Willis’ gung-ho John McClane, the action moves along at a fast pace and in places is as brutal as the first. The terrorists’ first demonstration of their absolute control of the airport is indeed enough to make you never want to take another plane ride.
With a clever plot twist thrown in which changes the game completely, a frantic finish is set up which ends with an explosive finale and the predictable end result you expect from the start. Despite this, the thrill ride is sufficient enough to make this another success and after a five year hiatus, set up the third film – Die Hard With A Vengeance.
Setting Die Hard 2 in an airport proves to be a double edged sword. On the one hand it allows much more freedom with the different available locations on offer and of course tapped into the fear that everyone has of a plane being hijacked (a fairly regular occurrence back in 1990), however on the flip side much of the claustrophobia of setting the first film entirely in one office block is lost. Also, with the character of John McClane already established, we expect him to do everything all guns a blazing and dispatch bad guy after bad guy without ever really getting hurt. In this respect Die Hard 2 struggles to reach the heights of the original film as the dynamic between McClane and Al cannot be replicated and the personal edge is missing.
Still one of the better action films of the mid-1990s, Die Hard 2 stands as a worthy successor to the #1 Action Film of All Time.