With Die Hard maestro John McTiernan not onboard for this sequel, it could have all gone wrong and our beloved McClane could have been left carrying a mediocre retread over his shoulders leaving the franchise to slowly go downhill after that.
Thankfully, what we got was a retread, for sure, but a decent one with enough action and enough lols to carry us through to the next, superior, round.
Arguably the least memorable of all Die Hard flicks, this sequel is commonly known as "the airport one" and, indeed, there's not much more to it. Once again it's Christmas and once again John McClane is stuck in one place trying to stop terrorists from pulling off some elaborate plan which just happens to involve his wife, kind of. This would all be much too familiar and dull if it weren't for the likes of Bruce Willis himself, who still does a top job as the iconic put-upon cop, a brilliantly creepy bunch of villains (including a chilling William Sadler) and some kickass, relentless, suspenseful action throughout.
You thought airports were stressful, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The villains' plan this time is to bring an entire airport to a standstill with a bunch of planes circling around with less and less fuel as unwitting hostages in order to free the runway for some dictator to land then take off again in a new plane. I know, it's hardly mind-blowing as a plot but it works: you care about the characters enough and the bad guys are nasty enough that you still want to see this thing through. There are some fab moments including a cartoonish but classic lol involving an ejector seat and a fight on the wing of an airplane which is just a treat all the way. Really, the only thing that lets the movie down is its safe approach: the fair amount of deja-vu you get from Die Hard 2 did not really need to be there (hell, even Reginald VelJohnson and William Atherton are tossed in randomly) and the scale isn't much bigger than the first film. Technically more lives are at stake this time around but it doesn't feel like there's more at stake somehow. Sure there are casualties, and McClane finds himself powerless a couple of times but the slightly less gritty look and less mean-spirited tone of the film takes away from the danger at hand.
Overall, Die Hard 2 is a solid thriller: action-packed, fun, gripping, really well-made. You can't go wrong. It's McClane doing what he does best, what more do you want? Well, if you do want more, you've got Die Hard With A Vengeance so check that one out if you haven't already. As it stands, though, this first sequel is an entertaining romp and well worth checking out, you won't be disappointed.
To put it "plane-ly": very good but essentially more of the same.