Repeating his ironic everyman role as a New York City policeman forced by circumstances to become a superhero, Bruce Willis again plays police officer John McClane, who is waiting unsuspectingly, as the movie opens, at the Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. for his wife’s plane to land on a snowy Christmas night. However, while watching a television news report about the extradition to the United States of a deposed Latin American general and drug czar, he notices that all is not well when he spies one of the general’s allies, Colonel Stewart, a maniacal former U.S. military officer.
Leading a renegade elite special forces unit to stop the general’s extradition, Stewart seizes the airport by knocking out its power. Then, he sets up his own air traffic control operations in a nearby church, after murdering the clergyman. Using the waiting-to-land passenger planes circling overhead as hostages, the colonel relays his demands to the airport’s chief of air operations.
When the airport chief doesn’t comply and tries to restore power, Stewart’s renegade commando unit wipes out the airport’s s.w.a.t. team. However, Stewart’s commandoes are themselves partially eliminated by McClane; an act which Stewart punishes by guiding one of the planes down into a fiery crash landing.
As the general’s plane approaches, a single runway is lit up. McClane boards the aircraft when it lands and a shoot-out ensues with the terrorists, who whisk the general away to their secret command headquarters at the church. Aided by the airport’s chief engineer, McClane soon locates the terrorists and is joined by a special army unit led by a major, who, unbeknownst to anyone, is in cahoots with Stewart and the general.
Another shoot-out occurs, and the terrorists escape on snow-mobiles, with McClane following. Meanwhile, up in the sky with McClane’s wife is an obnoxious TV reporter, who, having learned of events down below, creates mass hysteria at the airport via his reports on an airphone.
The general and his men board a 747 to fly to the tropics. As the plane starts down the runway, McClane leaps from a helicopter onto the airliner’s wing, where he battles Stewart while trying to pull the lever that will dump the jet’s fuel. He pulls the lever just as he is thrown off, and ignites the gas trail which races down the runway to blow up the 747, with the fire trail then becoming the guiding light that lands the planes safely.
Without a doubt, this exciting sequel far surpasses the original in replicating the experience of a thrilling roller-coaster ride, but with new twists, turns, dips, and rises. There are also incredibly tense, suspenseful situations that logically develop one after another. It is an understatement to say that Bruce Willis as McClane easily outperforms James Bond, as he single-handedly takes on the bad guys, dashing through elevator shafts and air ducts, or ejecting out of the pilot’s cockpit when a dozen grenades are lobbed in.
On the one hand, Willis says that McClane “is not an invincible superhero, but a regular guy who is vulnerable, afraid to die and gets tired, hurt and beat up. If he had his choice, he wouldn’t get involved, but he has no choice,” because, one might add, he is a policeman sworn to serve, protect and uphold.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t justify recommending DIE HARD 2. Who needs to see an icicle jammed through a villain’s eye, a throat slit, or someone sucked into a jet engine?
Speaking of villains, they “do some things in the movie that are so heinous, so nightmarish that if we’re lucky,” says the film’s writer, Steven de Souza, “we will do for air travel what JAWS did for swimming.” Is this an worthy goal in a world beset by fear?
Furthermore, with Castro’s leftist drug connection proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, why does Hollywood persist in besmirching conservative United States military officers? In light of the facts, a cruel, or an inane, bias seems to be operating in the creative product of the Hollywood elite.
Yes, the violence is extremely graphic, and, regrettably, much profane and obscene language goes hand-in-hand with it. What else can you say about a movie whose main characteristics are the sound of guns clicking into readiness and things blowing up? However, there is a proverb that says, “The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right” (Proverbs 29:7).
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please address your comments to: Mr. Barry Diller, Chairman, 20th Century Fox, P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213, (213) 277-2211
Several profanities and obscenities; extreme graphic violence and murder, including that of a clergyman; and, revenge and blackmail.