Saturday, September 11, 2010

Die Hard 2

Die harder, yo. That's the tagline and occasional subtitle, but I don't think this movie is really die hardier than the first. It's pretty die hardy, but if die hardness is measured by what made the original unique, then the sequel drifted away from that somewhat. Any action movie can have gun fights and explosions, so what made Die Hard cool was that John McClane didn't win by blowing the bad guys away, but by acting intelligently and being a tough son of a bitch. It was a deadly game of cat and mouse, and him matching wits with Gruber was a lot of fun. Die Hard 2 mostly sacrifices that for a bunch of traditional action movie stuff, and while it hits those notes pretty well, and is a pretty decent movie overall, it's definitely a significant step down.

In some ways, the set up is very similar (close enough that the characters repeatedly remark on how unlikely it is for McClane to be in the middle of this kind of thing twice), with bad guys taking several planes full of passengers hostage at an airport rather than the guests of a party in a building, again on Christmas Eve. There's still some subterfuge as the good guys try a few ways to regain control of the wayward planes, but McClane's role is mostly limited to shooting guys and making generally terrible wisecracks. He has a few chances to be clever, but really the treatment of the character is one of the most disappointing aspects of the sequel. I still generally like Bruce Willis, but this just isn't one of the best scripts he's gotten. My favorite actor in the movie was actually Dennis Franz playing a typical angry police captain to the hilt, and clearly enjoying the work. There's a couple other likable performances, but really the movie's all about the action. The plot doesn't make sense and the brutality of the violence seems a little over the top, but that's pretty much what you have to expect from big action movies. At the very least it's mostly enjoyable trash the whole way through, which would generally be fine, except it just hurts a bit more after the original.

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