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Saturday 29 December 2012

Burl reviews Die Hard 2! (1990)

Yippie-ki-yay once again, and a robust holiday ha ha to you! Here I am with yet another review of a Christmastime action picture, Die Hard 2! Yes, it’s the sequel to Die Hard, and I guess it’s supposed to take place a year after the events at Nakatomi Plaza! The movie works pretty hard to make fun of its unlikely premise, namely that the same sort of thing would happen to the same fellow twice! But even though they have both John McClain and his wife, Mrs. McClane, ask aloud how this could be, the movie offers no realistic explanation for this strange repetition of history!
Clearly the wisest course of action is to just not worry about it! This time the story is laid in Washington D.C., where McClane is visiting for the holidays! He’s at Dulles airport to pick up his wife, but that night it will not be a Dulles place to be, as a team of right-wing superpatriots led by William Sadler are planning to liberate an arriving drug dealer for reasons left extremely vague! I guess they’re getting paid to do it, but there seems to be some ideological element to the scheme as well! Ha ha, I guess it’s the reverse of the previous picture, where it was thieves posing as terrorists! This time the mercenary aspect is meant to cloud over the political reasoning, and it certainly accomplishes that!
A few other things have been changed up for this picture! We don’t get the attempts at structural swellegance with which the inaugural entry in the series was littered, but we get more quips! Ha ha, there’s a pretty funny scene in which McClane is introduced to the modern technological marvel of faxing, and he makes a quip about it after a lady propositions him! Also he quips to the bad guys as he is about to dispatch them, which he frequently does in gory and violent ways! One fellow gets an icicle to the eyebone, and another is sent through a jet engine! Ha ha!
But strangely, though the movie manages to create some pretty hateful bad guys (ha ha, as we know from Malone, right-wing superpatriots always make thoroughly dislikable villains because they’re well over halfway there already!), the head heavy here merely gets blown up in his airplane, along with most of his subordinates and the nasty drug dealer, before they really know what’s happening! Not very satisfying, no! Sadler’s character should have been impaled on a big hook and sent through the roaster, like the villain in Cobra, and the drug dealer could maybe have fallen from a plane! In fact, the villains are so hateful – they deliberately crash an airplane full of people, among other heinous deeds – that the movie itself becomes a little hateful! No matter how many tears John McClane sheds over the crash, and he does weep, it all still feels a little bit cold blooded!
But there are some interesting faces in the cast! Art Evans, known for his work in Class Reunion and Fright Night, plays a quick-thinking airport guy! Django himself, Franco Nero, who was also of course Jesus from The Visitor, plays the drug dealer! Dennis Franz, from all those Brian De Palma movies, is the ill-tempered airport police chief; and there are small appearances from Sheila McCarthy, John Leguizamo and Robert Patrick, as well as from Die Hard veterans William Atherton and Reginald Vel Johnson!
There’s a bit more suspense here than in the first picture, and a little more spectacle, but there’s just as much cliché and a lot less logic! It’s got some fine action sequences and is well crafted from beginning to end, but it’s still really just a big noisy Hollywood action picture, so there are only so many accolades you can give it! I’m going to award Die Hard 2 two astonishing coincidences and leave it at that!

Special note: I’ve been reviewing lots of these Hollywood pictures lately! In the new year, I think I’ll get back into some fine 80s  horror and other such gems! Ha ha!

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