Movie Review : Die Hard 2 (1990)
Sequels have never been a good idea. All they do is soil the memory of beloved movies with lesser material in order to satisfy an audience that's too fucking lazy and cheap to rewatch films they like. But sometimes sequels are a great idea. The Die Hard Franchise found a hilarious loophole to provide new adventures for John McClane: they adapted a Walter Wager novel that had nothing to do with the original * into a seamless, although implausible sequel. That's why Die Hard 2 is awesome. Well, there are many reason why it's awesome but what I'm saying here is that it's not your run-of-the-mill sequel. Not at all.
So, two years after the Nakatomi Plaza events, John McClane has finally moved to Los Angeles to be with Holly and the kids. It's Christmas time and John is picking up Holly from the airport in Washington DC, where they're visiting her parents. But Holly's plane is late. A South American dictator is supposed to land later that day to stand trial for drug trafficking charge, so the airport feels a little charged up with tension. McClane sees two suspicious men in army fatigue walking around the airport and follows them into the baggage area and shit hits the fan. He says it best later in the movie: "Someone is about to seriously fuck this airport."
Die Hard 2, unlike its predecessor, is inspired by two real-life events: the Manuel Noriega and Oliver North trials. They are the de facto inspirations for South American dictator Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) and main antagonist Colonel Stuart (William Sadler). While their real-life cases were only loosely related as 1980s U.S government shadow ops that went to shit, Die Hard 2 imagines the disgraced Colonel joining forces with the dictator out of spite. This is pretty fucking paranoid and "conspiracy theorist-ish" in retrospect, but these were paranoid times where the U.S government made many enemies. So it's... let's say colorful, but not that far fetched.
A recurring theme in the Die Hard movies is the incompetence of the system to uphold moral order. People who are supposed to stop the bad guys are cutting corners and taking easy assumptions in order not to do their fucking job. The airport police chief Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz) is fat, lazy and consistently overwhelmed. The airport boss Trudeau (Fred Dalton Thompson) is a neutered, harmless pencil pusher who can't take decisions under duress. It falls down to McClane, the franchise's symbol for the American way of life, to stop international terrorists amidst this shitshow of incompetence. And let's not kid ourselves. It's exactly why we all love Die Hard 2.
The Die Hard movies have always been sneaky political and Die Hard 2 isn't an exception. They can appear populist, but it's the proper of movies to inspire people to take responsibility under stress. I mean, Die Hard 2 isn't exactly propaganda either. Its main purpose is to entertain audiences with its contemporary cowboys & indians routine. But it has a definite red, white and blue, us against them feeling to it, exactly like the original Die Hard. Die Hard 2 is every bit as pompous and epic at its predecessor and offers similar thrills in an horizontal building, which is somewhat of a tour de force. A classic.