It’s two years since the events at Nakatomi Plaza, and cop John McClane (Willis) is at the airport on Christmas Eve to pick up his wife, Holly (Bedelia). While he’s waiting, however, McClane stumbles upon a plot involving a group of mercenaries who’re under the command of a renegade army Colonel (Sadler). With several planes – including Holly’s – unable to land, it’s up to McClane to save the day again…
Recapturing the magic of Die Hard was always going to near-impossible, but Die Hard 2: Die Harder falls short by some margin. While the original redefined the action genre with a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse, this poorly-named sequel (Die Harder? Oh come on) is more of a standard actioner. There are more explosions, but much less tension and excitement. Though replacement director Renny Harlin is capable of delivering thrills (see Cliffhanger), he’s no John McTiernan, who infused the peerless first instalment with a danger that is mostly absent here.
Part of the problem is that Die Hard 2 contrives to include too many elements which worked well last time. For example, William Atherton’s asshole journalist, brilliant though he is, just happens to be on Holly’s flight. While some of the nods work well (“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”), most give you the feeling that Harlin’s sequel is trying to replicate the first’s success by doing the same things. Which it is. Yes, it’s good to spend time with Bruce Willis’ wisecracking cop again. But while following Alan Rickman’s iconic thief was always going to be a thankless task, William Sadler’s renegade colonel makes for a pretty unremarkable baddie. Dennis Franz is entertaining, though, as the airport chief copper who hates McClane.
Recapturing the magic of Die Hard was always going to near-impossible, but Die Hard 2: Die Harder falls short by some margin. There are more explosions, sure, but much less tension and excitement.