Plot: John McClane (Bruce Willis) just wants to spend the holidays with his wife (Bonnie Bedelia), but once again, lady luck is not riding on his shoulder. He is supposed to pick up his wife at the airport, but as he prepares to step inside, he sees that the car he drove, which belongs to his mother-in-law, is being towed away for being illegally parked. Once he does manage to get inside, his luck doesn’t improve, as bad weather has caused countless delays and cancellations. And to add to the tension of a jam packed airport on the holidays, the government is flying in a foreign drug lord to face the courts. While all the hustle and bustle is happening, a team of master terrorists are setting up base camp in a nearby church, and preparing for a mission to rescue the drug lord and get the hell out there. The terrorists have everything set up, so they can control the control tower, they can control the runway, and no one knows how to stop them. But what they can’t control is one man, John McClane, who will not let anything, including an asshole security chief or an overbearing military commander, stand between him and his wife sharing some holiday cheer.
Entertainment Value: A follow up to Die Hard would have some epic shoes to fill, to say the least. The original film was an instant action classic, so to follow that had to be an imposing proposition. While Die Hard 2 doesn’t reach the same heights as the first movie, it is a fun movie that more than holds its own. The movie retains several prominent cast members, including Bruce Willis in the lead of course, while also keeping the Christmas backdrop and terrorist villains to battle McClane. So this feels like a Die Hard movie to be sure, but it opens things up a little and gives McClane more room to operate, as well as taking a more action oriented approach. I appreciated the character development of the original, but with that groundwork in place, Die Hard 2 dials up the action and drops some of the exposition. Even so, the villains are given some depth and purpose, so this is by no means a dead eyed narrative. The action set pieces are super fun, with a bigger scale and more wide open approach, so McClane is set loose to cause chaos in a more popcorn style sandbox. So while it might not equal the original, Die Hard 2 is a terrific action movie that is immense fun to watch.
After his iconic, star making turn in Die Hard, Bruce Willis returns as John McClane and thanks to the more action driven approach, he is able to lean more on one liners and his action hero skills. I do miss the little moments where his personality shined through, as those are far more infrequent this time around, but Willis dials up the action hero side and really comes through. Franco Nero arrives as the head villain and he is fun to watch here, but Alan Rickman’s epic performance as Hans Gruber is just a super tough act to follow. But he brings his usual strong presence to the role and it is fun to see Nero in action, so he is a competent villain. I wish the banter worked a little better, but Nero is more of an action rival rather than the cerebral rival like Rickman. The cast also includes Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton, John Amos, William Sadler, and Dennis Franz.