I love Die Hard 2. I may be in a minority here, but I think that it does exactly what it sets out to do: Take the Die Hard formula, because now it has become a formula, and make it bigger and badder. It does both of these things very well.
Taking the Die Hard formula and transposing it to an airport would seem like a given, but the fact that the terrorists for the most part aren't even at the airport. Except for the first two action scenes, the bad guys stay pretty much away from the airport. This is an important fact to point out because McClane is facing an enemy that he at first doesn't know. It is also important to point out that he has almost no control over the situation. In the first movie he could mess with the bad guys because they were in the same building. This time around the bad guys are messing with him from afar and he has to deal with an unseen enemy.
As in original he is a cop who is out of his jurisdiction, but this time he has to deal with the locals face to face, which adds more drama to the movie. He has to deal with not only the local cops, but also with airport regulations. But McClane is the only person who sees what is really going on and has to think quick. There is a great scene in the movie where the bad guys show how much power they really hold by crashing a plane that has been circling overhead. McClane goes out onto the runway, which the bad guys have shut down, and tries to guide the plane with torches.
The movie adds more drama by putting McClane's wife on one of the planes that has to circle. McClane has to save his wife again, but this time it is not as easy. Everything that McClane wants to do he can't because everybody is out of reach.
There are a few things in the movie that I question though. The first is when the tower finally is able to communicate with the planes via an in the air beacon. Instead of telling the pilots to go to a different airport they just inform them about what is going on. You would think that the airport guys would have made plans for the planes to go to other airports.
The second is that the main bad guy is not that memorable. I know that topping Hans Gruber is a hard task to ask of anybody, but I felt that Col. Stewart was just a bit of a wuss. Sure he is given a very memorable opening (he is butt naked doing some sort of yoga and MMA thing), but he doesn't really do anything other than throw threats around. At least Gruber got into the mix a little. I guess because Stewart is a military guy he has to be "in command" at all times, but he just feels generic.
The last thing about DH2 is the reason all of this is happening. The bad guys want to get this Latino general out of prison. I have no problem with that, but they make a mention of retiring in the tropics. Where are they getting this money from? Maybe I missed something but I don't remember the bad guys ever making ransom demands. The general seems to be known so maybe they are going to do a mall tour and sell autographs. The other Die Hard movies were about stealing money. This one is just about getting some general out of prison. They should have demanded money too, while they were at it.
DH2 was the second American movie by Finnish director Renny Harlan. His previous movie was the great Nightmare on Elm Street 4, where he showed that he could make a big movie for a low price. Like McTiernan before him, Harlan doesn't use the editing tricks employed today. He stays classy on this one and the movie is better for it.
I find it very interesting that all the Die Hards are based on other people's work. Ok the first one was based on a book that contained most of the things we saw in the in the movie including John McClane, but all the sequels are based on either book, screenplays, or articles that never had the McClane character in them. They were their own thing, but ended up being Die Hard movies. I have not read the novel which DH2 is based on, but I'll bet it's a hellava good read.
Jimmy P is an avid film lover and collector. He has been collecting since the mid-90's and has amassed a collection in the thousands. He collects VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray.
Jimmy P lives with his wife in Parts Unknown.